Spotlight MEA: Sending Hard-Earned Money Across Africa and Beyond

https://thefintechtimes.com/spotlight-mea-sending-hard-earned-money-across-africa-and-beyond/
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Migration across Africa is well-documented, but while the custom of working away from home is accepted, new banking services are striving to change the way remittances are sent home. 

Sayjil Magan, the Managing Director from South-African headquartered Hello Paisa heads just one of these fast-growing digital financial services.

Sayjil Magan is the Managing Director from South-African headquartered Hello Paisa

Sayjil Magan is the Managing Director from South-African headquartered Hello Paisa

Sayjil Magan, the Managing Director from South-African headquartered Hello Paisa IMAGE SOURCE PROVIDED

Magan graduated from the University of Pretoria, earning his Bachelor of Commerce Degree in financial management in 2007, a Diploma in Insolvency Law and Practice in 2008 and his Bachelor of Law Degree in 2009.

Previously, Magan practised as a mergers and acquisitions attorney at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, as well as ENSafrica for a combined period of 7 years. Since joining Hello Paisa in 2016, Sayjil has championed Hello Paisa’s mission to create game-changing integrated consumer and business services, which are low cost, easily accessible and amazingly simple to use with technology at the very core, with a specific focus on underserved communities. By 2019, Sayjil and his team had launched South Africa’s latest digital retail bank offering, aiming to serve the unbanked. Currently, the Managing Director at Hello Paisa, Sayjil manages the international money remittance, banking, as well as goods-based remittance products.

For our global audience, can you explain what the digital and fintech landscape across the African continent currently looks like? How does this alter in South Africa?

My experience in the fintech arena has shed light on the shear enablement that fintech players such as us have brought to the man on the street and small business owners. With the use of simple, easy to use technology, we at Hello Paisa have made financial inclusion a reality for those previously unserved.

Fintech startups such as our self have become a trend in Africa as we fill a gap that local legacy financial institutions have left open in the financial sector. Whilst local banks focus on building the wealth for citizens who have money to spare, there is an untapped market of people who have been excluded from receiving basic financial services due to sometimes impossible regulatory requirements, people not being tech-savvy enough or inherent past habits of dealing in cash only.

Just like the rest of Africa, South Africa too has migrant workers and marginalised communities that have been overlooked. If anything, immigrants from our neighbouring African countries come to South Africa to work in hope of a better future and to support their loved ones back home. As a South African fintech, we have made it our priority to address the direst financial needs of the marginalized by ensuring that we make financial services accessible, cost-effective and easy to use.

How have you developed your subject matter expertise and helped to share it across South Africa?

In 2014, Hello Paisa launched a person to person, legal, secure, affordable and accessible app-based international money remittance product to address the problem of illegal, expensive, insecure and lengthy processes that migrants were previously subjected to when remitting money to their loves ones back home. Hello Paisa, currently allows registered users to remit money to over 54 countries.

By lobbying financial regulators, using technology and partnering with the world’s most reputable partners, we have managed to drive the cost of international remittance down and provide a legal and low-cost remittance platform which is accessible to all. All users have to do is register and provide the details of their chosen recipient, then through the mobile app, Hello Store, Hello Paisa call centre or the free USSD string they create a remittance transaction which can be settled by EFT, Cash or Card at over 8000 retailers nationwide.

What are future trends and predictions you see happening in the region? And specifically, with your company?

From a South African perspective, we foresee:

  1. An increase in online banking and a reduction in customers visiting physical bank branches.
  2. Payment innovations which will include mobile payments, contactless payments, mobile wallets. With an increase in Covid-19, customers are moving towards cashless payments.

Hello Paisa, launched our digital banking product in 2019 to provide a fully interoperable bank account to marginalized communities living in South Africa. This product clearly differentiates itself from others in the market by the mere fact of its accessibility and affordability. The Hello Paisa digital banking product can be taken to the doorstep of the previously unserved. Within 20 minutes a customer could be in possession of a bank account together a debit card to allow him to transact. We found that for most unserved people the necessity of walking into a banking institution was a daunting task. Furthermore, financial services were seen to be for the wealthy and a luxury which was unaffordable to the majority. We at Hello Paisa have changed this tainted view by offering free bank accounts to our customers who are now able to take the leap towards cashless payments, instant international money transfers and certainty when it comes to their financial safety.

We at Hello Paisa have always been at the forefront of cutting-edge technology which addresses simple everyday problems faced by people. Our innovation has also come in the form of first of its kind partnerships to further the reach of our services into Africa. We will continue to stay close to the needs of our customer and leverage on strategic partnerships to bring our services in a form which is cost-effective and accessible.

Any advice or recommendations you would give to other future fintech entrepreneurs based in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region? Particularly with respect to fintech and the wider digital sector?

Always remain customer-centric when offering products and services. Understand customer struggles and how you can provide value in the simplest form.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

https://thefintechtimes.com/spotlight-mea-sending-hard-earned-money-across-africa-and-beyond/