Africa - the market of unexplored opportunities
Although Africa is considered to be the largest unserved market that has dropped out of sight of the global financial system, there are segments in its financial services industry that is highly advanced in terms of the adoption scale and attractiveness to entrants. For instance, remittance via mobile has picked up a rapid pace in Africa, with Kenyans already using mobile money services for over eight years.
As a market, Africa has all the prerequisites to serve as a firm foundation for growth and development. Among the key data points characterizing Africa’s financial system, as outlined by the SWIFT Institute, are as follows:
Both banks and nonbanks are allowed to provide mobile money services in 47 out of the 89 markets where mobile money is available.
Half of almost 300 million registered accounts of mobile money globally are located in sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition, there are 2.26 million mobile money agents in developing countries around the world, a figure that is comparable with the number of alternative financial access points comprising ATMs (1.38 million), commercial bank branches (524,000), post offices (501,000) and Western Union locations (500,000).
In the face of an outstanding opportunity presented in Africa, an ecosystem of FinTech startups providing services across segments has grown to transform the financial services industry in that continent for inclusive growth (with the support of dedicated accelerators and incubators). In this overview, we will be focusing on Nigeria – one of the most promising economies for entrepreneurs.
Nigeria has an opportunity to establish itself as one of the hottest FinTech hubs
Professionals emphasize significant FinTech opportunities in Nigeria that could potentially redefine the financial services landscape over the next five years.
“The fast growing young population (115 million people below the age of 35), exponential growth of mobile phone lines (estimated at 150 million as at July 2016), huge financial inclusion potential (less than 50 million people with bank accounts in a population of 170 million people, based on Bank Verification Number [BVN] data) and relatively strong talent pool (buoyed by Nigerians in diaspora) are pertinent indicators of the FinTech opportunity,” as noted by Boye Ademola, Partner, KPMG US.
Some of the important highlights on the opportunities in Nigeria’s financial services industry, as observed by industry professionals, include the following:
Predominantly cash-driven Nigerian economy has been responding well to the FinTech opportunity. This is partly demonstrated by the exponential growth in mobile money operations from an average monthly transaction value of $5 million in 2011 to $142.8 million in 2016. The growing FinTech penetration is attributed to a surge in e-commerce and smartphone penetration.
FinTech investment in Africa has increased significantly from $198 million in 2014 to ~$800 million in 2016, as investors are increasingly attracted to the industry’s potential to tap into Africa’s huge unserved/underserved population. Investments in Nigeria and Africa as a whole have been primarily focused on payment solutions, as other FinTech segments such as lending and wealth management, are in a relatively nascent stage.
Smartphone penetration in Nigeria (i.e., the percentage of adults owning a smartphone) is estimated at 28%, with 76% of internet traffic routed through mobile phones.
The payment space is one of the most attractive segments for FinTechs in Nigeria, and it has become a key source of revenue for banks and other payment service providers. As part of its Payments Systems Vision (PSV) initiative to reform the payment industry, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched the cashless Nigeria policy giving rise to several innovative payment systems propelled by changing consumer patterns, rising adoption of smartphones, increased internet penetration, and deployment of ATMs.
A strong talent pipeline of inexpensive and easy-to-hire tech workforce is one of the driving forces behind the emergence of FinTechs in Nigeria.
About 70% of Nigerian traders own a mobile phone. Findings also show that 74% of them are prepared to learn a new technology and that over 30% have been denied access to credit from a financial institution. Also important is that 56% of the traders survey source funds from families, friends, and unions; over 60% require funds less than N30,000.
With the size of annual diaspora remittances to Nigeria estimated at $21 billion in 2015, this country is one area prone to disruption from digital currencies given the speed, efficiency and cost benefits of the latter. For instance, Bitcoin remittance firms charge fees in the range of 3% compared to the 7-10% commission charged by traditional players.
While blockchain is in its early stages of adoption in Nigeria, consumers have used Bitcoin and digital currencies since the late 2000s. The Bitcoin Market Potential Index (BMPI) by the London School of Economics ranked Nigeria 7th out of 178 countries likely to adopt Bitcoin.
According to the Global Findex report, in Nigeria, 80% of adults paid utility bills with cash, while 15% made payments directly from a financial institution account. What’s more, another 1% of users reported that they paid their utility bills both from a financial institution account and through a mobile phone—in all cases from a mobile money account.
Over the past few years, there has been steady progress in improving financial inclusion in Nigeria. It is estimated that about 40% of Nigerians are still financially excluded as the 2020 target of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is 20%.
As the Nigerian customer evolves, banks are leveraging new technologies to improve the banking customer experience since more and more financial transactions are now conducted via digital channels. In February 2014, the CBN through the Bankers’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria launched a centralized biometric identification system also known as Bank Verification Number (BVN) for the banking industry. Today, all P2P lenders depend on BVN in addition to other information for operating their lending models.
Nigeria’s FinTech Ecosystem
The future of Nigeria’s FinTech ecosystem is very bright. Listed below are the FinTech companies in Nigeria:
247Cash.ng is an online platform that facilitates credit facilities in Africa by providing loans for both informal and formal sector of the economy. The platform connects borrowers to lenders and guarantees borrowers’ prompt payback. Also, 247Cash.ng receives a commission on every successful transaction.
Aella Credit is a provider of financial employee benefits. Aella Credit pride itself in building platforms that make it easier for individuals in Africa to gain access to credit facilities. Currently, 425 million employed Africans have no access to credit. The company is building a fair alternative to employee lending and empowerment. Aella Credit’s pilot is launched with a focus on the Nigerian market and is integrated with local credit bureaus.
Amplify is a complete customer engagement solution for subscription businesses. It is a secure platform that focuses on providing one-time and recurring payment capabilities to businesses. Amplify handles recurring/subscription billing directly from the customers debit/credit card. Once a transaction is completed, both the merchant and the customer receive a notification from Amplify. The company also provides a simple interface from which merchants can manage the subscriptions of their customers.
AppZone is a provider of banking and payment solutions. This company has registered about 2 million accounts. It also issues over 30,000 cards and processes 100,000 transactions daily. AppZone provides such solutions as retail banking cloud solutions, personal banking cloud solutions, commerce cloud solutions, branchless and agent banking cloud solutions, business banking cloud solutions, and mobile financial platform, as well as a range of on-premise products (e.g., instant & automated card issuance, prepaid card management, EFT settlements and auto reconciliation, and ATM monitoring).
AutoGenius is an online and mobile distributed auto insurance platform offering both third-party and comprehensive insurance policies to Nigerians.
Cassava is a specialized Pan-African FinTech company that delivers digital transaction solutions across the mobile ecosystem. The company delivers solutions through its strategic partners (such as mobile operators) in attaining its immediate and long-term strategic goals.
ChatPay allows users to perform financial transactions directly from some social media channels. Features of this company include balance enquiry, funds transfer, ATM locator, airtime purchases, bill payments, account mini statement, help through chat, cinema listings, and change PIN.
CowriePay is a payment gateway that allows customers to buy now and pay later. This company is in partnership with licensed financial services providers, fund providers, and retailers/merchants. At CowriePay, customers can also send and receive money from anyone with an email or mobile phone number.
Eagle Global Markets (EGM) is a multi-asset derivative trading provider located in Lagos, Nigeria. The company provides its investors with a range of services such as Indices, Forex, Commodities, Equities and much more. Apart from being available on desktop, mobile and tablet devices, EGM enables its clients to trade in Naira.
Electronic Settlement Limited (ESL) is a financial technology company that provides solutions to financial/payment problems in Nigeria and Africa. Its solutions include CashEnvoy – a payment gateway system that allows payments and money transfer online; PayPad – the first NIBSS certified mPOS provider in Nigeria, which enables merchants receive payments and earn additional income via the pairing of a smart phone; and an mPOS device.
eTranzact is Nigeria’s multi-application and multi-channel electronic transaction switching and payment processing platform. eTranzact has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, and UK and is currently expanding its business operations to other countries across the globe. Launched in September 2003, eTranzact currently has a global reach extending its services to include products across all aspects of the e-payment space: ATM, Internet, POS, and Mobile. eTranzact has also deployed its mobile payment solutions to banks and other financial institutions alike. Moreover, the CBN granted eTranzact the license to provide mobile money services to individuals with a special focus on the non-banking sector.
eZawadi is a targeted or purposeful remittance service that leverages merchant network of a cross-Africa gift voucher provider known as SureGifts to enable users to send electronic gift vouchers, which can be used to purchase goods and services easily at several quality merchants across Africa. eZawadi does not facilitate cash transfers, and the vouchers which it retails can only be used within a closed network of merchants in the recipients’ country. Individuals can also use eZawadi to pay utility bills and send airtime to loved ones directly.
fastwallet is a CBN mobile money operator. fets’ mobile money enables the transfer of money from one point to another (person, business, and government) using the electronic value of money on basic mobile phones.
Flutterwave provides the underlying technology platform that allows businesses to make and accept payments anywhere in Africa. In just over a year since its launch, Flutterwave’s technology has been responsible for processing over $1.2 billion dollars across 10 million transactions. Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Lagos, Nairobi, Accra, Johannesburg, the company is eliminating barriers to the digital economy for African consumers and businesses.
FriendsVow is the Internet bank of financial credit that connects people with credit online by democratizing access to online credit. With FriendsVow, users can create a weekly, monthly or quarterly line of credit with their friends and family by the click of a button.
Interswitch is an Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company that facilitates the electronic circulation of money as well as the exchange of value between individuals and organizations on a timely and consistent basis. The company started operations in 2002 as a transaction switching and electronic payments processing company that builds and manages payment infrastructure as well as delivering innovative payment products and transactional services throughout the African continent.
Jostpay is a digital payment solutions company with an expertise in the virtual currency technology and payment gateway Application Programming Interface (API). Jostpay connects users with its partners who are virtual currency merchants all over the world, thereby making it possible to convert virtual currencies (Bitcoin, PM, Okpay, Payeer, Epay, etc.) to cash in any country. Services of Jostpay include Bitcoin wallet for sending and receiving Bitcoin; the exchange of virtual currencies to cash in any country in the world; the provision of payment gateways (APIs) for website owners to receive payments in MasterCard, Verve, Visa and Perfect Money in Nigeria; and the provision of payment gateways (APIs) for website owners to receive Bitcoin from anywhere in the world.
Chams Mobile Ltd is a joint venture between Chams PLC (an indigenous listed ICT company) and Bancore AS (a Danish mobile financial services processor). Apart from being awarded a mobile money (payments) license in 2012, Chams Mobile offers customers a full range of mobile–linked financial services through linking physical and virtual visa cards to its basic wallet offering. It also provides a range of unique “cash-in” and “cash-out” methods with any bank card. The company has built a financial services product package, which offers a real alternative for customers from the unbanked to high-net-worth. Chams Mobile is linked to broader financial services industry in Nigeria, including NIBSS (Nigerian Interbank system), banks, InterSwitch and Visa.
Kerems is a full-service electronic payment providers, offering online and mobile payment access. As an online service provider, a server collocation, and a local internet service provider (ISP), the company allows people and companies to access and publish documents on the Internet without the need to hire full-time system administrators, costly high-speed network connections, dedicated servers, and other similar expenses or expertise. In sum, the company provides many of the services that customers need to make transactions online.
KiaKia is a licensed, entirely-online, direct and P2P lender that uses technology to provide direct personal loans at flexible rates. This company matches borrowers with individuals or corporate lenders at mutually-agreed rates. With improved credibility, borrowers are able to make their own interest rates offer to selected lenders while KiaKia takes a little fee for creating and managing the platform.
KongaPay is a safe and secure payment method. Regarded as the preferred online payment platform in Nigeria, KongaPay is created in partnership with leading banks in Nigeria to ensure trust and safety for both buyers and sellers.
Kudi is an AI-powered chatbot designed to help users with their personal finances. Kudi uses everyday conversational style to communicate with the user. Kudi also helps users to transfer money, keep track of account details, buy airtime, pay recurring bills such as GOTV, DSTV and PHCN, and remind them when these bills are due.
Lidya uses mobile-first technology and proprietary credit scoring algorithms to help African businesses and individuals open an account online in 15 minutes, manage funds, and access credit needed to grow their businesses and plan their futures. In addition, Lidya created dashboards and tools not only to help businesses manage their receivables and cash flow but also to assist individuals build credit scores that unlock higher credit limits and affordable rates.
MKOBO Microfinance Bank Limited is a fully microfinance bank licensed by the CBN. MKOBO was conceived to help solve consumers have access to short-term emergency credit. The company’s goal is to provide access to short-term, easily accessible unsecured loans. The company caters to the demography currently underserved by the Commercial banks, and its aim is to help increase financial inclusion of the Nigerian population. MKOBO does not require any collateral or guarantor in most cases and offers support when customers need a helping hand. Services of this company include emergency loan, short-term loan, personal loan, payday loan, salary advance, micro loans, quick loans, no collateral loans, and bespoke loans.
M-NAIRA is a value-sharing and money transfer services platform that interconnects all Nigerian bank accounts, mobile wallets and billing systems in order to deliver instant remittance services to Nigerians across the globe. M-NAIRA allows customers to make real-time money transfers from debit or credit card to Nigeria bank accounts and mobile money wallets.
microCASH (mCASH) provides payment solutions that can help sellers to instantly receive payments from buyers with their mobile phones. The seller will be required to have a seller code, which is an 8-digit unique number assigned by a financial institution to any seller on mCASH.
Microcred is a digital finance company focusing on financial inclusion in Africa and China. Microcred offers financial services to emerging client segments, particularly the unbanked with a focus on micro and SMEs. Microcred operates in Madagascar, Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and China.
mytradebook is an online stockbroking service powered by Greenwich Securities Ltd. This firm allows investors buy and sell listed shares/bond at the Nigerian Stock Exchange from any location of their convenience.
Nairabox is a social e-wallet application that allows users to buy airtime on the go, pay bills, donate to a charity and buy movies or event tickets from the comfort of their home or workplace.
NairaEx is a Nigerian Bitcoin exchange where users can buy and sell bitcoin and other e-currencies with Naira through the company’s trading platform.
NOWNOW provides a bank and MNO agnostic online platform to recharge any mobile, pay bills, utilities, send/receive money and pay@shop directly to merchants. The amount paid by consumers is returned in the form of cash back and coupons, thus making the recharge almost free. The company is a PCI-DSS compliant and is licensed under the CBN. NOWNOW also offers an agent platform that enables additional streams of revenue for individuals and businesses along with providing financial services to the unbanked – a service that allow them to offer p2p, bank transfers, cash out, mobile recharge, pay bills etc.
OsusuMobile is a financial service built in partnership with Ecobank Nigeria to push financial inclusion and make basic banking services accessible to the unbanked and underbanked. Its range of products includes My Osusu, Osusu Groups, and Fixed Osusu. OsusuMobile is an agent-centric way of banking that enables individuals save money with agents in an easy and convenient way, using mobile phone. OsusuMobile charges 5% of total savings on cash withdrawals.
Paga was founded in early 2009 with a mission to transform lives by delivering innovative and universal access to financial services across Africa. Paga is a direct-to-consumer mobile payments service licensed by the CBN.
Paylater is an entirely online lending platform that provides short-term loans in Nigeria to help cover unexpected expenses or urgent cash needs. Customers can apply for a Paylater loan 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with its quick application process that allows applicants to know their status within minutes.
Paymyrent provides loan facility for the purpose of house rent payment. The company provides a loan from N100,000 to N2,500,000. However, the amount that can be actually borrowed largely depends on customer’s monthly salary. Approval takes less than 24 hours. After the company reviews customer’s bank statement, it gives an approval; upon the submission of required documents, the customer is credited in less than 48 hours.
Paystack helps Nigerian businesses accept payments online from users anywhere in the world. with MasterCard, Visa and Verve cards.
PayUp is a financial technology startup that focuses on delivering a lower-cost and more scalable alternative to the traditional banking system that comes with added convenience and new services for its customers (consumers or merchants alike). The company’s integrated card payment and POS system enable SMEs to securely accept card payments at the store or on the go. PayUp offers a free point-of-sale app that works with a mobile card reader which connects to a phone or tablet and transforms it into a card acceptance terminal.
PayWithCapture is powered by Access Bank Nigeria. This mobile app is designed to make online and offline payments in diverse ways through users’ bank accounts and debit and credit cards. The company offers an array of advantages, such as money transfers from any bank card, savings clubs, Titanium card, instant transfers to phone numbers, the opportunity to track expenses through PFM tool, and instant account opening.
Peach Payments provides payment solutions to online and mobile businesses, thus enabling them to accept payments from consumers across the globe – especially from those in the emerging markets.
Piggybank.ng is a platform that works directly with financial institutions with the aim of enabling users to save little amount of money periodically (daily, weekly or monthly) without thinking about it. The funds in user’s Piggybank.ng account is warehoused and monitored by the company’s partner bank, UBA Nigeria Plc. Piggybank.ng provides the saving technology. Besides, all the tools that users need to save their money are built into Piggybank.ng dashboard. Piggybank.ng automates the process of saving meagre amount daily, weekly or monthly; it also allows users to withdraw their funds for free on only set withdrawal dates, thereby making saving more possible for users by eliminating the temptation to withdraw.
QuickCheck is an app-based lending platform that uses technology to deliver financial services to individuals and small businesses.
REΛCH is an app that tracks income and spending to enable users to make intelligent money choices. With REΛCH, users get a breakdown of their spending each week. They can also get insights on how to spend and stretch money. More so, REΛCH equips users with a budget tool to keep them on track and help them achieve their financial goals.
ReadyCash is a mobile payment service designed to comply with the CBN’s regulatory framework on mobile payment services in Nigeria under the NON-BANK LED model. It enables end users (especially the unbanked) with GSM phones to operate virtual accounts (wallets) by leveraging on a large network of agents (the banks and individuals) for enrolments, cash deposit and withdrawals. In addition, end-users can make requests such as account enquiries, bill payments, funds transfer, purchases for goods, and services via their mobile phones. The ReadyCash system is pre-paid based. Agents, the primary actors of the solution, will need to fund their ReadyCash accounts prior to rendering services. End users are also required to fund their wallets at agent locations before transacting on their wallet.
Releaf aims to build trust between various stakeholders in agribusiness by allowing sellers to bid for active buyer contracts and sellers with mutual contacts to bid based on the buyer’s preference. Sellers register and indicate which commodities they want to sell, and they are presented with a list verified buyer contracts for those commodities. After that, they apply to fulfill them. Releaf verifies the seller and allows the buyer to decide if they would like to discuss the contract.
Remita is an e-payments and e-collections solution on a single multi-bank platform. Today, Remita is used by many individuals and public and private sector organizations that process over N500 billion worth of transactions on a monthly basis. Adopted by the CBN for the payment and collections of funds on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and used by all 22 commercial banks and over 400 micro finance banks, Remita has significantly assisted in revolutionizing the e-payment industry in Nigeria. Remita also comes with an optional payroll and HR solution for fully integrated processing.
RenMoney MFB Limited (formerly RenCredit) is a consumer finance organization with expertise in the provision of simple money solutions. RenMoney operates under the license a microfinance bank, the closest to a consumer finance banking license available in Nigeria. The company has a customer base of over 25,000 customers. Apart from being the first microfinance bank to launch cloud technology with minimal fixed asset investment in Nigeria, the company has a functional platform which guarantees and ensures an efficient and scalable operational system, with a promise of 24-hour disbursement to customer’s preferred account.
SimpleLink is an online payment solution that enables users to receive payment with a link. SimpleLink is a product of SimplePay Limited. SimpleLink is designed for social media merchants and offline merchants. It also has an escrow system in place to ensure that goods and services are delivered after payment is made. The company does a BVN verification for all merchants to prevent frauds.
Social Lender is a lending solution based on social reputation on mobile, online and social media platforms. Social Lender is designed to bridge the gap of immediate fund access for people with limited access to formal credit. Social Lender uses its own proprietary algorithm to perform a social audit of users on social media, online and other related platforms as well as giving social reputation score to each user. At Social Lender, loans are guaranteed by the user’s social profile and network, thus allowing users to then borrow from banks and other financial institutions based on their social reputation.
SpacePointe is a global retail technology company currently servicing the African and North American markets. In 2016, the company launched PointePay – a mobile point of service platform – into the Nigerian market. PointePay enables MSMEs to completely manage their businesses online and in-store, thus providing them with an end-to-end service for customers. With PointePay, MSMEs can showcase and sell their products online. They can also sell their products in-store using multiple types of payments.
StartCredits helps Nigerians access finance and save money by comparing loan providers and building proprietary credit risk models.
SureCredit is a voucher financing platform for employees of selected companies. Employees can get a voucher to purchase an asset or service from several merchants in Nigeria. They can also pay later in installment from their salaries. At SureCredit, employees of selected companies are pre-approved for vouchers that can be used to purchase holiday trips, expensive home appliances, gadgets, electronics, medication, luxury goods, consumer goods or other essentials. The value borrowed will be deducted from their salaries over a specified period.
The Advancer is an alternative lending platform that provides collateral free credit solutions to Nigerian salary earners. This company helps users to secure assured advances or request project financing in minutes. Apart from offering an efficient, speedy, dependable loaning service entirely online, The Advancer charges a flat rate of 7.5% monthly interest irrespective of how much customers borrow. There are no additional or hidden fees, and The Advancer does not charge any penalties for late payments or delayed salaries.
VANSO is a financial technology provider focused on delivering innovative solutions in Africa. Through its proprietary payments (MIMO) and banking and messaging (VCP) platforms, the company delivers secure, world class solutions for its clients. Leveraging on its deep integration with Telecom and Banking infrastructure, VANSO can deploy mobile banking solutions rapidly with technical precision. The company’s strong authentication solutions have been deployed by over 10,000 companies in over 100 countries, an innovation that has secured millions of transactions every day.
VoguePay is an online payment processor that offers buyers and sellers a secure and easy-to-use means of transacting business online. Owned and managed by Vogue Web Solution, VoguePay allows site owners to receive payments for their goods and services on their website without any setup fee.
VTNetwork allows individuals to transfer and receive money both locally through Western Union and digitally using their phones. The firm also helps users to pay international/local merchants, send gift cards, and do much more. VCASH is fully licensed by the CBN to deploy mobile payment service in Nigeria.
Wallet.ng provides access to financial products through phone numbers. With a wallet account, users can make payments for utility bills, recharge, send money anyone in Nigeria with just a phone number or directly into their bank account and make cardless ATM withdrawals. Wallet.ng also allows individuals to accept payments online from local and international cards by giving users a personalized URL
Zedvance Limited is a consumer finance company that provides cash loans to individuals and groups. In partnership with retailers across Lagos, this company also offers POS finance for consumer goods and appliances.
Note: Presented list is not meant to be exhaustive. More companies can be found on MEDICI, FinTech’s Global Knowledge Network. If you’d like to suggest a company, feel free to send a note to Elena Mesropyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.