Fintech Startups have been booming in recent years, having raised more capital than other sectors in the last 3 years alone. They have helped bridge the gap between common people and their access to tech-based products on the continent.
Fintech trends in South Africa have already been discussed in a previous article. This article primarily focuses on Fintech’s advancement in other parts of Africa like Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
Nigeria’s fintech landscape consists of 210-250 fintech companies, important sponsors like banks, telecom companies and the government, enablers, and funding partners. Despite the availability of digital payments services in Nigeria, transactions are done using cash accounts for 95%, whereas only 5% of the population uses these services. This figure is set to improve with the increase in the use of mobile and internet with time.
Some of the very popular fintech startups in Nigeria are :
- Flutterwave, the Nigerian-headquartered payments API has collaborated with Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba to allow African merchants receive payment from Alipay’s one billion users.
- Stripe and Visa, Global payments giants have led a USD 8 Million Series A funding in Paystack, a Nigerian online payments company.
- The most landmark of these deals came in 2019 when Visa’s $200 million investment in Nigerian payments processor, Interswitch confirmed the company as Africa’s first fintech unicorn.
- In Nigeria, OPay, incubated by the China-owned Opera browser, is competing very strongly against PalmPay, a subsidiary product of China-based Transsion Holdings, Africa’s top phone maker. China has been a major investor in Africa considering both the above-mentioned companies have jointly received over USD 210 Million in funding. This ranks them among the continent’s best funded fintech companies.
- Paga : The startup helps transfer money without charge, regardless if it is a major piece of the business. Paga was launched in Nigeria to profit from the accumulation of cash money in the financial industry and to execute financial services for all residents in Africa.
- PiggyVest : It is an online savings platform that empowers savers to put away money that they would prefer not to withdraw immediately. It is not similar to a normal savings bank account because here we are made to follow a certain discipline with respect to spending money while also building our savings account.
This country falls among the top African nations that are innovators in the fintech field, coming third after South Africa and Nigeria. The vigorous growth that has been experienced in the fintech landscape in Kenya has largely been credited to the penetration of mobile telephony, as well as the general interest of the country to technological innovation.
- M-Pesa, a mobile phone money transfer platform, has contributed to meaningful financial inclusion. It has also acted as a stimulus for the creation of other fintech startups. Users are capable of depositing, withdrawing, transferring money and paying for goods and services using their phones. A number of fintech businesses, which have prospered in Kenya as a result of M-Pesa, include mobile lending, mobile banking, fundraising applications, mobile payment, insure-tech, peer-to-peer lending applications, business-to-business lending, digital payment, online trade, international money transfer, online foreign exchange, online procurement, online betting and other blockchain applications.
- Digital lending has witnessed an increase with a drastic turn from conventional lending to banking institutions. The rapid embracing of online lending platforms has seen a rise in the number of mobile lenders such as Tala, Branch International, Fuliza and Okash among others. Digital lending has been very rewarding in Kenyan markets. Almost all established banks in Kenya have started offering instant mobile loans. Fuliza, which was introduced by telecommunications company Safaricom in January 2019, is a service, which offers users an extension to complete transactions when they run out of money in their M-Pesa accounts. The first month after its launch, the telco gave around USD 58.18 Million to users. This is just a small indication of how profitable digital lending is in Kenya.
- Digital payment processing: E-commerce in Kenya has recorded considerable growth owing to the ever-rising middle-class numbers. Cards are still used by a number of people here. This has imposed the need for a payment processing system. Thus, resulting in the entry of a number of payment processors. Some of the significant players in payment processing include Pesapal, iPay Africa, Africa’s Talking, Jambo Pay, Sapama Cash, Jenga, Lipisha, Beyonic, Flutterwave, M-payer, Kopokopo, Direct Pay Online, Wapi Pay, and Cellulant.
- Online Banking is a means to allow customers to carry out financial transactions via their bank’s website or smartphone application. Changes in the online banking industry have resulted in the reformation of the conventional banking model. Online banking has helped banks improve their efficiency while at the same time cut on their operational costs. All banks in Kenya offer online banking mediums with customers being able to pay online via bank websites or mobile phone applications.
The nation has a very large population of around 100 million people. Even then, people here rely mainly on cash. Salaries too are paid through cash only. The reason being many people still do not have access to a bank account. Egypt has very few bank branches and ATMs. The introduction of fintech startups here are helping Egyptians access financial products and services.
- Fawry, an Electronic payment network has gained wide popularity. It offers financial services to consumers and businesses and has simplified big payments. Fawry now has 20 million customers and processes 2.1 million transactions daily.
- On the other hand, other emerging startups are facing difficulties. Ogra, an emerging fintech startup that digitizes payments below EGP50 through mobile phones, faces the task of having to deal with banks that are not quite ready for modernization.
- Banks and payment gateways impose high transaction fees and commission rates on e-payments. This poses a problem for small payments such as transport, scratch cards, or goodies from kiosks, placed at EGP100 or less because they cannot place a high commission on users for a small payment.
- Since the fintech sector is relatively new to Egypt, companies also facing different kinds of regulatory and social challenges that might limit the growth of fintech startups.
There is not enough awareness among people as well as for entrepreneurs in that sector of financial services. They could be tech-savvies but do not know how the process goes or the financial side of the transactions.
- Startupbootcamp, a network of startup accelerators launched Startupbootcamp Pride FinTech Cairo in 2019. They selected 10 best startups of Egypt to provide them with industry expertise, exposure, and exclusive access to a web of mentors and experts.
- The startups selected were :
- Clix, a peer-to-peer money transfer platform.
- Compareha, an online marketplace where consumers can shop for banking and insurance products.
- ElGameya, a mobile Fintech App that offers savings tools as well as helps get loans easily from friends.
- El Zatona, helps retailers keep track of sales, inventory, and cash flow. Also gives information on how to improve performance.
- Fawaterak, a billing, and online payment service.
- Neqabty , a platform for automated syndicate services.
- Netsahem, a fundraising platform for charities.
- Seventail, an open-source SaaS for local merchants.
- XPay, a platform and mobile app for cashless communities.
- Youspital, a digital healthcare services platform.
Fintech will get popularized in Egypt as people will realise it is something that is used every day. Hence, by providing a digital platform for it, it will be a lot easier.
The country has a long history of supporting fintech, beginning when the Social Security Bank introduced the “Sika Card” in 1997. As a substitute to banknotes and checks, the card was used cashless payments. To date, Ghana remains to display an openness to tech innovation. As of December 2018, there were 32 million mobile money accounts, a 17.32% increase from the 23.9 Million registered accounts in 2017.
- ExpressPay is a fintech startup that helps consumers pay for services such as utility bills, fees, insurance. It also enables users to have direct access to banking services such as the transfer of funds. Supports major international credit card networks.
- Slydepay is an online fund transfer platform. Enables users to make payment and receive money. Also supports the transfer of money from credit or debit cards issued from outside the country.
- Hubtel is a payment facilitator that allows you to accept payments from customers for the payment for goods and services. It does not offer banking services. Also provides advertising services.
- Zeepay helps connect money wallets, ATMs, cards and bank accounts to international operators and paid subscriptions.
- Invest Mobile helps clients manage their investments with or without an internet connection.
- Bloom Impact is a fintech startup that digitally connects small business owners with financial services that cater to their needs.
- Paysail is a web service that allows account departments of various businesses to pay salaries, file tax returns and social security.
- G-Money is a mobile money wallet launched by Ghana’s largest bank, GCB Bank. The main goal of this startup is to enable users to pay regardless of their mobile network operator. The plus point is that it is available to both GCB and Non-GCB Bank customers.
Fintech has only very recently started taking shape in Ethiopia. Opportunities for fintech growth compete against multiple factors like the state monopoly of the telecoms sector and strict financial services regulations. Non-bank institutions are forbidden from undertaking monetary transactions, limiting fintech operations to partner with banks or microfinance institutions. Additionally, the pressure to balance the growth of the financial sector while also providing apt protection for consumers challenges the current regulatory volume of the National Bank, and it has to date refused requests by potential market entrants to launch new products or services. But, new legislation passed in Ethiopia will allow telecommunications companies to step into the non-bank financial services space by bringing basic services to mobile customers through their devices.
The progress allows any qualifying business to offer basic financial transaction services, which under a standard licence covers saving, credit, insurance and pension products, including cash-in and -out; domestic remittances; bill payments; retail payments and inward international transfers. The country hosted the second Finnovation Ethiopia conference for over 200 financial tech innovators in March 2019. Ethiopia also organized the Fourth African FinTech Summit in November 2019 which had 400 investors from over 30 countries.
With several investors realizing the ocean of opportunities that lie in Africa, the investment in fintech is set to only increase in the next decade.
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