Nigeria is generally regarded as the second-largest gambling market in sub-Saharan Africa, behind South Africa, but the No. 1 position is there for the taking if the west African nation can tighten up some loose ends in its gambling industry.
The Nigerian gambling industry is already heading in the right direction thanks to improving internet accessibility and mobile penetration in the country, but it is yet to exploit some other key areas, most notably, mobile money.
Considering how well mobile money has served other African nations like Kenya and Ghana, Nigeria is missing out on a lot of gambling revenue by not making full use of this service.
Mobile money does exist in Nigeria, but it is still in its fledgling state. There has been a lot of chat about making the phenomenon a bigger deal in the country, but that has been countered by plenty of foot-draggings by the people that matter.
While the Nigerian mobile money industry continues to slumber, Kenya operates one of the largest mobile money services in the world in M-Pesa, while our next-door neighbours, Ghana are not too far behind with MTN, Vodafone and Airtel running full-scale mobile money services in the country.
This has seriously helped the growth of the betting industries in these two nations.
Mobile money has significantly improved financial inclusion in Kenya and Ghana, giving people without bank accounts the opportunity to send and receive money; and pay their bills from their mobile devices.
This has been particularly beneficial to the poorer rural communities that don’t have bank accounts or fancy smartphones. With the most basic mobile device, you can easily make a mobile money transaction.
This has been of great help to the online betting industries in Kenya and Ghana, propelling them into the top five as far as gambling markets in Africa are concerned.
Nigeria is still doing fine without mobile money, but we will be a lot better with it.
At the moment, the prevalent payment method for many betting operators is deposit via ATM cards.
Apart from that, many betting sites in Nigeria allow online bank transfers, while OPay and Quickteller are also used to a lesser degree.
So basically, you most likely would need to have a bank account if you are to deposit and withdraw from a betting company in Nigeria.
This may not sound like a big deal to those in big cities like Lagos and Abuja, but when you consider the fact that about 38% of the Nigerian population don’t have bank accounts, the potential impact of mobile money becomes more apparent.
Nigeria has over 200 million inhabitants; 38% of that number is just under 800,000. That is a rough estimate of people that do not have access to online betting because they do not have bank accounts.
Mobile money can bridge the gap between the banked and the unbanked communities in Nigeria.
Hopefully, in the near future, the Nigerian mobile money sector can get going and rival what is happening in Kenya and Ghana. It can be a game-changer not only in the online betting industry but in the financial system as a whole.