BlackBerry is to launch a service in Nigeria whereby users can send money to one another via the BBM app, the first foray into Africa for its P2P payment service.

And the Canadian firm teased on an unspecified payments initiative which will follow shortly in South Africa, the continent’s other most important market.

The announcements were made by Matthew Talbot, BlackBerry’s senior vice president – emerging solutions, in a blog.

BlackBerry is partnering with Interswitch, Nigeria’s largest payments processor which claims 45 per cent penetration for its Verve payments card among the country’s 30 million card holders. The firm also offers prepaid tokens and mobile payments apps.

Separately, Interswitch recently said it will launch its Verve card in Kenya early next year, threatening to undermine the dominance of Visa and MasterCard in that market but also challenge Safaricom’s M-Pesa mobile money service too.

According to Talbot, working with Interswitch in Nigeria will enable BlackBerry “to enable any Nigerian to transfer money or airtime within BBM, as simply as they transfer photos or files”.

In coming weeks, he said, “exciting developments” would be announced about South Africa too.

Previously, BlackBerry and partners launched a service called BBM Money in Indonesia. That was in 2013. Initially the service was for BlackBerry devices but then it was spread to users of the Android and iOS BBM apps. It’s unclear which devices in Nigeria will be able to access the payment service.

Earlier this year, the Canadian firm started a trial in its home market of P2P payments, enabling users to send funds from their PayPal accounts via BBM to other users. The feature is available to BBM users in Canada with BlackBerry 10, iOS and Android devices.

Talbot also blogged about new payment options in the online BBM Shop where it will soon enable transactions via the Firstmonie mobile wallet offered by the country’s largest bank, First Bank of Nigeria. It will also team up with Mobile Media Info Tech (MMIT), a local mobile payments specialist, to enable secure transactions in the online store.