According to Research carried out by KPMG and CB Insights, 2015 was a record year for fintech investment, with US$19.1 billion invested globally. It is estimated that the financial services industry is one of the biggest in the world at about US$11 trillion in revenue. Accenture estimates that 35% of this is at risk of disruption from fintech startups.
Early this year, Disrupt Africa released African Tech Startups Funding Report which showed that fintech was the most popular destination for funding in the technology sector after solar in 2015. According to the report, fintech startups attracted 29.6% over the course of 2015.
The reasons for the increased fintech funding in Africa are clear. The continent’s traditional banking has failed, with 330 million adults, around 80 % of the population in the continent, lacking access to formal financial services. That is a huge gap that fintech startups could fill with innovative solutions.
The increase of new and successful fintech startups in Africa can be linked to innovations that meet the needs of the unbanked population. By reducing financial inclusion, fintech is facilitating economic growth in Africa. The backbone of a thriving economy is strong financial sector combined with financial inclusion.
The success of fintech in Africa can be shown by various remarkable fintech businesses. Such fintech companies are:
Merchant Capital: A provider of alternative sources of working capital intended to serve Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa
Zoona – A money transfer business operating in Malawi and Zambia. To date, Zoona has attracted over 1.5-million customers and has processed more than $1 billion in transaction value across a network of over 1,500 agent outlets.
Rainfin – The largest P2P platform that focuses on SMEs in South Africa.
M-Pesa – A mobile phone-based money transfer in Kenya.
Snapscan – A business that provides a cashless, cardless payment app that users can use at thousands of different traders across South Africa.
Other successful fintech startups in Africa that are worth of my piece include Space Kenya Networks Limited, Pantera Capital Management, The Savannah Fund, 22Seven, Nomanini, Cellulant, GetBucks, Bankymoon, Bitsoko, Cellulant, ExpenZa, Gust Pay, IMB, InterSwitch, and InVenture.
This week, Mastercard and South African mobile payments startup iKhokha announced a partnership that aims to increase payment card acceptance at micro, small and medium enterprises, while educating business owners and consumers on the benefits of using electronic payments instead of cash. According to iKhokha’s study, low-income earners who are banked, usually withdraw their monthly earnings from an ATM, and then carry cash for the month because there is very limited card acceptance. The study shows there is a big market in electronic payments in the continent.
The financial technology growth is set to continue, and the need of the fintech market in Africa is extremely big, of which fintech entrepreneurs haven’t yet scratched the surface. More and more people in Africa require financial services of some form. Although waves of disruption will definitely occur, the basic need to borrow, save, insure and transact will never disappear. Therefore, the need to innovate and deliver those services will always be there. That makes Africa an exciting place for fintech investment now and in the future.