Financial technology – Fintech, has become a significant force in shaping the structure of the financial services industry in Africa and the world at large. With over 60% of the adult population being unbanked and the financial sector considerably underdeveloped, fintech has been a welcomed revolution that is seen to be boosting Africa’s financial infrastructure.
This revolution is being led by fintech startups that were the most popular among investors in 2019. According to the annual African Tech Startups Funding Report 2019 released by startup news and research portal Disrupt Africa, 77 African fintech startups raised a combined $107 million during the year.
For countries like Kenya, fintech has helped the country achieve near-total financial inclusion, currently at 82.9 percent; the highest on the continent.
Leon Kiptum, Country Manager for fintech startup Chipper Cash, said in a recent interview with TechTrendsKE that the fintech space in Kenya and Africa, in general, is growing rapidly and is also becoming competitive because of the incumbents and the startups, who are all battling for the market share.
‘’The space is very exciting to be in because there are so many problems to be solved. Africa has a myriad of financial challenges to solve and as Chipper, we view this market as being in the early stages with massive opportunities to improve on the status quo,’’ he said.
Chipper Cash is a mobile cross-border money transfer platform offering instant cross-border mobile money transfers in Africa. The startup was co-founded by Serunjogi (from Uganda) and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled, both of whom emigrated to the U.S. to study and work in Silicon Valley.
‘’We are two years into the business and we are growing very fast. We are focusing on the unbanked and underbanked population, can they easily access financial services by virtue of the fact that they are using the chipper cash platform?,’’ intimated Leon.
By using the Chipper Cash app, available on Android and Apple store, users can send and receive money to and from anyone within the coverage area for free.
Even with all these advancements, a big question still remains; is Africa really ready for these fintech products?
According to Leon, Africa is indeed ready for this disruption. ‘’Africa is ready, if you look at the number of fintech companies that have set up in Africa and excelling it tells you everything. The market is ready for these solutions like what Chipper is offering,’’ he said.
FinTech has the potential to strengthen and accelerate important gains in financial development achieved in sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades. This is why there is a significantly impressive push to grow the fintech industry in Africa in 2020 and beyond, both from the private sector and governments.
For instance, the Africa Fintech Network (AFN) is expected to greatly impact and contribute to making Africa a leading global Innovation Hub in 2020 and beyond, by promoting the region as a preferred investment destination.
For startups like Chipper, Leon says, they’re connecting Africa one transaction at a time, having developed an easy to use mobile application that makes money transfer fast, secure and free.
With such solutions shaping the world of mobile payments, delivering cutting-edge financial services to the previously unbanked and fuelling the growth of Africa’s digital economy, it is clear where the future of fintech is heading in Africa.
‘’The future of fintech in Africa is very exciting and traditional banks should start asking themselves very difficult questions because the fintech revolution is just starting. For us at Chipper we view Africa as a global leader in Fintech. There are very many impactful innovations that have come up and some that are yet to come up that will extend across the globe,’’ he said.
After two years in operation and a $22 million in capital, Chipper now has more than 3 million monthly users and a transaction volume of more than $100 million per month. In Kenya, the company is approaching 1 million users.
‘’With these numbers, it is clear we’re meeting a real need. That our solution is relevant to the problems we want solved,’’ Leon said.
The company currently operates in seven African countries: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya with plans to expand to other African markets.
‘’These are exciting times for financial services, and its solutions like ours that will transform access to financial services and we are happy to be part of that journey,’’ concluded Leon.