Africa’s tuition payment market is the next fintech frontier for tech firms looking to bolster their balance sheets.
By Seth Onyango
Technology companies aiming to lead Africa’s fintech industry are now looking towards the continent’s growing market for tuition payment solutions.
Last week, Nigeria’s Flutterwave became the latest tech firm to make a foray into Africa’s relatively untapped multibillion-dollar tuition payments solutions industry.
The unicorn unveiled Tuition, a payment channel to allow African users to conveniently pay various fees to educational institutions within the continent and overseas using their local currencies.
Flutterwave tips this feature to help eliminate the often-arduous process of currency conversion and simplify cross-border transactions for tuition payment.
Users can pay fees to high schools, universities, colleges, and even globally recognised edutech platforms, through a single, easy-to-use digital platform.
“We are excited to offer this solution to parents in Nigeria, with plans to roll out the service to other African countries eventually,” said Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave’s chief executive.
‘Tuition’ is currently available in Nigeria for UK school fees, with an expansion plan to other African countries soon.
Additionally, Flutterwave intends to incorporate more schools from Africa, the UK, the US, Canada, France, and Germany to broaden product access.
Elsewhere, Kenya’s leading telco, Safaricom, already has an edu-payment offering dubbed Lipa Karo, Swahili, to pay school fees.
Upon signing up for a Lipa Karo account, a school is issued a business number to which parents and guardians pay their child’s fees.
The service is available to schools which have signed up for an M-PESA Paybill number for Lipa Karo or through paybill accounts operated by our partners, e.g. Kenya Commercial Bank, Co-operative Bank and Pesapal.
And in 2020, Ecobank partnered with PayMyTuition, an offshoot of Canadian-based MTFX Foreign Exchange, to expand the international tuition payment and refund platform across Africa.
PayMyTuition is marketed as a tuition payment platform that helps “streamline tuition management and campus commerce on a single platform with eBilling & eStatements, Payment Plans, Payments, Refunds, Cashiering & eStore modules.”
Africa’s massive education sector makes it attractive for firms looking to bolster their revenue through transaction fees, subscriptions, or premium services.
Reports have shown that African students seeking higher education are the most mobile in the world, with over 405,000 ― 5 per cent of the 8.1 million tertiary students on the continent – studying overseas or elsewhere.
These firms will also be keen to further leverage the large number of users on these payment platforms for data to gain insights into consumer behaviour for cross-selling other products or services.
According to French Campus, which monitors students’ data movement, the figure is more than double the global average of 2.4 per cent.
As of September 2022, France had 29,000 students from Morocco enrolled in its institutions, with students from Algeria and Tunisia following closely behind. In the United Kingdom, over 17,000 Nigerian students were studying, with students from Egypt and Kenya also present. Approximately 12,000 Nigerian students were enrolled in the United States, with students from Egypt and Kenya following suit.
Furthermore, China had 6,500 Ghanaian students studying, with students from Nigeria and Ethiopia being the next most represented countries.
Within Africa, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe have become leading destinations for highly ambitious African students seeking top-quality tertiary education.
Cities like Nairobi, Cape Town and Johannesburg, Lagos, Cairo and Harare are thriving and growing with a burgeoning middle class as Africa, on the whole, grows its universities and colleges.