Compared to the U.S., many countries in Africa have a less developed financial services and payments ecosystem — but are far ahead in mobile payments adoption.

The lack of brick-and-mortar banks and branches has allowed parts of Africa to surpass most advanced regions by "leaping technologies" and embracing mobile commerce as a way to transfer money with person-to-person payments and eventually make point of sale payments, says Mark Richards, head of financial services for Actis, a London-based private equity group concentrating on payments in emerging markets.

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