Key Fintech Highlights From Africa in August

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The African continent had several announcements in the fintech space this past August. For instance, African startups raised almost $350 million during the first quarter of this year, which is a 37% increase compared to last year of $256 million. The following were the top countries, which combined earned 85% of investments: South Africa ($112 million), Nigeria ($74 million), Kenya ($62 million) and Egypt ($51 million). Besides just funding announcements, there were other noticeable partnerships and collaborations. Here were some of those key news headlines from August 2020 across Africa. 

The African continent had several announcements in the fintech space this past August by Richie Santosdiaz for The FinTech Times

The African continent had several announcements in the fintech space this past August by Richie Santosdiaz for The FinTech Times

The African continent had several announcements in the fintech space this past August IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Ecobank had winners from its fintech challenge and it launched a new sandbox

The Ecobank Group, headquartered in Lome, Togo, employs over 14,800 people and serves more than 23 million customers in the consumer, commercial and corporate banking sectors across 33 African countries. Launched in 2017, the Ecobank Fintech Challenge just had its 2020 edition where Nokwary Technologies edged out the rest of the finalists to emerge winner of Ecobank’s Fintech Challenge. The first and second runner up spots were taken by Ukheshe Payment and Solutions Growth Factor Technologies respectively. The 1st to 3rd place winners will receive cash prizes worth $10,000, $7,000 and $5,000 respectively. In addition, after a successful pilot run with select fintechs earlier this year, the Pan-African Banking Sandbox of Ecobank Group is now live and accessible, on request, to the African Fintech community. The Sandbox allows fintechs to access Ecobank’s Application Programming Interface (APIs) for the development of innovative solutions.

The Group Executive, Technology and Operations of Ecobank, Mr. Eddy Ogbogu, said, “As the Pan-African bank, Ecobank is committed to the growth of  the Pan-African Fintech Ecosystem. This Sandbox is designed to facilitate this objective. Innovative fintechs, start-ups, product developers and technology partners are invited  to leverage the platform to actualise their pan-African dreams.”

MarketForce from Kenya selected for Y Combinator and gets $150,000

MarketForce enables consumer brands to optimise how they deliver essential goods and services to retailers and consumers through narrowing the information gap in last-mile distribution while maximising efficiency across the sales and distribution value chain. It has now secured an extra US$150,000 in funding from Y Combinator, as well as launching a new business line, MarketForce Troops, which enables FMCGs and financial service providers to grow their retail distribution channels across Africa; earlier this year they also raised $350,000 in funding from the ViKtoria Business Angels Network (VBAN), EchoVC Partners, P1 Ventures, and Ventures Platform.

MoneyGram partners with MFS Africa

MoneyGram International, Inc.,  a global leader in cross-border P2P payments and money transfers, announced four mobile wallet and fintech partnerships that give the Company access to mobile wallets in 28 markets in Africa, creating the largest footprint in the industry. As mobile money adoption rapidly grows in Africa, these new partnerships with Airtel, Thunes, InTouch and MFS Africa will help drive strong digital growth as the Company continues to execute its customer-centric digital transformation. This was also mentioned in our recent bi-weekly roundup.

Ukheshe from South Africa launches prepaid payments platform

Ukheshe Technologies launched it’s Third-Party Processing Services in South Africa. The payments platform achieved this through a partnership with Nedbank and MasterCard. The announcement by the fintech startup gives businesses access to prepaid and virtual cards, normally reserved for large enterprises. The company will use MasterCard processing to deliver speed, convenience, and flexibility. The partnership willl ensure pre-paid products are processed through MasterCard’s platform representing world-class processing solutions that offer maximum security. Businesses are in a position to expand their payment portfolios across multiple channels at minimal investment.

Zazu from Zambia launches an African-wide fintech network

Zazu started as a place to allow farmers with extra produce to connect with new markets. Eventually it pivoted into the digital banking space in 2017. Its mobile wallet allows customers – even those without a bank account – to send, receive, pay and save money digitally.

The startup raised $1.4 million in funding late last year and now announced the launch of Union54, a member-owned association of fintechs across Africa. Zazu has built a digital banking app connected to a debit card, with the startup’s contribution to Union54 being the product. Members will operate the product and issue Union54 debit cards in their respective markets.

YC-backed Thndr from Egypt gears up for launch after gettings its brokerage licence 

Besides Kenya’s MarketForce, Thndr from Egypt also was part of the same Y Combinator cohort, having secured $150,000 in funding and access to high-level support and mentorship. The company was co-founded by former Uber Egypt general manager Ahmad Hammouda. Thundr has developed an investment platform that makes it easy to invest in stocks, bonds, and funds, completely commission-free, claiming to solve Egypt and the region’s outdated and time-consuming processes when it comes to opening, funding and managing investment accounts.

South African Fintech GWC Deal with Calibri Holdings

Gemini Worldwide Consultant, a leading digital transformation consultancy is pleased to announce it has entered into a multimillion-dollar letter of intent with Calibri Holdings of South Africa, a technology company, to explore bringing data analytics and financial technologies to South Africa. Calibri, a technology company, founded by Yaseen Mansoor, estimates that within the population of 58 million South Africans, up to 11 million are unbanked or underbanked. As a BRICS nation, South Africa is a frontier market that GWC considers a strategic fit due to its unique IP gleaned from the Indonesian market. Further, the opportunity to develop SA based software will hope to grow the local economy and serve a point of contact for expansion into the rest of the African continent.

Mipango Fintech joins NVIDIA Inception

Empowering the mass market in Tanzania, Mipango operates in Swahili, providing financial education in a language that local citizens understand for bigger impact. As an Inception member, Mipango Fintech will build its capacity in Al training using self-paced online courses in AI, data science, and accelerated computing. The company also expects to qualify for promotions on a wide range of hardware products.

According to Lilian Makoi, co-founder of Mipango Fintech, “This is a great opportunity for our brand! We will now be part of this world-renowned program just a few weeks after the launch of the Mipango app. We look forward to the platform capabilities and technology we will access as we upgrade Mipango to a global standard application.”

Naijacrypto becoming Nigeria’s all in one exchange

Naijacrypto is becoming Nigeria’s crypto exchange and continues to make milestones in the fintech market with an aim towards introducing novel blockchain solutions. Following a key partnership with innovative SME lender innovative SME lender Monify, the company has introduced an instant deposit feature, listed new currency pairs, formally unveiled its crypto debit-card, launched an affiliate program to provide opportunities for businesses and individuals in the blockchain space, as well as opened the doorway for entrepreneurs to launch their projects by crowdfunding via IEOs.

Standard Bank in South Africa taking a stake in TradeSafe

The Fintech Times Editor Claire Woffenden, recently summarised that Standard Bank has acquired a 35 per cent stake in TradeSafe, a South African fintech company. Standard Bank is adding two non-executive directors to the board as part of the investment and will also manage the admin of TradeSafe’s escrow accounts.

PayDunya – Potentially Africa’s future Paypal? 

Present in Ivory Coast, Benin and Senegal, the startup PayDunya aims to enter Mali and Burkina Faso by the end of the year. In addition, in spite of the health context which has disrupted PayDunya’s development prospects, the startup aims to be present in about twenty countries in the medium term, including in the English-speaking regions of Africa as reported by Born2invest.

PayDunya was launched in 2015 by Youma Fall (Senegal), Christian Palouki (Togo), Honoré Hounwanou (Ivory Coast) and Aziz Yerima (Benin), the idea of creating this fintech company was born on the benches of the university. The same source also highlighted the company’s remarkable success 5 years later. The fintech company, with its headquarters in Dakar, Senegal, employs 54 employees of about ten different nationalities and recorded a turnover of almost $3 million last year.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

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