The rise of Fintech in South Africa

March 12, 2018 • Finance, Opinion, Southern Africa

The rise of Fintech in South Africa

Colin Timmis, Head of Accounting, South Africa, Xero.

Only the hunger to innovate will truly disrupt. In 2018, it’s an absolute necessity. It prevents industries from settling into a complacent status quo and keeps businesses alert and competitive. One sector that is currently undergoing transformative change in South Africa is the world of finance.

Businesses are increasingly aware of the potential of fintech. It’s expected that the market will amount to $10,499m by the end of 2018 and digital payments will make up the largest section of its emerging prominence.

South Africa’s fintech bubble is growing, and this has important implications for the country’s small businesses, opening up new ways for you to manage your finances and transact with customers.

Making connections

Our digital infrastructure is gaining huge traction day-by-day. With it, this brings unprecedented advantages to how small businesses engage with potential investors and customers, explore new partnerships and increase their brand awareness.

The demand for digital services is increasing – pushing fintech innovation to new frontiers. This can be seen in the number of accelerators and incubators launching across South Africa. Cape Town recently hosted its first Startupbootcamp which focused on sourcing scalable technology solutions applicable to diversified financial services and related industries.

Other events include the African Angel Investor Summit and BCX Disrupt to name but a few. These events are bringing together the best in the business, showcasing game-changing ideas and attracting the start-up community’s top talent.

South Africa’s financial sector is at a real turning point and our traditional banks are also seeing this tide of change. Hamstrung by legacy infrastructure, many of the big financial institutions are looking at new ways to stay relevant among the tech-savvy millennial generation. Now’s the time for technologically enabled small businesses to offer what their larger rivals can’t always do: a fast and efficient digital connection.

How fintech benefits small businesses

Millennials are a digitally native generation. They grew up online and use digital tools in their everyday work and social lives. The digital marketplace is like their second home – so if you want to reach them, you need to take your business online.

There is no doubt that by harnessing new technologies, your business can access bigger and better global opportunities. You can step out of your immediate community and conduct business across borders – without leaving your desk.

If you’re considering taking this leap into e-commerce, then it’s time to get your fintech game on. There are plenty of apps out there to support your online presence and help you run a small – yet successful – business.

You can get a real-time rundown of your stock supplies with VendHQ, manage your payments easily with GoCardless and handle all your invoices with WorkflowMax or Tradify. It pays to be an environmentally aware business these days, so embrace sustainability and cut down on paper. Apps like Receipt Bank will help you save trees and give back to the planet.

The beauty of going digital is that you can sort out bills and expenses, and track your debts without having to flit between multiple spreadsheets. This makes managing a business or practice a lot less challenging. It reduces the time-sapping admin to give you more time to focus on business growth.

Beyond Fintech, it’s worth saying an online business is also much more flexible. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access work from your smartphone or computer – be it at home, on the road or in a beach café. You can take your business with you almost anywhere – and share files easily using programmes like Microsoft Office, SuiteFiles and G Suite.

Fintech is advancing fast and those South African businesses that embrace its benefits sooner rather than later will be first in line to enjoy richer rewards – and ride the wave of innovation straight to the top.

By Colin Timmis, Head of Accounting, South Africa, Xero

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