Africa’s booming fintech space solutions have proven to be much needed in a continent where 60% of the population is unbanked, 800 million without the internet and the poverty rate is still over 40%. Fortunately, the past few years have seen a curve with solutions, leveraging on technology and using mobile carriers to push financial inclusion. The Fintech space in Africa has become the most dominant startup sector, growing by 60% with funding of startups alone currently at about $900million.
This article will explore the current boom that is Africa’s Fintech space; where it’s at, the Top 10 players leveling up the game, and how it has become a goldmine of investment.
Africa’s Fintech space; Where it started…
By 2017, the fintech industry in Africa had already established an impressive landing and was gradually building up to this boom. The continent’s growing population of 1.2 billion people, rising smartphone ownership, and a drop in internet costs were among the factors that contributed to her growth. Fintech startups took advantage of the visible gaps in the financial services landscape and offered targeted services. This allowed fintech to enter the market with a strong value proposition, making financial services conveniently accessible and affordable to millions of people. By 2019, over 54% of all startup investment in Africa was in the fintech sector, and the number of new fintech users increased by 250% I.e 7.2 million.
Africa’s booming Fintech space; How it’s going…
The Fintech space in Africa has since shown ample opportunities especially in regional markets such as Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Kenya. Despite the Pandemic affecting a lot of sectors, Africa fintech had various headline cross-border transactions, where there were prominent acquisitions that happened of popular solutions.
The adoption of mobile money, cryptocurrency, and electronic payments.
The Fintech boom in Africa has a lot to be attributed to the revolution of mobile money and electronic payments. Innovation has paved the way for cashless transactions through financial technology like MTN and Airtel’s mobile money. These top fintech startups in Africa have created newer ways of carrying out cashless transactions by developing networks across borders. In west Africa, Nigeria has especially benefited from the financial-technology boom as a result of the revolution in mobile money. Another one is, Seba Crypto AG, a Swiss financial services company, recently raised about $104 million from a consortium of investors as it seeks to set up the world’s first crypto bank where customers can trade digital and fiat currencies.
The African fintech space has attracted so many foreign investors, especially from the China scene.
In 2020 most investments on the continent flowed to Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, with impact investors across emerging markets.
There has been fast-growing merger-and-acquisition activity, with international companies including Visa IncNetwork International Holdings Plc, and Stripe Inc. growing their interests in the region. Stripe paid $200 million to acquire Nigerian startup Paystack.
The biggest funding happened to be that of Flutterwave, based in Lagos and San Francisco, which raised $170 million in 2020, during the pandemic, becoming Nigeria’s second fintech startup with a valuation above $1 billion, after Interswitch. In the past three years, fintech investments in Nigeria have seen growth by 197%, with the majority of investment coming from outside the country. There has been a multitude of innovations from fintech in product development, designing products and services to cater to the needs of millions of Nigerians, in turn, fuelling the growth of e-commerce.
Then there’s East Africa, where Dubai-headquartered Network International bought Nairobi-headquartered DPO Group in a $288 million deal, which allows Network International to boost its operations all over Africa.
The boom in a Pandemic
Despite the pandemic, the continuous need for various fintech solutions did not dwindle. A good example is Uganda’s SafeBoda, a motorcycle (‘bodaboda’) taxi-hailing app that launched an e-commerce platform by connecting market vendors with customers, a result of Uganda going on lockdown.
Report finds African fintech investment reached $1.35 million despite the pandemic. Africa’s mobile subscription penetration is at 80%, and for countries such as Kenya, this figure is over 91%. African banks play a big part in their digital transformation and adopting various fintech solutions. Across West Africa, the reach of the mobile money sector is 13 times wider than local banks.
In South Africa, the Reserve Bank established a new fintech innovation hub, in collaboration with several other government agencies with an intergovernmental fintech working group (IFWG. All in all, 2021 has seen fintech startups on the continent have raised a whopping $1.19 billion in funding with deals worth $1 million and above accounting for about 95% ($1.14 bn) of it.
Where it’s headed…
Africa as a region has offered immense opportunities for fintech to grow and solve issues related to savings, loans, payments, financial management. For instance, in Egypt, Egypt Vision 2030 is still progressing with its implementation and this has included significant announcements in the financial services sector. This includes the likes of the country’s new banking law, helping regulate the performance of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and the banking sector as a whole, which has a strong component in the fintech space.
Other advancements include regulatory sandbox developments such as in Angola, which is a country also looking to diversify its economy; Portuguese innovation advisor Beta-i is helping Banco Nacional de Angola to create an experimental regulatory environment for fintech; The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) realizing for review by stakeholders, a draft framework for a regulatory sandbox. Also, The Bank of Ghana has announced a fintech and innovation office.
We will most likely see further developments from efforts in 2020 and before the wider economic development in the fintech space with countries such as Nigeria, the beginning of 2021 has seen more discussions of potential mergers and acquisitions. Also from the collaboration with an intergovernmental fintech working group (IFWG), there’s impressive progress in South Africa’s new support mechanism.
Central Banks in East Africa have also launched various future-thinking monetary policies to enable the reach of digital financial services.
Top 10 players in Africa’s booming Fintech space.
While about 99 African fintech startups were able to raise external funding/investments in the last year, there are still the top players that have shown acceleration, giving Africa’s Fintech a bright spot in the global fintech space. These guys are making heads wave with both solutions and investors, expanding Africa’s Fintech space. Here are the current top 10 players in Africa’s Fintech space in no particular order.
Founded by Opera software, Opay is an approved e-wallet operating in Nigeria that facilitates P2P transactions, mobile top-up, bill payments, paying for transportation, food & grocery delivery. As of Q3 2020, the company processed $1,4B.They also acquired an international money transfer license and announced a partnership with WorldRemit. OPay processes about 80% of bank transfers among mobile money operators in Nigeria and 20% of non-merchant PoS transactions.
Opay has expanded its payments service operations to North Africa and Ghana. There are also plans to expand to South and East Africa.
Flutterwave enables business owners to accept payments from customers in 150 currencies, including Naira, USD, GBP, Euro, and Yuan. It operates in Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, UK, US, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Despite the pandemic, Flutterwave recently closed a $170 million deal in the Series C investment, valuing the company at over $1 billion.
Interswitch is the pioneer of the Nigerian digital payment infrastructure. The solutions include various personal and business finance products, such as Verve payment cards and the Quickteller payment app. This fintech unicorn is the second VC-backed startup on the continent to achieve a ten-figure valuation in 2019 after Visa acquired a minority equity stake in the firm.
Interswitch partnered with Kenya-based Credit Bank in 2020 to launch a multi-currency prepaid card, where customers do not need a bank account to transfer funds. Interswitch also announced it’s going to revive venture investments in African startups once again, maintaining its spot as a top player in the space.
This fintech company is based in Cape Town, offering a full tech stack for partners to build savings, lending, and insurance products in emerging markets. In 2020, Jumo closed a $55 million round from a diverse group of investors, going beyond Africa, and is now operating in the Asian Market.
Founded and based in South Africa, Yoco ranked 230 on CB Insights’ list of companies that secured funds in the last 5 years. Yoco raised US$33M investment capital from its biggest investors, including Partech Partners, Greyhound Capital, QuonaCapital, FMO, and Orange Digital Ventures. Currently, Yoco supports over 70000 small businesses and has total funding of $23m. Their headquarters are in Cape Town but have offices in Johannesburg, Durban, and Pretoria.
Pesakit Startup is located in Kenya. It provides solutions using an AI-powered chatbot that communicates the money flow to these agents. It won the DFS chatbot Africa challenge and was also selected in the recent BFA Global Catalyst Africa.
NALA has over 250,000 customers and is easily becoming East Africa’s number one finance app. Earlier this year, Nala rolled out their beta app targeting UK customers sending back remittances to Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
Based in Egypt, money fellows is collaborative money management and lending platform. Although most external funding has been directed to West and East Africa, MoneyFellows secured a $4 million Series A investment, totaling $5.6m to fund its expansion across Africa and new product launches.
Paga is a mobile payment company, Paga processed $2.3 billion worth of transactions in 2020 and $8 billion during the past four years. Page recently disclosed its $1 billion valuation aim and Ethiopia expansion, as it aims to be Africa’s Next Unicorn. They currently have a total funding of $36.7m.
A good time to invest in Africa’s booming Fintech Space
With the current wave, there’s no better time to invest in Africa’s Fintech space. This is where the Shikana group comes in. Shikana group is a trusted guide for investment opportunities. They provide advisory services, strategies to help you navigate and regulate challenges, give practical solutions to drive growth, and manage risk while upholding your reputation and investment.
Shikana group offers all these by leveraging experience and knowledge on the international markets. The financial technology industry is just one of the sectors they cover extensively. They offer fintech consulting, covering emerging markets and trends across finance and the financial technology industry. They create customized strategies that meet up your needs and eventually result in smooth returns. The best offer has got to be legal aid and representation. They offer Research plus guided Legal Actions to ensure the protection of their client’s interest. Though stationed in Tanzania, East Africa, their reach is not limited and they can be contacted through their well-detailed website.
The fintech space in Africa is the most promising entrepreneurship space on the continent. These startups are redefining the future of the financial sector in Africa with cashless transactions, cryptocurrency remittances, mobile wallets, currency exchange, virtual cards, crypto trading and investment, multi-currency wallets, etc, well route to financial inclusion and empowerment in Africa.