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[Column] Ismail Ally: The opportunity for fintech in Africa lies with its rising youth population column

[Column] Ismail Ally: The opportunity for fintech in Africa lies with its rising youth population

Africa’s fintech sector is expected to be worth approximately $65 billion by 2030, aligning with the United Nations (UN) projection that the continent’s population will double to 2.4 billion by 2050, with half of the population being under the age of 25.

The rapid growth of the fintech sector has been driven by its youthful demographic, technology advancements and adoption and the socio-economic need for entrepreneurship.

This demographic trend, together with an increase in internet and mobile phone usage, is enabling fintech innovations and adoption to flourish. Young Africans, who are digital natives, are not only quick to embrace new technologies but are also driving the demand for more accessible, efficient and affordable financial services.

This is in response to the traditional banking sector’s limitations, where access to financial services has been a challenge, particularly in remote or underserved areas.These trendswill influence the fintech sector in the coming months.

Increased financial inclusion using digital channels

Realising a financially-included Africa has taken centre stage as more fintechs step in to bridge the gap between traditional banking services, and the unbanked or underbanked populations. These innovative companies are leveraging technology to offer accessible, affordable and tailored financial solutions. 

Digital banking and the increase in adoption of digital payment solutions is the answer to extending financial services to unbanked and underbanked populations in Africa. The widespread increase in smartphone usage across Africa has fuelled an explosion in digital financial services, ranging from digital-only banks and personal finance management tools to contactless payments and digital wallets. 

By leveraging mobile technologies like this, which have enjoyed widespread adoption even in remote areas, digital banking services can reach people who previously had no access to traditional banking. This inclusivity promotes economic empowerment and poverty reduction.
When competition paves the way for innovations to thrive

The rise in digital banking services across Africa has led to a competitive environment that encourages innovation. Both fintech startups and traditional banks are rapidly innovating to provide more user-friendly, efficient and affordable services. 

This competitive environment not only improves service quality for existing products like cross-border payment solutions and remittances, but drives the adoption of new technologies, such as blockchain for secure transactions and artificial intelligence for personalised banking experiences. As fintechs and banks vie to capture a larger share of the market, they are driven to explore untapped areas and cater to previously overlooked segments of the population.

Beefing up cybersecurity 

Now more than ever, cybersecurity must remain a priority in the world of fintech. As we manage more of our day to day lives in an online environment, from banking to shopping, keeping our information safe from hackers and cyber criminals is crucial.

Companies are working tirelessly to build stronger defences against cybercrime, cyber threats, data breaches and system vulnerabilities to protect their customers’ data.

Today’s cybercriminals are so sophisticated that anyone can fall victim to their highly ‘realistic’ scams. This means it’s not just about being careful online; it’s about being informed and vigilant, with the onus on both fintech and consumer to ensure they have taken every precaution to protect their data. 

To avoid being a victim, always triple-check sources – if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Consumers should never share personal information unless they are sure of the recipient’s authenticity, and are advised to use strong, unique passwords for different accounts. By staying informed on the latest scam tactics and using the tools available to protect their digital lives, consumers can better safeguard themselves against these advanced threats.

Africa offers the perfect environment for fintechs to thrive, thanks to its young and growing population that is keen on using digital solutions to manage their money. This gives fintechs a chance to create services that really meet the needs of its young people, helping the sector grow. 

Ismail Ally is the chief operations officer at eZaga Holdings

 


 

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