[Africa Tech Week] Technology driving Fintech growth in Africa
The Fintech industry continues to grow drastically in Africa, thanks to technology. Banks and other financial institutions are adopting new technologies to satisfy the growing demands of their customers across the continent.
In Kenya, this week, Finserve, an independent arm of Equity Group unveiled mKey, an innovative keyboard app is the first ever to converge social, and financial services into an integrated lifestyle. The name mKey, which is inspired by the concept of mobile, is the key to unlocking new possibilities through the fusion of financial and social into an exciting keyboard app. International money transfer service WorldRemit also launched a new digital service within Africa aimed at reducing the cost of sending money across borders. WorldRemit also recently entered into a similar partnership with Dashen Bank for instant money transfers across Ethiopia. The company has also entered into similar dealings with Safaricom and First Bank of Nigeria.
Still, on Fintech, four businesses that are shaking up financial services in South Africa were this week named as finalists in AlphaCode’s recently launched accelerator programme, AlphaCode Accelerate. AlphaCode is Rand Merchant Investment Holding’s (RMI) incubation, acceleration and investment vehicle that identifies, partners and grows early stage financial service ventures. Just last month, AlphaCode announced that it had set aside R16 million to identify a new generation of financial services entrepreneurs through its AlphaCode Incubate initiative. In June it announced that it was looking for businesses or ideas that could change the face of financial services and invited applications for its prestigious AlphaCode Incubate programme.
Still this week, Google released top trending searches for the month of 2018 in Kenya. Sports betting platforms dominated the list of search items by Kenyans once again showing how betting is becoming a national past time. This came at the same time the search giant was hosting its first Web Rangers summit in Africa aimed at spreading awareness about internet safety and promoting responsible digital citizenship on the continent. Its Art Selfie tool also went live in Kenya and other countries globally this week. The new tool that connects art lovers with thousands of art pieces that resemble their face from art galleries across the world went live following experiments in the US that began in January. A few weeks ago, we also highlighted how Google Search has now made it possible for Swahili users to get more intelligent and contextualized results of people, things, and entities that Google already knows about.
This week, Safaricom also announced new measures to curb sim swap fraud. To further complement voice biometrics, Safaricom said is now exploring the use of finger and facial recognition. Over the last few weeks, the company has been on the spot after a number its customers' sim cards were swapped with some even losing their money. Safaricom and Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions in a previous article we published here however assured the public that the fight against Sim Swap fraud is on course. At the same time, Safaricom also announced a new partnership with Kenya Red Cross to introduce an SMS based information tool to provide timely early warnings for disasters and lessen the adverse effects on communities. Remember last month the mobile operator also partnered with Mobile Consumer Feedback Company mSurvey to enable merchants across the country to access customer feedback via Lipa Na M-Pesa through mSurvey’s platform.
Telkom Kenya this week also announced that it was setting up 200 new 4G sites in Nairobi, bringing the total number of sites owned by the company in Nairobi to 300. This comes a month after the telecommunications operator and Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet announced the signing of a definitive agreement to pilot an innovative new 4G/LTE access network service in Kenya. In May this year, it also expanded its 4G network coverage in Nairobi and its environs: Athi River, Syokimau, Kitengela, Thika, Kiambu town, Kikuyu town, Kiserian, and Ngong.
This week also saw a number of African startups secure funding to grow their operations. Yoco, the South African-based Point of Sale payments provider, raised a Series B round of US$16M led by Partech, a Venture Capital firm based in Silicon Valley, Europe and Africa, with participation from Orange Digital Ventures, FMO (The Dutch Development Bank) and existing Series A investors Quona Capital and Velocity Capital. Bwala Group, a Kenyan last mile logistics marketplace also secured a Ksh 24m debt financing from South African-based bank CFC Stanbic to meet the rising demand for last mile fleet connectivity.
On matters e-commerce Rwanda Based women health and personal care e-commerce and mobile platform Kasha launched its operations in Kenya this week, coming at a time when the uptake of e-commerce is really growing in Africa. In fact, according to a previous article published by Africa Business Communities, Over the next 10 years, online retail will continue to gain popularity in both developed and emerging markets and as a result, logistics companies are set to play a key role in providing vital supply chain management solutions that are able to evolve with consumers’ changing shopping habits.
This week also saw Standard Bank launch first of its kind social campaign on Twitter to show that inspiring and positive tweets can be turned into tangible educational tools with the help of 3D printing and laser cutters. Africa Registry, part of the CentralNic Group and provider of domain names for Africa since 2005, also launches gateway solution for domain names in Africa. Connectivity and data center solutions provider in West Africa, MainOne also announced the construction of the second phase of their West Africa’s largest Tier III+ Data center company (MDXi). The company also reiterated its commitment to leading the digital transformation efforts of the Francophone region with an initial investment of $20m on cable landing and data center projects in Cote D’Ivoire within the next 24 months. Just recently, the company also became the most certified data center in Nigeria and went ahead to MainOne appoints Ivorian GM to drive Francophone expansion.