By Ndesanjo Macha
Since the launch of M-Pesa in 2007, Afrika has become the region to watch when it comes to financial technology. Afrikan entrepreneurs and innovators are constantly coming up with startup ideas to promote financial inclusion.
The World Bank Global Findex shows that 60% of the population in Afrika don’t have a bank account.
Since 2017, fintech in Afrika has grown by 60%. The funding of Fintech startups in 2019 alone reached $460 million. Afrika is reported to be the global leader when it comes to the use of mobile money. For instance, the reach of the mobile money sector in West Afrika is 13 times wider than local banks. In many Afrikan countries, fintech startups are challenging and changing the banking sector.
With these facts in mind, this article will highlight 5 Fintech startups to watch in Afrika.
Barely a year old, Sampay is one of the best Zambian Fintech startups to watch. The startup provides online and mobile payment transactions in Zambia. With Sampay, you can send money to Zambia from all over the world, pay water bills, electricity bills, TV bills, and salaries from the app. You can also add Sampay to your website to receive payment online.
Samagri is Sampay’s product aimed at empowering farmers with funding and loans. Farmers face many financial challenges such as the absence of a credit registry that includes unbanked farmers. The startup addresses this obstacle through what it calls a “Simple Inclusion Model.”
Other products in the pipeline are Samenergy, Samphone, Sameducate, Samjobs, Sammed, and Saminsure.
Cryptofully is a Nigerian startup that was launched in 2020 to facilitate money transfer to any Nigerian bank account using Bitcoin. You can also send airtime and pay bills using the app. While sending money to Africa with Money Transfer Organisations (MTO) attracts fees, Cryptofully does not charge any fees on transfers.
As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies gain popularity in the region, the startup intends to make crypto-based money transfer the future of remittances to Africa and within Afrika.
Cryptofully is a cryptocurrency exchange and trading platform as well. The founders hope to push cryptocurrency transactions, investment, and trading into the mainstream in Nigeria and later in other Afrikan countries.
Considering itself, “a neobank for Africans anywhere in the world,” Eversend is a Ugandan multi-currency e-wallet that can be used to exchange, spend and send money to a mobile wallet or Eversend wallet. Sending money to Eversend's wallet is completely free. Furthermore, its Android and iOS app has a virtual card, which allows users to shop online in USD.
The startup was started by Ugandan entrepreneur Stone Atwine following money transfer problems he experienced while sending remittances to his grandmother in Uganda from abroad.
Like many other young professionals, I moved around Africa for job opportunities. A few years ago I worked in multiple African countries. But I had a problem. Every month, I sent part of my salary home to my grandma who lives on a farm with 8 grandchildren. First, Western Union took 15–20% as commission. Then my grandma needed to leave the grandchildren home and take a one-hour bus ride to collect the money. Then hog all that cashback home on a crowded bus.
Eversend raised over $1 million through crowdfunding early this year.
Launched in October, 2020, SeamPay is a Nigerian Fintech startup that intends to help the unbanked and underbanked in Afrika to access the digital economy. It is “the digital wallet that frees your money.”
The startup provides a mobile wallet with a fast and reliable transaction method as well as money transfers without fees or any hidden charges. At the moment, SeamPay is fully operational in Nigeria, but will later expand to the rest of Afrika. The first week of its launch saw 4,000 members joining the platform.
SeamPay is self-funded by two brothers, Abubaka Mohammed and Alhassan Mohammed.
BitLipa is a Kenyan peer-to-peer money transfer startup, which was launched in April 2020. BitLipa users all over the world can send money to Africa for free using Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, and Aerternity.
Beneficiaries can receive funds in a local currency or cryptocurrency. Businesses are also able to receive payments in Bitcoin and then convert it to their chosen currency. Besides money transfer, BitLipa users can trade in crypto assets with each other.
The fintech space in Africa is one of the most promising entrepreneurship spaces on the continent. These startups and others will redefine the future of the financial sector in Africa with cashless transactions, cryptocurrency remittances, mobile wallets, currency exchange, virtual cards, crypto trading and investment, multi-currency wallets, free money transfers, etc.
These services and products will contribute to financial inclusion and empowerment in the region.