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Technology has completely disrupted the delivery of banking and financial services and with it, our expectations of what banking should be – an experience, not a branch we visit.

2018 was a record year for global FinTech, according to KPMG’s ‘The Pulse of Fintech 2018 report’, in the first half of year 2018, global investment in FinTech companies hit $57.9 billion across 875 deals.

As the industry continues to grow, the interest around it has continued to take root even from non-industry pundits right down to the everyday consumer who is benefiting immensely to the new world order.

For the uninitiated, the lingo used in the financial technology services space simply referred to as Fintech is downright confusing. In Africa where the mobile revolution has propelled FinTech to heights never imagined, most of the jargon has a mobile element to it. The fact that there’s so much of technology integration to banking and with it, a deluge of tech speak is hardly surprising seeing as its techies disrupting the banking sector.

What is FinTech?

If you have ever transferred money, paid for something or checked your bank balance using your phone or a mobile device, then you are already familiar with the Fintech space.

Fintech is short for Financial Technology, which describes the use of innovative technology in the design and delivery of financial services to consumers by banking institutions as well as financial services providers such as Cellulant.

Under Fintech, various products and services have emerged that continue to revolutionize banking as well as the design and delivery of financial services to a consumer demographic that is mobile, connected and one that values convenience now more than ever.

According to

“The growth of FinTech, is due in large part to the opportunity it affords small players to compete on the same field as traditional banks and financial institutions. Thanks to FinTech, it’s no longer about who is biggest, but who is fastest and most responsive to effectively address the ever-changing consumer demands.”

A Glossary of Digital Payment Terms

Terms such as mobile money, mobile payments, mobile commerce, mobile banking and mobile point of sale (POS) among others can be quite confusing to many consumers or those not working in the industry, but come across the words through the media or through our interactions with financial service providers.

As one of the leading players in the Fintech space in Africa, we interact with many of these terms daily. As part of our customer journey, we strive to ensure that our partners and customers have a good understanding of what it is we do, the solutions that we propose and build, as well as the technologies that form the backbone of our services and the architecture we role out.

We have put together a glossary of terms frequently used in the FinTech industry with a particular focus on the mobile payment technology terms used in Africa by consumers and businesses. As FinTech services now cut across various consumer segments, we have categorised the terms in a two-part series of blog articles based on two business segments; consumers and businesses. In this series, we demystify the terms used mostly between  Business to Consumer (B2C). The 2nd part of this blog article shall dwell on terms used in Business to Business (B2B) transactions.


Is an acronym that refers to Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). Although similar to Short Messaging Service (SMS), USSD transactions occur during the session only thus a user cannot keep the message to reply to later.

USSD has been the single most impactful yet simple mobile technology that has revolutionized the distribution and access to financial services in Africa. USSD works on any basic feature phone that has the ability to send and receive SMS.

In a continent where the rate of feature phone penetration is much higher than that of smartphones, the USSD technology has enabled the rapid rollout of mobile payment services by mobile network operators and Payment Service Providers (PSPs) like Cellulant (also referred to as aggregators)

Cellulant as a payments service providers has used the USSD technology to enable over 150 banks to offer mobile banking to their customers across Africa.

Mobile Money

Mobile money is an electronic wallet service in which the mobile phone is used to access financial services such as money deposit, peer to peer transfer and withdrawal and payments of goods and services. It also refers to the financial system operated by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and that allows users move money from their banks to their mobile phones as well as to access financial services that previously needed one to have a bank account.

Cellulant has partnered with over 34 MNOs across Africa to build payment solutions that enable consumers move their money from their bank accounts to their phones as well as to use their mobile money to pay for goods and services e.g paying for your water, electricity bills or PayTV using M-pesa, MTN mobile money or Airtel money from your phone.

Mobile Banking

Mobile banking refers to the use of a mobile ( Smart or feature) phones or other cellular devices to perform online banking tasks either via a mobile application or USSD (shortcode) while away from your home computer.
These banking tasks may include, but not limited to, account opening, statement request, monitoring account balance, transferring funds between accounts, bill payment, loan application, repayment and locating the nearest bank branch or ATM.

Cellulant is one of the leading providers of mobile banking integration solutions to financial institutions across Africa. We currently serve over 150 banking institutions across 11 markets enabling customers to use a secure, fast and convenient way of banking with support for multiple languages and currencies.

Mobile Payment

Refers to payment transactions conducted using a mobile phone. Mobile payments are often point-of-sale (PoS) transactions made or received with a mobile device either with funds from a mobile wallet which may include payment options such as mobile money debit or credit card.  Tingg use Cellulant’s payment gateway to provide the linkage between users, MNOs and banks to give in order to give consumers various payment options such as mobile money, debit, credit card or a direct bank link.

Mobile wallet

A mobile wallet is a virtual store of funds/value. From this virtual store, users can make payments and/or access information services such as balance inquiries, statements, etc.

A mobile wallet is a way to carry your payment information in a secure digital form on your mobile device. Tingg powered by Cellulant is a digital payments platform for businesses that bring together mobile wallets from various mobile money operators allowing users to access various types of payment information such as mobile money, direct bank or visa.

Internet Banking

Internet banking refers to the use of a web application (website) to perform banking tasks. Although the services offered via internet banking and mobile banking are similar, the only distinction is in the platform used. Whereas internet banking requires that you have an internet connection, mobile banking services especially those ones available via USSD do not require to be online or even own a smartphone. Thus Mobile banking is more widely spread especially in the African continent where data costs are quite high.

Mobile Commerce/ m-Commerce

This refers to the use of wireless handheld devices like mobile phones to enable buying and selling of goods and services. Mobile commerce can be powered by using mobile apps, websites or USSD technologies.
Known as next-generation Electronic Commerce (e-commerce), m-commerce enables users to buy and sell goods online without needing to find a place to plugin.

Digital payments/e-payment

This is a way of payment that is made through digital methods and no hard cash is involved. Such methods may include, mobile money, visa, PayPal, debit or credit card. In digital payments, payer and payee both use digital modes to send and receive money. It is also referred to as electronic payment. All the transactions in digital payments are completed online.

The Future of Digital Payments

Consumers are looking for a single service that can manage all their payments in a simple, fast and secure way whether they are paying for goods or services.


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