Technology specialist, e4, achieved second place in the second Ecobank Fintech Challenge, hosted in Lomé, Togo. According to Andrea Tucker, R&D Head at e4, the lack of a fully digital onboarding solution across the majority of banks is one of the key reasons behind e4’s impressive second position in this Africa-focused innovation challenge.
“Onboarding customers is notorious for its tedious nature, for both the bank and customer. Although it is a time-consuming and expensive process, it is legislated in every country to complete a full KYC exercise on each new customer. Even though we initially developed the Virtual Identity solution for the South African market, Ecobank executives immediately recognised its viability across the continent. The common pain points associated with onboarding customers are greatly reduced, and the solution goes a long way in increasing financial inclusion by making digital account opening and fulfilment a reality,” says Tucker.
She says that it was evident through the quality of the 11 finalists that fintech is alive and flourishing across the African continent. Representing 8 African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda, the solutions were engaging and relevant: “It was clear to see that each country on the continent has its own unique challenges. This doesn’t mean, however, that a solution developed for Tanzania won’t be of value to a country such as Sierra Leone. The Ecobank Fintech Challenge proved invaluable to all when it came to knowledge sharing, while also gaining a deeper understanding of banking Africans. It is wonderful to see that all companies, regardless of size, have an equal opportunity to participate in our country’s economy.”
Technologies such as mobile and digital platforms featured in the top three winners, while e4’s Virtual Identity has the potential to enable the company to fast-track its African strategy. Tucker says Ecobank and other key stakeholders are ready to discuss next steps for the onboarding solution: “We are excited to understand the challenges and explore options for our technology in new countries.”
Locally, the e4 solution will shortly be implementing its first Virtual Identity solution as part of its package of Digital Onboarding services. Taking place at one of South Africa’s leading banks, Tucker says they are excited to realise e4’s vision of a fully digitised sign-up process for new-to-bank customers by utilising Virtual Identity to verify a customer against their identity document.”
According to e4, most countries within the African continent face similar challenges: “It is exhilarating to see the amount of young startup’s developing solutions that address country-specific challenges. This level of creativity and innovation is a strong indicator of the drive and willingness they have to make a difference,” says Tucker.
She says that despite this, most African based startups face immense difficulty sourcing funding to grow their businesses. Despite the continent’s low penetration rates for traditional banking services, and solid penetration into the mobile phone market, funding isn’t easy to access locally.
As a leading fintech player, e4 is motivated and committed to assist with improving the levels of financial inclusion throughout the continent by partnering with a Pan African bank such as Ecobank, for the benefit of Africans across the continent.