Financial technology (FinTech) is a growing market worldwide. However, the emergence and development of the FinTech industry in Africa is proving incredibly valuable. In October of last year, the first African Fintech Awards took place in Johannesburg – highlighting the sense of respect and need for the industry in developing countries.
So What Do Some of the Biggest African Names in FinTech Actually Do?
To find out, let’s have a look at some of biggest names in FinTech – a selection of last years’ inaugural African FinTech Awards.
The overall winner of the 2016 African FinTech Awards was Easyequities / Satrixnow. Founded in South Africa in 2013, both arms of the company offer entry-level investment for first time investors. The premise is simple – to provide a fun, friendly and jargon-free way to invest at a low cost. To put it another way, CEO Charles Savage says the goal of the business is to ‘democratise share ownership’. It seems the company is well on the way to achieving this ambition; some of the corporate ‘barriers’ to those less-experienced investors seem to be lowered through the business’ relatable and affordable investment angle.
Connect Africa Payments (CA Payments) won in the Payments and Transfers public award. As a B2B technology business, CA Payments work to connect and grow payment networks. Currently, main focus is on East Africa. However, as the network establishes itself, West African partners are coming onboard. It has taken huge steps at improving infrastructure across Africa since its foundation in Kenya in 2012; it offers the final stretch in transactions such as mobile wallets, deposits, bill payments and airtime top-up – vital to the growth of the continent’s economy and industries.
Established in 2013, Bitpesa offers the latest in business to business payments. Utilising the latest blockchain technology, Bitpesa’s focus is on increasing efficiency across markets – both nationally and internationally. Bitpesa won in 2016 the Blockchain and Bitcoin Public Awards category. It allows companies to reclaim control over their payments. Trades can be completed within minutes, and the nature of blockchain technology ensures transactions are secure. Bitcoins can be purchased via Bitpesa in its founding country of Kenya, as well as Nigeria and Uganda.
One of the older companies to win an award last year was South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB). Although it was founded in 1970, FNB’s roots are also in the Eastern Province Bank which was formed in 1838. It has kept abreast of technological developments to become a leading provider of mobile banking in South Africa – winning in the Incumbent Bank category. Indeed it was the first to offer such an app in its home country. How has its app become a market leader? Simply by offering more than what you might expect in a banking app. Among many other unique offerings, FNB’s app gives customers access to retail coupons and vouchers, allows users to withdraw at any FNB ATM without a card and gives assistance with buying and selling property. The bank’s longevity seems to be associated with a forward-thinking approach and ability to be more than just a bank to its customers.
These companies provide just a small snapshot of the FinTech industry in Africa. It is refreshing and exciting to see new technologies being developed and rolled out. Who knows what potential there is in the future of this industry? One thing is for sure – Africa is in transition; with such developments it is an exciting time to be backing African FinTech market. Online share trading is a simple way to make an investment in the African market.
By Luke Hatkinson-Kent