Fintechs solving Africa’s generational challenges make continent innovation hub


Fintech seems like the panacea to Africa’s unemployment crisis, informal financial systems and governments’ tax target problems.

Josephine Wawira, a communications consultant, says that in a continent where over 60 per cent of the adult population is unbanked and the financial sector considerably underdeveloped, fintech is a welcome revolution that is seen to be boosting Africa’s financial infrastructure.

With a growing population, an increasing rate of mobile and internet penetration, combined with a substantial need for financial inclusion, Africa is a rich ground for the growth of fintechs and tech giants.

“There exist endless possibilities, as entrepreneurs seek to use technological advancements to create a range of more reliable and customer friendly solutions to real-world problems,” adds Wawira.

A sizeable number of fintech startups in the continent are closing existing gaps in various industries including healthcare, agriculture, transportation, e-commerce, and mobile money services.

Delivering more than just improved banking services

“In Africa, the fintech industry delivers more than just improved banking services. For instance, its high reliance on innovation has also created new job opportunities, especially for young talent.”

Furthermore, financial technology is also facilitating the growth of mobile payments, from accelerating e-commerce to credit lending, factors that have enabled the growth of small and medium enterprises across Africa.

A case in point is e-commerce platform Jumia, whose in-house payment solution JumiaPay has been reported as the company’s fastest-growing category, accounting for over 30 per cent of all online platform’s transactions.

The service has partnered extensively with different financial institutions like Mastercard and various local banks, with an aim to accelerate the adoption of electronic payment platforms among consumers and merchants; and to fast-track financial inclusion in Africa.

JumiaPay also provides Jumia Lending, a service that gives quick and affordable short-term working capital financing for Jumia sellers seeking to expand and grow their online businesses.

In a recent interview with Reuters in Lagos Nigeria, co-founder/co-CEO Jeremy Hodara noted that “as a key part of the company’s growth plan in 2020, Jumia is interested in making its Pay platform and its logistics network available to third-parties, even those not selling on its e-commerce platform”. He further told Reuters that “Jumia is an e-commerce ecosystem, with a strong marketplace and very strong logistics and payment platforms that complement each other.”

“This, being a single pick from among tens of other fintech players in the continent, all contributing to the growth and development of the African economy,” Wawira says.

She adds, “On this basis, it is coherent that startups in the fintech sector have raised significant capital in the last few years, as compared to other sectors. In 2019 for instance, fintech topped African tech sub-sectors with most VC (Venture Capital) investments, with a record of US$285 million.”

The Global Fintech Index 2020, published by a fintech research firm, Findexable, shows that 60 per cent of the global GDP will be digitized by 2022, with growth in every industry driven by digitally-enhanced offerings, operations, and relationships. The report further notes that progressive, digital-first financial services are the key to “offer the best chance to drive global trade in 2020, improve access to financial services, and open opportunities – for marginalized citizens, poorer communities and small businesses and entrepreneurs alike”.

South Africa, Kenya & Nigeria fuelling fintech in Africa

The number of fintechs in Sub-Saharan Africa has recorded a 24 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over the past decade, with local fintech companies taking up the larger share of the sector at 80 per cent, while international players account for 20 per cent according to Ernst & Young.

South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria are fuelling fintech in the continent, and 2020 is no exception.

The countries are ranked 37th, 42nd, and 52nd respectively in the Global Fintech Ranking by Findexable, followed by Ghana, Egypt and Uganda in positions 58, 60, and 64 respectively.

Digital banks, cryptocurrency, SME financing, payments, enabling processes & technology, banking & lending, remittances, personal finance, and equity funding have been identified as some of the fintech strengths in these countries.

There is a significantly impressive push to grow the fintech industry in Africa in 2020 and beyond, both from the private sector and governments.

For instance, the Africa Fintech Network (AFN) is expected to greatly contribute to making Africa a leading global Innovation Hub in 2020 and beyond, among others by promoting the region as a preferred investment destination.

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