Fintech in Africa is derived from the joining of two words, finance, and technology. The world of today and Africa especially continues to show promise that it can grow in technology with the majority of the population being dominated by young people. Right from the beginning of time itself, it is in man’s nature to evolve in his way of life. From stones to spears and guns for hunting, from horses to airplanes and even spaceships for movement, from fire to electricity for light and energy, from traditional messengers to telecommunications for interactions, and lastly, from commodities and solid stones to coins and banknotes for financial transactions.
WHAT IS FINTECH?
Financial activities in the past were dominated by institutions that serve as banks for money savers. The institution also lends money to investors who would have to pay back with interest. These institutions were run by either an individual or a group of people. As time went on, financial activities went beyond saving and borrowing money. Insurance, online trading, and risk management activities were seen as finance-related.
These methods of the transaction were seen as traditional as customers will have to visit the bank just to deposit or withdraw money which happens to be timewasting. Over time, technology took over the financial industries as banks began to encourage their clients to use the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) instead of queuing at the bank to withdraw cash. They could also make use of bank apps to make deposits. This was seen as more efficient and less strenuous on both the customers and bankers especially in Africa where it is difficult for institutions to be competent.
Fintech has been of immense value to the e-commerce sector. This is because more individuals are into buying and selling goods and services over the internet and after every agreement is made, payment is mostly done online. This eases both buyers and sellers the stress of meeting each other to pay cash which could easily be risky due to theft and fraud.
Fintech works with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Artificial intelligence and machine learning make it possible for financial transactions online to be well secured and safe from fraud. With artificial intelligence, fintech companies can advise you on what to invest in due to information gotten from your spending habits and interests. Furthermore, chatbots are inspired by this artificial intelligence technology to guide you on whatever decision you wish to make without any human interference.
FINTECH IN AFRICA
In 2020, the world was faced with one of the greatest challenges of all time which happened to affect and influence our way of living. The presence of Covid 19 brought in a lot of negatives with people losing their jobs and companies reducing their productivity thereby resulting in a loss. Even governments were not left out because of the downward movement faced by the GDP. Nevertheless, as this was happening, fintech companies were one of the top booming enterprises in Africa.
With the dominance of young people in Africa, there has been a significant increase in the use of smartphones and a drop in the price of the internet. This means more people have easy access to make transactions online. Banks have also put measures in place to ensure that clients run their transactions online thereby forcing more people to go digital. Furthermore, the total number of people that are unbanked in Africa is about 350 million which is 17% of the world total. This shows that there is an opportunity to invest in the fintech market in Africa who has a largely untapped market share.
TOP FINTECH COUNTRIES IN AFRICA
South Africa: South Africa has the largest fintech market in Africa because a high percentage of them are internet users (94%) and 67% have bank accounts. The population of phone users is on the high side and this makes it possible for fintech companies to invest in such a country where there is high potential.
Nigeria: In 2020, an American tech company, Stripe, acquired PayStack, a Nigerian fintech startup for $200 million. Furthermore, OPay and FlutterWaves are the leading fintech companies in Nigeria and arguably the rest of Africa. OPay recorded 5 million users and has processed over 60% of all mobile money transactions in Nigeria. Today, over 80% of bank transfers among mobile money operators and 20% of non-merchant PoS transactions have been processed by OPay.
Flutterwaves, on the other hand, has been in existence since 2016 and has recently been named as one of the top 100 most influential companies in Times magazine. They provide transaction solutions to over 200,000 businesses and 33 African countries. They were also among the only two African companies to partner with the inaugural Basketball Africa League games.
Egypt: The Egyptian government has made the country a powerhouse in terms of fintech in Africa as they are one of the most developed nations in that sector. As part of the country’s vision and goal for 2030, fintech services are being expanded in the country with the government making positive policies to ensure that the fintech industry is part of their daily lives.
WHY AFRICA IS A RIPE DESTINATION FOR FINTECH INVESTORS
- Population: The population of Africa is rapidly increasing which would make the traditional means of financial activities more strenuous to all parties involved. Fintech industries can leverage population growth and encourage the use of online transactions. Furthermore, with the high number of people that are yet to be banked, fintech industries can engage in one on one marketing to reach out to such people and get them as part of their market share.
- Capital: One of the benefits of fintech is the ability to make transactions easily without geographical restrictions. Platforms like Gofundme have been used at different times to raise capital for individuals and businesses alike. This is one of the key reasons why Africa fintech companies experienced positive growth in their businesses during the Covid 19 pandemic because investors were able to reach out to them easily through crowdfunding platforms.
- Internet services: Fintech companies in Africa cannot be of great use without the internet. This is because, over time, gaining access to the internet has been an issue due to lack of access to smart mobile devices that are very costly and in addition to this, the price of internet services have also been high. But currently, with more internet providers available, competitive prices have ensured that people access data services with ease. This has ensured that over 600 million people in Africa (11% of the world population) have access to the internet. With time, as internet prices begin to drop, there is a likely chance that the number of users will spike up, thereby, making it possible for fintech services to be more accessible to potential clients.
- Government policies: Governments like Egypt and South Africa have made policies to ensure that fintech is advanced in their countries. Investors will be attracted to the notion that the government is in support of the growth of the fintech sector in such countries and they will be willing to invest. The government also have to put strategies in place to ensure that the fintech industries are not discouraged. For example, creating ridiculous taxes and decisions like the banning of cryptocurrency in Nigeria.
- The rise in Online Trading: Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya account for more than half of the online shoppers in Africa according to UNCTAD reports. This is accompanied by the increase in internet activities on the continent. Furthermore, small and medium scaled businesses have been on the increase as well and to reach out to more customers, these businesses have to go digital. The benefit of this will bring the need for fintech services so that transactions can be held with ease irrespective of the location of both parties involved. Fintech investors in Africa can take advantage of the rising online businesses.
- More Investment and Employment Opportunities: Not only is there a large market in Africa but there is also a large amount of human capital. Lagos, one of the largest cities in Africa is dominated by lots of fintech firms that are growing rapidly thanks to the amount of labour that has been put in place to make the fintech sector attractive. With skilled individuals who have sound knowledge of artificial learning, machine learning, data analytics, robot process automation and so on, the investment in such a booming sector will be attractive to potential investors.
Shikana Group is a leading legal and investment advisory firm that is dedicated to serving investors both in Africa and internationally. With professional analyses and research, they advise potential investors on how to venture into booming sectors like the fintech industry in Africa. With many years of experience and consistency accompanied by good recommendations from clients, the firm ensures that your investment journey in the fintech industry leads to productivity.
Africa has the potential to be one of the leading players in the fintech sector and has continued to show great promise. With the right investment and government policies to increase the number of smartphone and internet users on the continent, fintech in Africa will be the forerunner of what is to come in the tech industry.