Thursday, 5 August 2021

Online betting firms gamble on soccer-mad Nigeria

LAGOS: Online sports betting is booming in soccer-mad Nigeria largely thanks to payment systems developed by homegrown technology firms that are starting to make online businesses more viable.

For years, mobile payments failed to take off in Nigeria as they have in countries such as Kenya, where Safaricom’s M-Pesa money transfers have fostered a culture of cashless payments.

Fear of electronic fraud and slow internet speeds have held Nigerian online consumers back but betting firms says the new, fast digital payment systems underpinning their websites are changing attitudes towards online transactions.

“We have seen significant growth in the number of payment solutions that are available. All that is definitely changing the gaming space,” said Seun Anibaba, CEO of Lagos State Lotteries Board, gaming regulator in Nigeria’s commercial capital.

“The operators will go with whoever is faster, whoever can connect to their platform with less issues and glitches,” he said, adding that taxes from sports betting in Lagos State rose 30 percent to 40 percent in 2017 from 2016.

That growth has been matched by a rise in web payments, according to data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), which is owned by the central bank and licensed banks.

In 2016, there were 14 million web payments worth a total 132 billion naira ($420 million). Transactions leapt to 29 million worth 185 billion in 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018 there were nearly 10 million worth 61 billion.

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