At the Africa Tech Festival held a fortnight ago in Cape Town, Digital Virgo announced that through its customized payment platform, it had offered over 25 million Africans access to digital content and services in 2022.
The company, which describes itself as ‘a global specialist in payment via telecom operators’ bills and mobile money’, has a presence in 15 African countries and is in the process of multiplying its partnerships with leading merchants on the continent.
TechCabal caught up with Digital Virgo’s CEO, Guillaume Briche, at the event and had a chat about a range of topics, including the company’s traction in Africa, its ambitions for the continent and the challenges it has faced in its operations.
TC: Please tell us more about Digital Virgo.
GB: The mission of Digital Virgo is to give everyone access to digital services and content by allowing them to pay for those via mobile payment, using telecom operators’ billing solutions.
There are 8 billion people in the world, and most of them have access to a mobile phone and SIM card. At the same time, less than 20% of the world’s population have credit cards. So what we do is connect users to merchants who offer digital services and content, and allow these users to pay merchants for access to these services.
TC: What presence does Digital Virgo have in Africa?
GB: Our presence on the continent is strategic. Currently, the Digital Virgo group processes 430 million euros in annual turnover, and more than 20% of this comes from our Africa operations.
This means almost 100 million euros of our turnover comes from the continent where we have a presence in 15 countries, 10 offices and 300 people working with our clients.
We have been on the continent since our formation in 2008. We started in North Africa in Morocco then sub-Saharan Africa where we initially launched in Ghana and South Africa. We then kept growing through the continent both organically and through mergers and acquisitions.
TC: What challenges have you faced in your operations in Africa?
GB: The main challenge we have faced has been trying to link our African operations with our global strategy because the continent is very diverse. For example, doing business in say Morocco is very different from doing business in South Africa.
Another issue would be instabilities in some markets we operate in but on the positive side, these markets are a very valuable asset to us and we have managed to ourselves to function so all these challenges in our operating environments.
TC: What unique opportunities would you say are available in Africa for a company such as Digital Virgo?
GB: The main opportunity is that Africa is very dynamic and things move fast which presents lots of opportunities for our kind of business model. For example, at the moment, wallets and mobile money are quite popular on the continent which presents us with opportunities for diversifying our billing methods.
The market size in Africa also presents opportunities for scaling. I mean we are currently present in about 15 countries and we would like to add even more because the demand for access to premium content on the continent is high.
TC: Are they any exciting projects that you guys have on the pipeline that you would like to share with our readers?
GB: We have a couple of exciting developments, yes. First, our client Garena is bringing their “Free Fire” game to users here who will have the ability to play it through carrier billing. Free Fire is one of the most popular mobile games in the world with over 150 million daily users.
In video, at the moment, we are providing white label video solutions which we plan to enrich and deploy across our numerous markets on the continent. We are also investing a lot in local content production.
Another area we are making strides in is eSport where we sponsor tournaments and teams in some countries on the continent like Egypt.