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Introducing Austin’s Five Forces Model for Analysing Sustainable Development



The Ordinance of a Digital Africa



The Need For A DeFi Ecosystem In Africa




Unlocking digital transformation to power inclusive financial services in Nigeria


Digital Transformation in Financial Services in Zimbabwe, are we there yet?



How is API Driven Innovation Improving the Banking Experience?



Financial Services for Gig Workers



How important is the role of a Leader in Today’s World?



IT Automation & Leadership


Welcome to the Summer edition of

DBA 2021! Welcome to the latest edition of Digital Banker

Along with Abigail Komu who discusses financial

Africa, where we bring you the latest news in

services and how it works for those in the gig

Africa’s digital journey. As lockdowns start to


become more relaxed and the focus switches to vaccines, one thing is for sure, banking will never

Turn to page 30 to find an in-depth piece from Dayo

be the same again and the steps taken by the

Ademola CEO of Branch International discussing

banking community during the pandemic are

how digital finance could be the key to unlocking

here to stay.

financial inclusion in Nigeria.

In this edition we shine a light on decentralized

We enjoy bringing the latest activity from within

Finance and take a look at exactly what this new

the African Digital Banking community to our

buzz phrase brings to the world of digital finance.

offline and online readership. We strive to capture the breaking news about Africa’s digital economy,

As always, this edition is packed with insightful

digital finance events and digital banking game

opinion pieces from those within the field of

changers from prominent leaders in the industry

digital finance. Gerald Munyaradzi Nyakwawa,

and public viewpoints with an intention to serve a

Chief Association Executive of the Digital Finance

holistic outlook.

Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe asks “Are we there yet?” when discussing the digital

Send us your thoughts on how we can continue to

transformation in financial services in Zimbabwe.

improve and what you’d like to see in the future.



Founder, CWG Plc and Entrepreneur in Residence, Ausso Leadership Academy


Head, Agency Banking Business, Growth & Operations Management Cititrust Financial Services Plc. Nigeria


Managing Director Branch International

GERALD MUNYARADZI NYAKWAWA Chief Association Executive Digital Finance Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe


Digital Transformation Executive


Digital and Financial Inclusion Consultant


MSc Finance & Banking | Civil Servant | Brand Founder & Creative Manager | Global and Strategic Thinker


Lead, Application development Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems PLC

Editor: Anthony Bempong Executive Editor: Noel Morrison Deputy Editor: Henry Scott Art Director: Pritesh Patel Layout Designer Abdhesh Kumar Jha Chief Sub: Kwabena Mensah Bonsu Head of Online Development: Lee-Anne Doughlin Online Development: Gerald Hutchfull, Paulette Davidson Subscription Manager: Stephen Rock Marketing Manager: Siobhan Copland Marketing Assistant Jason Hall Circulation manager: Nathan Asare Head of Sales: Michael Scott Production Editor: Rebecca Mcglynn Business Development: James Walters, Lloyd Quansah, Paul Da Associate Producer: Dean Kirby Head of Accounts: Wayne Sykes Publisher: Percival Marshall ISSN 2752-4485 Images by All information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the proprietors believe to be correct, however no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication can be reproduced without prior consent from the publisher.






he sustainability challenge is becoming clearer. Being a Consultant at the

Sustainable Development Goals, Africa Centre (SDGCA) in Rwanda and on the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has exposed me to the global framework for economic growth that protects the fundamental pillars of humanity and the planet. The SDGs are about People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace – and about driving development in an inclusive way that leaves no one behind. These tenets were further reinforced through my interview with Professor Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate, and former Chief Economist at the World Bank.

Austins interview with Professor Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate, and former Chief Economist at the World Bank

I see Five Forces driving

Below are the Five Forces and how

opportunities in the society.

they impact sustainability:

They may include regulation,

Organisations - providing jobs

sustainable growth as

for the population for shared

follows – Organisations,


Population, Enablers, Infrastructure, and

Population – a large social

the Socio-Political

group subject to the same

Environment. I have

political authority and dominant

codified below, the

cultural expectations. This is the

relation between these

source of skilled labour to the

forces in the in a model

organisation and who in turn

which I call the Austin’s

contribute to the welfare

Five Forces Model for

of society

analysing Sustainable Development.

Enablers – institutions and mechanisms necessary for supporting efficient and equitable pursuance of

Austin Okere Founder Organisation: CWG Plc and Ausso Leadership Academy

education, healthcare, and technology among others Infrastructure – the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. They include housing, ports, roads, power, and communication Social-Pollical Environment - the central values of society, politics, culture and public opinion, as well as the assurance of security and the adherence to rule of law that governs the society

These forces and their interplay are represented in the schematic below:

Austin’s Five Forces model for analysing sustainable development 11


ORGANISATIONS At the heart of providing jobs is the

accounts for 72 percent of GDP

are a key indicator of the overall

organisation, public, private, start-

with monetary flows from labour

performance of an economy.

ups and non-governmental.

income, capital income, taxes,

A commonly held truism is that government alone cannot provide all jobs and is not big enough to shoulder the entire economy.

investment in capital assets, and payments to suppliers. It is this crucial force that needs to be enabled to unleash economic

In Nigeria, while there are only about 161 companies listed on the Stock Exchange, the total number of MSMEs as of 2019 stood at 41.5m


according to the National Bureau

terms, government spending

In many economies, 80% of the

of jobs that will be created if each

at 5.7% of GDP (2019) means

jobs are provided by entrepreneurs.

of these businesses is empowered

non-government economic

They are responsible for most of

to employ just only one additional

activity accounts for almost all of

the advances in new products and


GDP (about 95%). Among OECD

processes, provide most of the

economies, business activity

employment opportunities and

Take Nigeria for example, in real

of statistics. Just imagine the scale

At the 2014 WEF annual meeting of the new champions in Tianjin, China- (L-R) N Chandrasekaran, CEO Tata Consulting Services, Austin Okere, Founder CWG Plc, Rich Lesser, CEO Boston Consulting Services 12


ENABLERS Enablers are institutions and mechanisms which remove economic blockages and open economic arteries. Anything that enhances economic activity to a community will culminate in an economic driver for the society. Regulators are one of the most critical enablers of a society. Regulators, however, tend to be either a source of support or a headwind against progress. The regulator should not constrict the pursuit of opportunity nor act in a manner to entrench protectionism. While Nigeria has become one of the world’s fastest-growing technology markets, attracting investments of over $216m in the

POPULATION A developing society is based on the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any member, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved. While society in the past was split between the haves and have nots, society today is split more into those who are included and those left behind. This inequality is more significant in emerging markets, where 80% of the world reside. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is 32.6%, while the youth unemployment rate (15-24 years) in 2020 was 58.3%. Young people who cannot find jobs still need to eat. With few

first quarter of 2021 alone, there is a palpable apprehension among technology start-ups, after a series of regulatory headwinds from different government bodies. These include the Central bank of Nigeria’s ban on cryptocurrency trading and the Security and Exchanges Commission’s clampdown on technology platforms for purchasing shares in foreign companies outside the Commission’s regulatory purview

legitimate options, illegal means become attractive.

and registration.

Research has shown that youth unemployment increases all sorts of

Until more people think they

crime. It is estimated that by 2050, Africa’s population will double, reaching 2.5b people – just about the current combined population of India and China. Without a credible plan towards sustainable

can successfully start businesses and prosper, we will not have enough jobs in the economy. Other

employment, this could be a ticking bomb.

significant enablers are health

What is more worrisome is that while the population grew at a rate of

for jobs, the education system

2.6%, the GDP growth rate was lower at 2.2% in 2019 according to the

needs to be set up so that people

and education. On the supply side

World Bank. 13


leaving, either at the secondary or university level have employable skills. The most significant enabler in modern times is the Technology Platform. These Platforms provide a means of significantly extending services at low-cost efficiencies, and as a result draw many people into the consumption pool, while also creating many jobs along the value chain which would otherwise simply not exist. Technology Platforms have heralded an era of unprecedented inclusiveness. Nigerian legislators are considering a social media bill to regulate internet conversations...

Austins interview with Professor Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate, and former Chief Economist at the World Bank in Washington DC. 14


For instance, MPESA the popular payment system had more than 60% of Kenya’s 33 million mobile users and in 2015 transacted $28m on her platform. Similar applications have metamorphosed across Africa, and Mobile Money services are today generating 6.7% of Africa’s GDP. Platforms have made it possible to reach far more than our traditional schools can cater to, by leveraging Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Research and Markets forecast that e-learning will grow to $325 Billion by 2025 from $107b in 2015. The Covid-19 pandemic has severely tested many sovereign health systems, and many have been found significantly wanting. without a significant network of

INFRASTRUCTURE Infrastructure speaks to facilities needed for the operation of a society, and includes power, ports, transportation, communication, housing, and not least, broadband to homes and offices. This has now become imperative due to the increase in digital transformation,

rail or a functional underground transport system in 2050?

SOCIO-POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT Nothing impacts sustainable

The UK’s Underground Tube

growth as much as a stable socio-

system moves 1.35b people

political environment. it enables

annually and has been operating for

the attraction of capital for rapid

about 150 years. African Countries

economic development. The rule of

such as Ethiopia and Kenya are

law is paramount for a stable polity.

making strident advances in rail

Any society that does not abide


by some code of conduct whether in public or private matters tends

largely driven by the Covid-19

The biggest infrastructure

pandemic. A lack of these will

drawback, however, has been

severely constrict the smooth

electricity. Almost half of the

production and delivery of goods

people living in Sub-Saharan

Produced, or built, capital is what

and services.

Africa do not have access to

many of us think of when we think

electricity. The attendant impact

of capital: the sum of machinery,

on entrepreneurship can only be

equipment, and structures

imagined. If Africa were able to

(including infrastructure) and

achieve in power what she has

urban land. If one simply adds up

achieved in telecoms the impact on

the current value of a country’s

sustainable development would be

natural resources and produced,


or built, capital, there’s no way

By 2050, the infrastructure needed for the 2.5b Africans will be unprecedented in the history of humankind; 700m housing units, 300k schools, and 100k health centres. Can you imagine Africa

to become chaotic, and virtually ungovernable.



that can account for that country’s level of income. The rest is the result of “intangible” factors such as the trust among people in a society, an efficient judicial system, clear property rights and effective government. All these intangible capital also boosts the productivity of labour and results in higher total wealth. In fact, the World Bank finds,

and punctual. In poorer countries,

sustainable development the world

“Human capital and the value of

a small minority follow these basic

over. It has a disproportionate,

institutions (as measured by rule of

principles in their daily lives.

destructive impact on the poor and

law) constitute the largest share of wealth in virtually all countries.” According to the World Bank’s

A society is not poor because they lack natural resources or because

most vulnerable, but it is also quite simply bad for business.”

nature is cruel to them, but rather

The sustainable development of

because they lack the right attitude.

any society depends on where they

Conscience is usually thrown out,

lie on the spectrum of these critical

accounts for 36%.

and justice is on sale to the highest

five forces.

The blind application of the law

market society.

regression analyses, the rule of law explains 57% of countries’ intangible capital while education

without regard to status, tribe or creed is what enshrines deterrence. It is the pursuit of deterrence that drives developed countries from sparing any high-ranking members of the society who fall foul of the law, not least their leaders, who are held to a higher account. Through rampant corruption and failing school systems, many lowincome countries are destroying their intangible capital and ensuring that their people will be

bidder; this is what is known as a

Russian American writer and philosopher, Ayn Rand succinctly

Austin Okere is the Founder of

sums it up as follows:

CWG Plc and the Ausso Leadership

“When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours - When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but

poorer in the future.

protect them against you - When you

When we analyse the conduct of

honesty becoming a self-sacrifice -

the people from rich and developed

You may know that your society is

countries, we observed that a


majority abide by the following principles of life: ethics, integrity, responsibility, the respect of most citizens for the rule of law, pride in their work, the effort to save and invest, and the will to be productive 16

Where does your society lie?

see corruption being rewarded and

According to Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,“Corruption represents a major threat to the rule of law and

Academy. He has an MBA from IESE Business School, and over 25 years entrepreneurial experience. Currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Columbia Business School, New York, he has also been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Global Business Practices Council of the AACSB, and the Advisory Board of the Global Business School Network in Washington in recognition of his contribution to the development of business education and knowledge transfer in Africa. Austin is on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council and has served as a Consultant to the Sustainable Development Goals, African Center (SDGAC) in Rwanda.

Are you a financial services leader creating value in the economy, society, and environment? Are you an exceptional professional driving unparalleled performance and building sustainable institutions? Are you an innovator shaping the financial system?

Here is your opportunity to be recognized for your accomplishments! The 2021 Angaza Awards call for entries opens on 1st August and closes on 30th October 2021. Entries from across Africa are welcome from women excelling in the following financial services sub-sectors: Banking Co-Operatives and SACCOs Development Finance Institutions FinTechs Fund Management & Investment Banking Insurance Microfinance Public Sector Finance Private Equity Visit to learn more about this opportunity to build your profile and celebrate your achievements. #AngazaAwards #AfricaWomenInFinance FOLLOW US @AngazaAwards

“The Angaza awards put a spotlight on my professional achievements for the first time; and concurrently brought attention to NCBA Bank, but most importantly raised the profile of female bankers in Rwanda. My favourite quote from the media: ‘We thought there was only one female banker in Rwanda, until Angaza’.” Lina M. Higiro Chief Executive Officer, NCBA Bank Rwanda PLC “Angaza Award 2020 has built my credibility in the international space and validated my outstanding position back home. Highlighting my achievements made me stand out as a solid banking and finance professional among my peers.” Millicent Omukaga Advisor on Women Empowerment and Financial Inclusion, African Development Bank Group, Abidjan







rior to the mechanics of the digital system in Africa, we experienced an

analog mode of operation in the banking system where we could only run transactions inside the

Olusegun Felix Esan Head, Agency Banking Business, Growth & Operations Management Cititrust Financial Services Plc. Nigeria. +2348035210500

banking hall where our accounts domiciled and this took a lot of

Now, think about the import of this in Africa that is predicted to have over one million devices in a few years; this simply means that there will always

and creativity. Many years, you

be a vulnerable device

hours out of our daily lives. Cash

were likely to get a job and become

available to be attacked. I believe

posting to other countries takes

financially independent within

this has also helped us ramp up

longer days to mature. The trade

a few years after graduation.

software development such as

system also experiences an ugly

This isn’t the case for young

machine learning and artificial

trend where the marketers have to

Africans right now – a group

intelligence in dealing with the

travel with cash from one town to

that constitutes about 58 percent

shameful problem of corruption

another and thereby attract robbers

of the population in Africa. The

and introduction of e-voting in

who rob them of their cash and

population of Africa has grown

election processes and other vices.

valuables. But now, bank accounts

exponentially and with it has come

are agnostic of locations where they

increased competition for jobs.

were opened.

To make up for this, more young

The past two decades, which was the gradual invention of digital banking operations such as the supply and installation of Automated Teller Machines to their respective banks and the configuration of ATM cards which bring seamless transactions and relief to all in Africa. A decade ago, was the incorporation of a cashless policy society with POS flag off, Agency Banking, USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), Internet Banking, Mobile Money Operation and Web Pay Services. These domains substantially reduced the banking stress and increased transactions operation across Africa. These digital products and services have increasingly boasted the economy from 14% to 78%, reducing crime rate, fraud and money laundering. More innovation forces and reativity have led to more growth and opportunities,which in turn open the door to more innovations

people are starting businesses and embracing creative career choices fueled by the rapid penetration of the Internet and digital technology. These two factors have introduced new dimensions to how we do business and make money. Today, we have smartphones that can allow us to speak with our friends in myriad ways, including over social media, instant messaging apps, email, audio and video calls. All these new developments have impacted how we relate as humans, they have also influenced banking and of course redesign the windows of job opportunity in Africa.

The impact of Artificial Intelligence continues to be felt across ndustries substantially in marketing and sales, logistics as well as supply chain management and manufacturing. AI has the potential to create trillions of dollars of value across the economy if business leaders in Africa work to understand what it can and cannot do. However, a number of studies have argued that AI and robotics will take over 50 percent of human jobs in the next 30 years, but will expose human to more newly creative mechanizes works to do in either agriculture, crafting and artisans’ jobs which would also attract AI and thereby create more technology advanced

So, now we have a generation

jobs opportunities. The research

of entrepreneurial and creative

sensitivity is due to the exponential

Africans, a generation accustomed

advancements in robotics, quantum

to living through mobile, software

computing and AI. Restrictions

and digital technology which in

on movement and reduction in

turn have revolutionizes every

the handling of physical cash

industry known to man. Now

because of Covid-19 pandemic

Cybersecurity – Cyber threats

caused mobile money transaction

are real. A

volumes in sub-Saharan Africa

report states that a cyberattack

to reach $490bn in 2020 – Visa

occurs every 36 seconds.

report. Digital innovation and 19


technological advances are

access to funds, no access to bricks

monthly, quarterly or annually.

bringing exciting opportunities

and mortar banks, no access to

Upon subscription, they are

for financial inclusion to the

loans and benefits. Agency banking

channeled to the Clinics and

fore. Technology is now a tool

is all about financial inclusiveness

Health Centers closest to them

to leapfrog over old processes,

under an enabling environment

for medical checkup, test, drugs

systems and protocols for the

and thereby contributing to the

administered and treatment.

benefit of everyday consumers.

economic growth of the nation.

Digital marketing has greatly

Moreover, before the advent or

Agency Banking is an innovative

advanced the emancipation of the

insurgence of Covid–19 pandemics,

solution borne out of digital

Entrepreneurs and startups on a

which vehemently awakes all of us

proportion for customers and other

daily basis. Entrepreneurship is

and teaches to the conclusion that

stakeholders including SMEs. It is

inherently risky such that business

we must all go digital across board,

to bridge the financial inclusion gap

owners must possess the ability

forces us to shift our behaviors

by empowering the underserved

to mitigate company specific risks

and adopt more technology to

individuals and businesses in

while simultaneously bringing a

assist our day-to-day lives in

emerging and frontier markets with

product or service to market at a

all aspects, Africans believe and

a range of financial services such as

price point that meets consumer

practice the linear chain of home

but not limited to – cash transfer,

demand levels. Digital marketing

to office as employees carry out

cash deposit, cash withdrawal, bill

has therefore leveraged a window

their job roles on daily basis in

payment, airtime vending, data

to showcase these products to

the office. Now, digitalisation

subscription, satellite subscription.

prospect markets. Digital and

has broadened our knowledge

It exposes SMEs to various finance

technology have drastically

such that 72% of the corporate

opportunities that they could access

increased job / wealth creation

world work from home with an

and utilize to foster the continued

in every sector of profession.

inestimable height of productivity,

growth of their businesses, while

We can shop online with easy

virtual meetings can be held with

optimising the sustenance of their

payment mode, we can apply for

different online platforms. Post

business operations in contributing

admission online, we can study

covid has given birth to more

to national development. The

online and acquire certification,

digital products and offerings

product acts as the financial

we can do interviews online, we

such as card less transactions,

access lifeline for individuals and

can pay our bills online and so on.

thumbprint transactions, eye lens

communities in otherwise hard

Conclusively, is the introduction

contact transactions alongside QR

to reach towns and villages, the

of digital currency which will

scan transactions mechanism, all

unbanked or underbanked areas,

deepen financial inclusion in Africa.

these as a result of the advanced

to enable them access and manage

Most central banks had indicated

tech system and innovation.

their money more efficiently and

keen interests in developing their

Talking more on POS / Agency

productively. This also serves

digital currencies in response

Banking System – this has become

as means of showcasing other

to the threats and limitations

a much bee in the air with a lot

deliverables a particular company

of cryptocurrency including

of tech giants in operation. If

has within her subsidiaries for

poor regulation, price volatility

you understand the market, the

the agents and their customers

and facilitating illicit financial

MSMEs, empowerment via loans

to patronise. Agency Banking

transactions. Virtual currencies

to fund business and the startups,

enhances the capacity building

would henceforth enhance smooth

the growth execution, the value

pillar of its value propositions

financial transactions, eliminate

creation and the Return on

to SMEs. Aside banking services,

bottlenecks associated with the use

Investment are awesome. Across

Micro Health Insurance is another

of cash (mutilated notes, forgery,

enabling service offered to these

cash handling charges, shortages)

agents via POS usage, such that

and increase the velocity of

their health security is covered


Africa we have a large percentage of people living below the average of 69% total population, who have no 20


NIGERIA TO PILOT CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCY IN OCTOBER On Oct. 1, CBN will reportedly launch a pilot scheme for

view, ranging from higher efficiency for payments and

“GIANT,” a CBDC project in development since 2017

remittances, better monetary policy transmission,

that runs on the open-source blockchain Hyperledger

improved tax revenue collection, and the facilitation of


targeted social policies.

Rakiya Mohammed, CBN’s information technology

Alongside CBN, the Bank of Ghana has this summer

director, said the bank might conduct a proof-of-

been moving rapidly toward the pilot stage for its

concept before the end of 2021. In a webinar this week

own central bank digital currency. The country has

with stakeholders, CBN representatives reportedly

positioned itself as a pioneer in CBDC development

emphasised that the institution could not afford

on the continent and considers central bank-issued

to be left behind while the vast majority of central

digital currencies to be superior to and less risky than

banks worldwide make headway with their own CBDC

decentralized cryptocurrencies.

research and development.

However, Ghana’s wariness of crypto is overshadowed

Among the motivations cited for the project, CBN has

by Nigeria’s more aggressive measures, which include

noted that a CBDC would be beneficial for macro and

a ban on commercial banks and other financial

growth management, cross-border trade support and

institutions from servicing crypto exchanges. Despite

financial inclusion.

this, Bitcoin (BTC) adoption and peer-to-peer trades

Potential benefits could still extend further, in CBN’s

have remained high in the country.


PSP License allows Cellulant to

Ghana is fast becoming a hub for

Cellulant has acquired PSP License

aggregate merchant services,

fintech in Africa. Being licensed

in Ghana as it rolls out a digital

process financial services, acquire

by the Bank of Ghana means a lot

payments solution for businesses

merchants; deploy POS systems,

to the growth of our industry and

and aggregate payments for banks,

opens doors to increased security

institutions, and the general public.

and confidence in digital payments

The license is a requirement under

systems. Cellulant’s digital

the Payment Services Act 2019

payments platform is allowing

which mandates that all Financial

every Ghanaian to pay for their

Technology or digital payments

goods and services through any

companies be licensed by the Bank

payment channel of their choice.”

Cellulant is also launching Tingg in Ghana to provide the best customer experience for all persons and businesses looking to digitise their payments, collect, and disburse to customers today. This announcement came after the Central Bank of Ghana issued Cellulant a payment services provider (PSP) License. The 22

of Ghana before they can operate in the country.

Hundreds of businesses have

Cellulant Ghana country manager,

to collect digitally from their

Eric Kortey, said, “We believe that

customers across Ghana.

already begun using Tingg


PAN-AFRICAN FINTECH PLATFORM APPZONE SECURES $10M SERIES A FUNDING Appzone, the Pan-African fintech software provider building proprietary solutions for the continent’s banking and payments industries, has announced the close of its $10mn Series A round. Led by CardinalStone Capital Advisers with participation from V8 Capital, Lateral Investment Partners, Constant Capital, and Itanna Capital Ventures, the new round will bolster investment in Appzone’s core technologies and kickoff a wave of new country expansions in a drive to build out a financial operating system intended to completely digitise and automate the delivery of financial services on the continent. Launched in 2008, AppZone delivers best-in-class products for

have served 18 commercial banks

limited to using foreign technology

digital core banking and interbank

and over 450 microfinance banks,

solutions tailored for Western

transaction processing with clients

amassing a yearly transaction value

markets – many of which are

across seven African countries

and yearly loan disbursement of

plagued with the huge stumbling

including high-profile names

$2bn and $300mn respectively.

blocks of prohibitive pricing,

like Access Bank, GT Bank and Zenith Bank. Since its inception, the company, also an alumnus of the Google launchpad accelerator, has led Africa’s fintech sector through radical innovation that resulted in a number of global firsts from the continent, including the world’s first decentralized payment processing network , the first core banking and omni-channel software on the cloud and the first multi-bank direct debit service based on single global mandates. To date, the company’s platforms

As Africa’s traditional banks and fintech startups grapple with

insufficient flexibility to innovate and a lack of local tech support.

the increasing threat from telco

Speaking on the fundraise,

companies and big tech players,

Appzone’s Co-Founder and CEO

AppZone’s products effectively

Obi Emetarom says: “We’re

and affordably equip them to deal

excited not only to be securing a

with the sector’s most pressing

significant capital raise, but also

challenges including legacy cost

welcoming on board some strategic

structures and a major lack of

investors whose support will be

operational efficiency. Currently,

key to our growth journey. Today’s

due to a severe dearth of high-

news allows us to scale Appzone’s

quality localised solutions that

products and services rapidly. For

address these problems, traditional

the last 12 years, we’ve worked in

and challenger banks in Africa are

stealth mode, building the really 23

NEWS FROM WEST AFRICA complex infrastructure to power

Association of Microfinance Banks)

the continent’s growing digital

and CeBIH (Committee of eBusiness

financial services space and forging

Industry Heads) awards.

partnerships with the continent’s biggest financial institutions. In terms of next steps, we are now looking to hire from Africa’s top 1% to grow our team of elite talent who have proven themselves to be true African builders; the brightest senior software engineers and domain experts, doing the incredibly hard work of building the backbone and next generation infrastructure for digital financial services at a level beyond worldclass. We are seeking out gifted and audacious engineering and entrepreneurial minds, hungry to accelerate economic prosperity and tackle challenging technology with us. We are not just trying to bring African fintech on-par with the rest of the world – we exist to make our financial sector the most innovative and technologically advanced on the globe through solutions built for Africa by Africans.” Currently, Appzone’s clients spread across Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), Tanzania, Senegal and Guinea and to-date, the company has raised $15m in equity funding with previous investors including Lateral Capital, GreenHouse Capital, Timon Capital and Itanna. In 2018, the company obtained an officially approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria to operate as a Payment Solution Service Provider (PSSP) and has been the recipient of a number of industry awards including the Frost & Sullivan Award, NAMB (National 24

Yomi Jemibewon, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Cardinal Stone Capital Advisers said: “Our investment in Appzone is further proof of Africa’s potential as the future hub of world class technology. Appzone is building a disruptive FinTech ecosystem that will be the backbone of Africa’s finance industry with products across payments, infrastructure and Software as a Service. The impact of Appzone’s work is multifold – the company’s products deepen financial inclusion across the continent whilst providing best-fit and low cost solutions to financial institutions. Its emphasis on premium talent also helps stem brain drain, rewarding Africa’s best brains with best in class employment opportunities.” Despite its challenges, Africa’s banking sector is projected to reach a total market valuation of $129bn by 2022 according to McKinsey & Co. As the industry struggles to serve Africa’s huge unbanked population, there has been a growing influx of fintech platforms filling the gap. In recent years, these startups have attracted major interest from investors across the globe and in 2020, the sector accounted for over a third of the total $1.3bn in funding secured by African tech startups.

VISTA BANK GROUP, SELECTS PAYTECH PROVIDER RADAR PAYMENTS BY BPC TO DRIVE ITS DIGITAL PAYMENT STRATEGY BPC have announced that the Vista Bank Group (Vista) has selected its paytech provider Radar Payments to drive its global payment processing activities. Vista is a Pan-African financial services company, which aims to contribute to economic growth and financial inclusion across Africa. It has an ambitious agenda to challenge the status quo and deliver a superior experience to retail customers, large enterprises and MSMEs across West Africa. The group is expanding rapidly through a series of successive strategic acquisitions that include First International Bank (FIB) Group in Gambia, followed by BNP Paribas’ Subsidiaries, La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Guinée (BICIGUI) in Guinea and La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce l’Industrie et l’Agriculture du Burkina (BICIAB) in Burkina Faso. Vista Bank is now the top bank in Guinea by assets and network coverage.

NEWS FROM WEST AFRICA In response to its digital-first

acquisition in ATM, Point-of-Sales,

Vista Bank is taking bold decisions

strategy, Vista has selected Radar

Contactless, QR payment, and

when it comes to its technology

Payments by BPC as its preferred


stack, forming alliances with the

partner to drive digital payment adoption in the region. Radar Payments will centralise payment operations at Vista’s tech hub located in Senegal, supervising Vista Bank’s activities in Guinea, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Sierra

This announcement comes at a time where AfCFTA, the panAfrican free trade agreement has become a reality. Since 1st January 2021, AfCFTA has set new business standards for 41

best partners in their own fields. By selecting Radar Payments, the paytech by BPC, we have chosen a leader with a solid reputation in delivering superior global payments processing.”

countries and 1.2 billion people to

Evgenia Loginova, CEO of Radar

help accelerate economic growth

Payments, commented: “We are

across the continent. The free trade

proud to join Vista Bank on their

programme promises a change in

journey to transform the way

trading rules, with reduced import

people bank, pay and get paid,

export taxes making commerce

while making financial services

The agreement will see Vista

more affordable for players in

more accessible to them. This

Bank running on BPC’s flagship

Africa. It also means that the

partnership was born from our

payment suite, SmartVista

volume of transactions will sharply

shared vision to successfully

to manage card issuance and

increase and banks in the continent

solve real life payment problems

lifecycle management, payment

will have to gear up for a pan-

with a high-end, globally proven

switching, ATM and Point-Of-Sales

African service.

digital solution that focuses on end

Leone while leaving room for further banks to join its network. It is part of the bank’s growth agenda to expand to Burkina-Faso, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Mali.

management as well as providing digital channels such as mobile banking and e-wallet; personalised to both retail and corporate clients. The bank is planning to accelerate the issuance of UnionPay International (UPI) branded cards including prepaid, debit, and premium cards, in addition to the

Simon Tiemtore, Group Chairman at Vista Bank, said: “With AfCFTA, banks have to think pan-Africa first, and realise that we need to step up the game in terms of ease of payment, a critical component to every banking and business

customers. Together, with the help of cutting-edge digital payment solutions, we will provide easy, instant and secure movement of money, thereby transforming Vista Bank into a trailblazing player within the continent. “

experience. As a challenger bank,


solutions, and running Payments Infrastructure by

raised an undisclosed amount in its Series B funding

rethinking the needs of consumers, businesses, and


the financial industry. Beginning operations in 2015,

The funding round was led by Novastar Ventures with participation from FMO, Global Ventures, CDC, Oui Capital, Kepple Africa Ventures, Soma Capital, and a

TeamApt was born from a desire to create financial happiness, building solutions and tools for businesses and individuals to happily manage money.

syndicate of local angel investors including Gbenga

This new influx of funds will be used to extend its


offerings directly to customers and micro-SMEs by

TeamApt is a financial technology company focused on, developing Digital Banking, Digital Business

giving them access to the financial access lifelines they need to succeed. The company also plans to expand their solutions beyond Nigeria. 25


“The traditional branches do have

channels, we are able to them

digital service to its customers

their place; they have something to

satisfied. This also gives opportunities

and demonstrate the best of

support with but AccessX centre is 100

for the customers to have full digital

innovative solutions through self-

per cent digital support.”

experience in channels we are all

service banking, Access Bank Plc has launched AccessX that it has termed an experience centre.

Providing details on other digital services that customers can benefit from the AccesX centre, Daniel

aware of and also it helps us get feedback to improve our channels and see the way the customers interact with our channels.”

The bank explained that the

Akumabor, the Chief Technology

experience centre is a one-

Officer – Channels, said: “There are

And when asked about how accessible

stop technology hub where its

a lot of concepts and services we can

it is for customers anywhere,

customers are taken on a digital

afford customers and that does not

Akumabor said: “Customers from any

tour spanning from Artificial

mean that this is an exclusive place

part of the world can reach excellent

intelligence to Robotics, and Smart

where we do all that.

centres and get things resolved for


“Customers coming in here can do


The financial institution said the

a lot of things. They can resolve

“Here is the difference, we know

centre is related to digital channels

challenges, complaints, enquiries or

that our customers like to do things

and a place to demonstrate the best

requests across our digital channels.

digitally and if they go to any of our

of its innovative solutions through self-service banking.

“When they say digital channels, that stands for when there is a card,

The bank’s Executive Director,

USSD, internet banking, mobile app is

Retail Banking, Victor Etuokwu,

paramount for cooperate customers.

said: “AccessX is an additional touchpoint to back up our customers.

“And as a bank, we are very innovative, we have a lot of our own solutions to the internet market,

“It is recognition of the fact that

and we have things like face field,

90 percent of our transactions are

swift pages and merchant enquiries

engagement with the customers is

solution for our customers.

digital and so those require support from us in some forms either on their cards, mobile apps or internet banking are given. “As we are setting up this experience centre across the country, our customers will have a point of contact where they can get support, find out what is new on digital and get speedy service that is outside of the traditional branches.


“As we roll out all those digital

branches for complaints, there would always be some things that they will need to refer to service engineer at the bank’s office and tell the customers something like this would be resolved in the next few hours. “The reason they do that is they would refer the matter to somebody else who is going to work on it but when you walk in here that is not going to happen because the tech skits can do it on the spot.”



Senate for trusting us to print new

confirmation hearing that he has

Executive Governor J. Aloysius

bank notes,” he said.

served the position since 2019

Tarlue, Jr., has told a Senate confirmation hearing that the banking system in the country

The CBL boss suggested that the use of mobile money system helped

and was reappointed by President Weah.

them greatly during the ongoing

According to him, when he took

COVID-19 crisis, where people will

over in 2019, the exchange rate

Appearing before the Senate

not be able to stand in huge cues in

was high and there was inflation,

Committee on Banking, Finance,

baking halls as a way of observing

saying in order to have some of

and Currency during his

social distancing.

these settled, Liberia joined the

needs to go digital.

confirmation hearing, Tarlue said the printing of money is not the solution to the problem here.

Governor Tarlue explained that there are not many banks in the various counties, lamenting that

International Monetary Fund (IMF) program and was asked to cut down staff and carry on salary harmonisation.

Tarlue, who was concluding a

four counties have a single bank

tenure as CBL Governor when he

and it is very difficult for the people

Dr. Dukuly explained further

was nominated again by President

in the rural areas to get their

that CBL cut down 274 staffers

George Manneh Weah, informed


because the program was a lifeline

the Senate Committee that US$ 6m has been allocated for the digital banking project, already approved by the World Bank. According to him, since he became governor of the Central Bank, he has put a prudent financial system in place because he observed that the system has been abused for so long.

According to him, the digital system will be a great help, noting

for Liberia’s economy and they couldn’t miss being a part of it.

that “My legacy is [to] change

He said in 2919, he took over with

Liberia to a digital country.”

no handover notes, adding that

Governor Tarlue continued that the CBL is working with Nigeria, Ghana, and other African countries, noting that buying rice and other

the domestic production was weak and there were about $23 million dollars outside the bank, though it is now about $20 million.

things from Nigeria and Ghana will

Dr. Dukuly concluded that since he

be cheaper in transportation than

took over in 2019, there has been

Mr. Tarlue explained further

getting it from those other faraway

a growth in the microeconomic

that during his first term as CBL


system, saying Liberia has reached

Governor, he put a biometric tracking system into place in order to know who goes to work or not, and also an appraisal system into place. Tarlue further stated that they have a three-year strategic plan to lead the CBL forward, noting that the CBL Act was approved under his leadership while the first four billion Liberian Dollars were printed under his watch. “Thanks again to the Liberian

For his part, Deputy CBL Governor for Economy Policy Dr. Musa Dukuly said during his

the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) target.

THE NEED FOR A DeFi ECOSYSTEM IN AFRICA Africa is a continent where most of the population is unbanked or does not have any bank accounts. Financial systems and banks have tried to change this status quo but have remained unsuccessful so far.

work with organisations to

service that not many people

provide people with necessary

around the globe need. This is

loans, but the interest rates are

because people in countries such

pretty high.

as the USA have enough banking

Finally, bureaucracy is a significant obstacle that people must overcome to create bank accounts and perform simple banking functions.

These are the main challenges people face while trying to leverage The primary reasons for this are as

banking resources for sustainable


financial growth.

Most of the banking infrastructure and processes are poorly built and handled.

Conventional banking systems are challenging to build due to a lack of resources that can help people understand finance as a subject on a deeper level.

Moreover, the physical banks are not available everywhere, thus taking a toll on the people due to the cost and time wasted

Africa is a continent with a majority of the population under the age of 35 that has a higher usage of smartphones and the internet. This increases the opportunities for them to access banking services remotely via unconventional and innovative mediums such as DeFi.

Why Africa Is A Potential DeFi Hub

traveling to one.

According to Cardano CEO Charles

There are certain banks that

Hoskinson, DeFi is currently a


systems that are fast, efficient, regulated, and provide all the services necessary for the citizens in a relatively straightforward manner. Hence, shifting to a completely different finance paradigm will be difficult for these people, and there would be resistance from them since their needs are already being met. The same logic can be applied to people in Africa who do not get help from any system. Although there is awareness about how institutions function in other places, people do not have institutions in place that can serve them. This makes Africa a potential opportunity for DeFi platforms to engage with the people here and cater to them since they’d be more than willing to shift to systems

Xend Finance

that are faster, cost-effective,

seen as a threat by traditional

transparent, and have no central or

banking institutions so a path

bureaucratic authority managing

needs to be charted where

Xend Finance is a Nigerian DeFi


traditional institutions and

platform startup that was launched

new-age DeFi space can work

in 2019. It is the first DeFi platform

together to elevate the banking

out of Africa and claims to be the

experience for the public.

first DeFi Credit Union platform.

Advantages Of A DeFi System •

With DeFi platforms and

to have seamless on and off-

systems in place, the people

ramp procedures for people

who haven’t had access to

who currently possess only fiat

any financial systems can


now access it anytime they want with just a phone and an

ones, it still is prone to smart

The platform will be run

contracts and poor security

with tech, and hence there


will be more autonomy and independence for people who

to-use and understandable UI/


UX so that people from all walks of life can avail and leverage its

It’ll be faster, cheaper, and People can perform P2P transactions such as lending, borrowing, etc., and without the need for a central authority or intermediaries.

Challenges Of A DeFi System •

There might be a resistance to change and mass adoption of this innovative system.

DeFi systems should have easy-

want to manage their own

benefits for their growth.

relatively more secure. •

Though the system is more secure than the traditional

internet connection. •

The DeFi system will also need

Finally, liquidity on the platform will be imperative for people to incur lower fees and obtain currencies at a minimal price.

Areas Where DeFi Can Be Used DeFi systems in Africa can provide access to banking, getting mortgages or loans, wealth management tools, investment

Since DeFi is a relatively new

opportunities, solutions for small-

space, there can be programs to

to-medium sized businesses,

usher people into the space and

insurance, and real estate too!

The company participated in the Google Launchpad Africa Accelerator and Binance Incubator Program and obtained funding of $2.2 billion. Built on the Binance Smart Chain, the platform looks at currency devaluation as a use case and wants to leverage decentralized systems to provide better financial services. The platform will launch a $XEND token that will provide additional benefits to the users by providing them rewards for performing operations on the network. Furthermore, it will also enable decentralized governance in their finance ecosystem.

Conclusion In essence, Africa looks promising for DeFi platforms, and the scope is enormous. As Charles Hoskinson said, it is predicted that over 100 million users will be part of different DeFi ecosystems in the next three years.

showcase its benefits. •

Companies will need to work with government regulatory boards to co-create policies that best serve the public.

Usually, DeFi as a system is

With all these systems in place, people will be able to have sustainable financial growth and, in the long run, make them more in control of their future.



Unlocking digital

transformation to power inclusive financial services in Nigeria


ome to over 200 companies in just a few years, the Nigerian

Dayo Ademola Managing Director Branch International

fintech space has become widely known for developing and delivering innovative value propositions across the financial service value chain to meet the

Understanding financial inclusion The World Bank defines financial

such as mobile payments, digital

inclusion as a situation where

lending platforms, savings,

individuals and businesses can

wealth management, and much

access useful, affordable, and

more, seem to be transforming

timely financial products and

fundamentally, to challenge models of traditional institutions and infrastructure. This coupled with a youthful population and increasing smartphone penetration are contributing to the overall fintech growth. Whilst these innovations are notable, there is still the question of how to deepen access to these solutions; simply put, how do we dramatically increase the rate of financial inclusion in Nigeria? In reigniting the economy postpandemic, the role of financial inclusion has become ever-more important. 30

and are delivered responsibly and sustainably. Driving financial inclusion has been highlighted as a

needs of customers. Innovations

the financial service industry

services that meet their needs

key booster in enabling prosperity for the Nigerian economy. Following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) which was launched in 2012 and aimed to achieve 80% financial inclusion of adults at the end of 2020, a


new report released by Enhancing

the customer wins, and this will

The ultimate solution (if there

Financial Innovation & Access

further drive financial inclusion

is indeed one) to the financial

(EFInA), shows that Nigeria has

and address some of the deficits

inclusion problem in Nigeria lies

missed this target by 16% having

the “included but underserved” are

with both the public and private

achieved 64% financial inclusion

facing. EFInA in its 2020 report,

sectors. The financial services

by the end of 2020.

endorses innovation enablement,

regulators must continue to enact

digital ID and credit infrastructure,

enabling policies, and the industry

and technology talent, as actions

players must continue to innovate

that could further lead to a higher

solutions to the deficits we face -

rate of financial inclusion in

infrastructure, education, security.

Advancing financial inclusion through digital transformation Digital financial solutions need to be easily and quickly available to the financially excluded and underserved. Our insights at Branch International reveal that, particularly in remote parts of Nigeria, this goal is elusive, due to high infrastructure deficits in these areas. We further identify that technology can help leapfrog some of these deficits.

Nigeria. At Branch International, our Primary area of impact is with underserved customers - those who lack a full suite of adequate financial service options. According to a 2017 KPMG report, this challenge plagues about 98% of Nigeria’s financially eligible population. Removing the barriers is a priority for a company like Branch International as we offer a wide range of affordable and timely

Further digital transformation in

products and services to meet

the financial services sector will

the financial needs of customers

benefit both newer fintech players


and the incumbent banks. Overall,

Looking to the future There are optimistic projections that the financial inclusion progress rates could grow faster with the implementation of favorable policies by regulators to encourage digital transformation within the sector. Opportunities abound to innovate on business models that increase affordability, reinforce trust and expand capacity for financial services to be built and tailored to the Nigerian market. There is also an untapped space by partnering telcos, retailers, and other financial technology firms to provide services to those who are excluded and underserved. Ultimately, the regulatory landscape needs to grow the capacity and expertise to enable the digital space which in turn will support and widen the horizons of financial inclusion.

Dayo Ademola is available for interviews on the above topic and other aspects of the financial inclusion conversation.



Digital Transformation in Financial Services in Zimbabwe, are we there yet?


he payment system in Zimbabwe has gone through interesting

changes in the last decade, however most of the interesting

Gerald Munyaradzi Nyakwawa Chief Association Executive Digital Finance Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe

changes have happened in the last mobile money on the majority of

impact of interoperability of mobile

its instant payments. The reduction

money on the digital payments

of limits and the number of mobile

space to covid making an impact

money wallets citizens can have on

on financial services as well as

any mobile money operator system


was another shock. Despite all the

been in a period of interesting developments, it has been a period like no other for the financial services. Whilst the appointment of ZimSwitch as the new national switch may have come as a shock

money so as to allow citizens to transact freely and remotely maintaining physical distance as well as transacting in a healthy manner.

3 or so years. From debating the

From 2019 to 2020 Zimbabwe has

central bank’s orders on mobile

debate surrounding mobile money, the regulators were adamant that mobile money had become a systemic risk in the financial services sector and something needed to be done urgently before the whole financial services is

There is no doubt that the pandemic has confronted all industries, however it appears payments, finance and banking are at the epicenter of this experience that is “renovating” the financial services sector. Working from home has also changed the way we work, the way we trade and the way we pay. Of course, those in the financial services sector have been working meticulously to


innovate and create positive change

can equally argue that the closure

In the midst of all the limits debate,

transformation. We give credit to

of agent lines was a bigger shock.

Covid-19 happened, it ushered

covid for accelerating this change,

This especially in a country that

in a new need or a perceived

even banks that have often been

had become evidently reliant on

justification to reversing the

considered to be traditional now

to the mobile money industry, one


for customers through digital


have digital banking or alternative

Digital transformation in the

the central bank imposed limits

banking departments. It’s only in

financial services space is a

on mobile money accounts there

government where we have not

massive responsibility given the

was growth in terms of usage. The

seen the creation of a financial

current limits imposed by the

Postal and Telecommunications

inclusion inclined and focused

central bank on mobile money

Regulatory Authority Zimbabwe


transactions. Despite all the

(Potraz) reports that

Digital transformation in financial services has always been a fundamental part of a successful business strategy in the financial services industry. We have moved from the bank branches to Automated Teller Machines (ATM) (bank to machines). From ATMs to Bank applications (from machines back to banks through technology). Now we have mobile money and a lot of other Digital Financial Services offered by nonbank operators like FinTechs and TechFins.

Why is digital transformation important in the financial service industry? For starters digital transformations lead to sustained adoption

challenges the service providers, as customer centric organisations have to meet the ever-changing customer expectations, thus digital transformations have the potential to move customers from a lower level of satisfaction to a higher level. However, this must all be done in adherence to regulatory statutes and guidelines around consumer protection,

Not surprisingly the central bank

data protection and anti-money

reports that there was a significant

laundering laws and policies. Thus,

increase in digital payments both

as the service providers innovate

in value and in volume in the same

the regulators also have to innovate


so that they are not left behind.

Digital transformations have a multiplier

and government. Digital transformations are a key driver to economic development and job creation. In the pandemic digitisation may help stop the

to interact using digital means and pay using the same digital platforms. Whilst I’m sitting in my house, I can use my phone through USSD or an application to access a store and make an order and get it delivered to my location without exposing myself to health risks.

Due to the lockdown most retailers realised the importance of a digital presence and they started setting up online stores,


retailers and wholesalers to set-

there was evidently a race among up e-commerce platforms to

The impact of Covid – 19 Involuntary adoption of digital financial services demand side

economy from contracting as consumers and businesses continue

Supply side

effect in any

of connected digital services by citizens, businesses

The total number of active mobile money subscriptions as at 31 December 2020, was 6,495,682. This represents a 2.7% growth from 6,325,666 recorded as at 30September 2020

capture sales. A sizable number of consumers were now shopping online. Similarly, the same retail shops were setting up e-commerce platforms to try and minimise the number of customers visiting their shops given that most staff were

Zimbabwe has experienced two

now working from home. In this

lockdowns and social distancing

period, we witnessed an increased

rules that have forced people to

number of dial-a-delivery services.

stay indoors only going outdoors to

Some aligned to the retail chains

buy essential goods and/or services.

others independent.

This has forced an increased adoption of digital financial services in particular and digital technologies in general. Even after

Banks on the other hand, given the same circumstances and at the same time not wanting to lose out 33


on the BoP customers affected by

by citizens, organisations and

the government should exert

the mobile money restrictions,

MSMEs especially those in the

its energy on redefining and

offered remote account opening

informal sector. We have recently

realigning outdated regulatory

services. They encouraged the use

experienced the launch of national

frameworks and institutions.

of their bank applications; this was

data centers aimed at promoting

Nurturing digital banking and

motivated by banks zero-rating

e-government. Government being

fintech penetration with the correct

data on bank mobile apps which

the biggest organisation that

communications infrastructure

means customers could access bank

interacts with citizens, this move

will aid the development of the

apps without any data credit in

will definitely help in the country’s

financial services space. The

their smartphones.

efforts to digitise.

government also needs to recognise

This is the era that we have seen

Government can promote digital

the development of smart bots

transformations and acceptance

as well as WhatsApp banking,

through all-inclusive digital

where customers can interact

policies and promoting digital

with a Bot and do majority of the

telecommunications infrastructure.

transactions that they can do on the

Just like the national data centers,

bank application as well as USSD platform.

A journey of a thousand miles. Whilst covid has pushed the country up to speed with regards to digital transformations, it will be unfair to put all the credit on the pandemic as financial services and retail chains where already working on customer interfacing technologies. The pandemic may only have increased the speed to

and understand the implications of each new business model in order to quickly react. The central bank has launched the new sandbox guidelines which are aimed at closing the gap between knowledge and application.

Challenges to digital transformations. Digital identities Identity is a precondition for participating in society by facilitating access to health and welfare systems, education, and financial and government services. With the accelerating digital transformation, a rapidly growing number of transactions is conducted online, creating an ever-more-urgent need for a digital identity.” Based on verified personal information, a digital identity can be defined as a set of digitally captured and stored attributes such as name, date of birth or gender coupled with credentials that are linked to a unique identifier to identify a person and thereby facilitate transactions in the digital world.

launch, we have noticed a lot of products coming to the market, at

It appears the future of financial

are not simply referring to a

minimum viable product stage, and

services is based on digital

program or system that identifies

they are developed and updated as

identities, in a country where

human individuals, an identity

time goes whilst it is already in use.

some citizens lack national

could consequently refer to a

identity cards but own a

person as to their car, house,

cellphone and sometimes do

phone, many other electronic

even transact on mobile money

devices, and the association and

without the required identity

relationship of these components

cards. Digital identities can

and their identities with the

help identify individuals and

human individual may simply be

their relationship with other

deemed to be a logical expression

attributes such as assets and

of ownership and/or proof of

location. Thus, the when we


The promotion and adoption of digital financial services in Zimbabwe is a factor of government preparedness and company willingness to transform. The government of Zimbabwe has a critical challenge to promote the acceptance of new technologies and ease of digital adoption 34

refer to “digital identity” we


Data sharing Related to digital identities are the lack of data sharing arrangements within and across industries. With digital identities in financial services repeated registration on account opening will be rendered outdated. To date if one wants to open a bank or mobile money account, one has to take the same documents to all the financial services providers and payment services providers where they intend to open the account. All the financial services providers will run the same customer with the financial clearing bureau at a cost before they can open an account. Digital Identity will allow for customers to register at a central database whose data is shared within the industry thus opening an account means the financial service provider will pull the data

Most systems in developing

situation in Zimbabwe seems

countries including Zimbabwe

to be encouraging closed loop

allow for data sharing after the

systems within MNOs. Dominant

fraud event has since occurred.

players within any industry tend

The time delay between reporting

to dislike any form of cooperation,

and the fraud event may result in

collaboration and interoperability.

another bank being hit by the same

They sense that any form of

fraud before the first has reported

cooperation is like handing over

or has shared the information with

their customers to competition

the central bank.

on a silver platter. They may be justified in doing so given

Dominant Mobile Network Operators It will be ideal in the digital transformations space in general and in digital financial inclusion if Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and payments services providers would complement where they should and compete where they must. Infrastructure sharing is a great step forward when it

the historical and legacy issues surrounding the development of the telecommunications industry. However, if the goal is digital transformations, if the goal is digital financial inclusion, then there may be a need for some massaging by the central bank. Governments may need to develop incentives or regulations to encourage these pro-poor collaborations and innovations.

comes to digitisation. The current

from the central source and make an open or reject decision based on the industry available data. Zimbabwe is currently using static data sets thus making it difficult for customers to access financial services. Fraud protection can also be enhanced through data sharing. Most anti-fraud systems in financial services are based upon the data that financial institutions share. For small economies like Zimbabwe this can be critical because if two banks are hit by the same fraud it can lead to systemic impact on the monetary system. Thus, a data sharing agreement may lead to mechanisms to predict potential fraud using machine learning and artificial intelligence. 35


Way forward for Zimbabwe As we conclude etrade for all, identifies the five priority areas for digital transformations, these can be adopted by Zimbabwe and these can assist in bringing the digital age in finance and in general at a faster rate “than covid” and this will help Zimbabwe to move with the times and move with the regions. COMESA and SADC are already working on instant inclusive retail payment systems for the BoP market to promote inter and intra-regional trade. However, are our MSMEs ready to ride on this bandwagon, are they prepared to take advantage of these digital and e-commerce platforms found in the region. The five priority areas are Craft a digital compact for inclusive development – there is a need for the country to adopt a nationwide digital change program that is disruptive. Piloting it entails synchronised action. There is no doubt that in a country like Zimbabwe reconfiguring and restructuring an economy will result in some form of resistance, maybe from business as mentioned above or from political corners. In an almost polarised economy, the starting point can only be by achieving buy-in from

change in technology impacts peoples’ lives. Thus, any change that does not place citizens at the centre of socio-economic change can lead to social unrest. Even in instances where the change is for the greater benefit of the people, if they do not understand it, it may be deemed to be anti-people for example

be developmental for technology to include the bottom of the pyramid in mainstream economics it must be able to reach everyone on the economic pyramid. Govern technology for the future – in technology, change is the

mobile money in Zimbabwe was

only constant and regulators

done to minimise the potential

and policy makers should be

systemic risk that was now

tech-savvy. Recently the central

associated with mobile money

bank has come up with sandbox

but people did not understand it

guidelines. It is critical that in

and an economic decision was

the sandbox both the fintech

deemed to be political.

innovator and the Reserve Bank are learning from each other.

The pace and intensity of

Regulation has a tendency to

change means it’s all the more

follow innovation however when

important that people are at the center of the digital future – not the technology. Build the digital essentials – Digital financial services, digital products and services cannot be created in a vacuum there is need for the basic components to be in place. Does the country have the necessary infrastructure, are companies and the government willing to invest in technology?

Having reliable infrastructure, infrastructure sharing arrangements and

and business and to balance

interoperable systems means


that firms and service providers can focus on their core business,

digital future – as witnessed in

without having to build an

Zimbabwe when mobile money

enabling environment from

was launched in 2011 any rapid



technologies – for technology to

the closure of agent lines on

all players, political society

Put people at the center of the

Reach everyone with digital

you govern for the future the gap by which regulation follows innovation is reduced.


by Covid-19 pandemic.

“The smaller banks don’t cater

Positioned to compete with

and typically have a narrow


focus like just the high- or low-

Software Group, a global

income groups. We’re targeting

technology company specialised

individuals in all income groups

in digitalisation and integration

and businesses.”

solutions for the financial


offering for individuals comes with

Digital-only Bank Zero has opened

looking to enter the lending market

for business to individual clients and firms in South Africa, which is charting out plans to revive its economy from the damage caused

the country’s traditional and challenger banks, Bank Zero was originally planned to be launched by end of 2019, but was later pushed to end of 2020 and finally

special features such as a patent to stop card skimming and a facility to befriend accounts. The mutual digital bank Zero is not right now. Bank Zero chief executive Officer Yatin Narsai was quoted as saying: for such a wide target market

to 2021.

The bank is one of the last to

Marked by little marketing, the

a group of newly licensed banks

bank launched an account for individuals and business customers and has the same fees for both the

commence its operations among in the recent years, including TymeBank and Discovery Bank.

industry, and Botswana Post, an innovator in financial, logistics, postal, communications and agency services in Botswana, today announce a new stage of their partnership which enables


It also provides zero monthly

Botswana Post to significantly

account management fees, and

improve its existing agent network

Its offering for business owners

does not charge fees for bank

via Software Group’s market


leading Agency Banking platform.

also comes with integration of Xero accounting software, while its

Partners since 2018, Software Group and Botswana Post have helped the government in its mission of easing the disbursements process for pensioners and other vulnerable groups through digital means – effectively paying out to over 115 000 recipients each month. The digital technology not only saved time and improved convenience for the vulnerable group, but also proved viable for protecting their health during the COVID-19 crisis. Building on the existing infrastructure and utilising the full capabilities of Software Group’s robust Agency Banking




use of cash by just 8 percent, for

Even with a high banked population

further significant differences.

and a multitude of electronic

For example, if South Africa’s 16

payment options available, the

million daily transport commuters

Clifford Lekoko, Chief Commercial

average South African still use cash

were able to pay by scanning a QR

Officer at Botswana Post, said: “We

for daily purchases and payments

code instead of counting out cash

are pleased to have seen our agent

with an estimated 78-80% of

– with the transaction reflected in

network improve the lives of senior

transactions being in cash.

their accounts in real time. Not only

platform, Botswana Post will be able to quickly scale their agent network, improving the efficiency of their delivery and financial services. The institution expects to be facilitating a 6 million transaction volume within three years of implementation, while also extending its payment services to other government institutions and financial service providers.

citizens using state-of-the-art technology provided by Software Group. We plan to increase our services offerings and bring it to more citizens in line with our vision of extending our e-services channels for a modern digital economy in Botswana.” Connor Hanan, Africa CEO at Software Group, commented: “Under the leadership of Cornelius Ramatlhakwane, CEO, and Clifford Lekoko, CCO, Botswana Post has become one of the most forwardthinking institutions in Africa. We are proud to establish a long-term partnership with them in digitising their operations as the country moves towards a digital economy.”

Anton van der Merwe, the recentlyappointed COO of Ukheshe Technologies, a fintech enablement partner that works with financial

example, and growing digital transactions by that same number, means a shift of 10-15 billion transactions annually. “Looking at the underpenetrated target markets we can already see how technology can make

would this simplify the process, but it would also represent billions in value for the institutions enabling transactions,” says van der Merwe.

institutions to grow in the rapidly-

As part of its National Payment

expanding digital space, says

System Framework and Strategy

that for these reasons alone, the

– Vision 2025, the South African

opportunities for digital payments

Reserve Bank has outlined their

are set to boom.

vision for growth in financial

Van der Merwe, who has a strong background in traditional financial environments says that his appointment at Ukheshe represents the significant shift in the traditional and fintech spaces: “New technologies are expected to change the local landscape as emerging trends accelerate and traditional financial services

inclusion and greater electronic payments and within the broader financial industry these efforts are gaining momentum through new industry initiatives. Surveys show that over 70% of South Africans would want to transact on their phone, while there are an estimated 1 million of township merchants that could be included into the digital payments ecosystem.

Currently implemented in more

providers recognise the value in

than 15 countries across Africa,

partnering with fintechs to deliver

Van der Merwe says that the

Software Group’s Agency Banking

solutions quickly and efficiently.”

country already has a very high

is the most robust and mature software of this type in emerging markets. Built on the DigiWave Digital Banking Platform, it enables financial service providers to easily adopt new channels and features and drive innovation with quickto-market digital initiatives.

Electronic payments were first introduced in SA around 40 years ago, yet today, there are still many ecosystems such as the taxi environment, rural areas and townships that are cash heavy. That means the potential in the digital space is immense – reducing the

level of banked individuals, all that’s lacking is the infrastructure to accept digital payments on a large scale: “That’s where fintech enablement partners like Ukheshe come in. New solutions such as real-time QR code payments and recently-launched 39

NEWS FROM SOUTHERN AFRICA Whatsapp payments, in partnership with banks and retailers, demonstrates how


large, traditional

South African businesses, already

relatively high likelihood of payments

financial institutions or

under severe economic strain, are now

fraud being committed by an entity’s

any company looking

counting the costs of rapidly increasing

own staff,” says Mer.

for a payment solution,

internal payments fraud. According to

can keep up with the

Ryan Mer, Managing Director, eftsure

rapidly changing needs

Africa, a Know Your Payee™ (KYP)

of consumers.”

platform provider, the number of

He says that such partnerships combine the agility of smaller

recent high-profile cases before the courts only partly reflects the true scale of the problem.

He adds that while the amount of business transactions taking place online is constantly growing and working from home is now commonplace, business controls have not kept pace with digital transformation. This has led to

fintech firms with

Estimates suggest that it costs the

increasing demand for security and

the reach and trust of

private sector more than R2 billion

anti-fraud solutions.

traditional financial

every year to combat theft and fraud.

institutions, bringing

According to a PWC report, South


Africa was ranked as having one of

solutions to market with

the worst white-collar crime rates in

greater speed and ease.

the world. A similar study conducted

Conversely, our digital

by the Association of Certified Fraud

payments solution,

Examiners found that a typical

Eclipse, can also work

organisation loses at least 5 percent of

entirely independently

its annual revenue to fraud. The same

too. Through Eclipse,

study also found that once victimised,

Ukheshe’s locally

an organisation is unlikely to recover

developed universal

the losses. “Not only do South African

fintech API, the

businesses have to contend with the

company has enabled

threat of external bad actors, but the

card issuing, made up of three telcos, six banks and fintechs, 334 029 merchants and 2 271 880 apps. Payments that eliminate the inefficiencies and hidden safety costs associated with cash payments are already here, with their implementation just around the corner – and a more inclusive society along with it. 40

Positions that involve administering payments to creditors and suppliers, overseeing and processing invoices and electronic payments, and capturing bank statement transactions present a higher risk for businesses. “It’s crucial organisations implement best practice anti-fraud strategies to prevent, detect, investigate and remediate fraudulent activity before it becomes so serious it endangers the very survival of the business.”

NEWS FROM SOUTHERN AFRICA Mer points out that a recent

by automating manual

case of an East London

controls, placing less

personal assistant being

reliance on the manual and

jailed for 15 years for

human factor, giving those

stealing R11.5 million from

responsible for releasing

her employer highlights

payments confidence that

that many organisations

processes and controls

are too complacent by not

are in place and working

implementing enough

effectively prior to releasing

measures to tackle internal


payments fraud. “Often, businesses tighten certain payment approval policies without implementing a longer-term strategy and the necessary technology to truly make an impact. Despite an overwhelming majority of businesses having vendor onboarding, management and payment controls in place, cybercrime and payment fraud is a daily occurrence and a massive challenge for businesses. While the right controls might be in place theoretically, clearly definite gaps that need to be addressed” he says. Another hurdle organisations face is that those responsible for reviewing and releasing payments, such as CFOs, financial managers, senior managers, and directors, are under huge time constraints and don’t have capacity to check packs of supporting documents in detail on a regular basis or verify all banking details. At its core, eftsure helps protect organisations against financial fraud

In addition to understanding the risks of internal fraud and

CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS GAMECHANGER BankservAfrica’s transactions cleared on an immediate basis (TCIB) scheme could be a game changer for low-value cross-border payments following successful piloting in the SADC region. The TCIB scheme allows immediate clearing of single credit “push” transactions that are settled on a deferred basis.

boosting existing security,

The scheme provides an e-payment solution in

Mer advises businesses to

an environment in which many people do not

invest in tech solutions

have access to the formal banking sector.

with sufficient audit logs built in so that every action performed is recorded and can be traced back to the staff member responsible. “This is where eftsure’s automated check, with the click of a button, gives those responsible comfort in seconds as to the integrity of the payment information, prior to payment release, he says.” “People combined with technology and sound business processes are at the frontline of fighting fraud and mitigating risk. By building a culture of security within an organisation that ensures cooperation between employees and technology, it is significantly more difficult for bad actors, both external and internal, to commit white-collar crime,” says Mer.

Several companies were engaged by BankservAfrica to participate in the TCIB testing phase, and these included Virtual Technology Services of Namibia, which is described as a pioneer of e-money and e-payments solutions with its PaynGo product. As part of the pilot project, participating entities were requested to demonstrate their ability to use their technology platforms to initiate cross-border transactions between several SADC countries. On 30 July 2021, VTS became the first organisation in SADC to successfully do this by transferring the amount of N$20 in local currency from their digital e-money platform located in Namibia to a bank in Zimbabwe. The transaction was processed in real-time, meaning the Zimbabwean recipient received the money within seconds of the transaction being completed. The transaction was automatically converted to local currency at withdrawal point.VTS technical director Mr Paul Rowney said, “The 30th of July was an exciting, mind-blowing day for VTS and the entire participating regional team, to be part of this new initiative and for being at the forefront as the first of two companies located in Namibia and Zimbabwe to successfully send and receive payments over the TCIB scheme.” 41



Senegal; East Africa led by Kenya;

class are open to new fintech

recognised as the tech capital

and North Africa dominated by

propositions as we have seen from

of Africa, topping international

Egypt, as key African geographies

the likes of Flutterwave. While

rankings for foreign direct

to pay close attention to. Each are

in Nairobi, an influx of foreign

investment strategy, Ian Lessem,

quite different, with some of them

direct investment and financing

Managing Partner at HAVAÍC –

tackling more regional challenges

from national development

investors in early-stage, high-

and others offering globally scalable

finance institutions, coupled with

growth technology businesses –

solutions,” notes Lessem.

international skills transfers,

says several other African cities are quickly emerging as leading startup and investment hubs to watch.

A diversity of businesses are emerging in critical sectors such as e-health, fintech, security

have contributed to creating a flourishing startup environment,” says Lessem.

“Startups in Nigeria, Kenya,

and education, as African startup

He adds that Cairo’s access to

Egypt and South Africa raised a

investment continues its upward

favorable funding and product

total of US$625 million last year.

trajectory, having increased year-

distribution from the Middle East is

Of those, Kenyan startups raised

on-year for the past five years.

unique on the continent. “Egypt’s

US$191 million, the most of any

“West African hubs like Lagos have

large local customer base and

other African country, according

benefitted hugely from locals being

proximity to major international

to Disrupt Africa’s African Tech

skilled abroad and returning home

hubs in the UAE, Qatar, Oman and

Startup Funding Report for 2020.

where a young, bourgeoning middle

Saudi Arabia make it a strong B2B

Distinct startup geographies are emerging in Africa, each with the potential to become its own powerhouse,” he says. In addition, the World Bank predicts that two thirds of the world’s GDP growth will occur in cities over the next fifty years. Lessem says Africa’s rapid urbanisation is a welcome development as cities foster greater economic potential, business collaboration, and technological innovation needed to leapfrog traditional infrastructure, which can result in creating thriving tech ecosystems. “HAVAÍC sees Southern Africa, dominated by South Africa; Anglophone West Africa, led by Nigeria; Francophone West Africa, dominated by Cote d’Ivore and 42


(business to business) and B2B2C (business to business to consumer) regional player. Of course, South Africa’s strong blue chip corporate base and financial and digital infrastructure have ensured the country’s startups have been able to enter developed markets with their seamless tech competing toe-to-toe in international markets.” “In both English and French speaking West Africa, there are significant B2B2C opportunities, thanks in part to the development and growth of cities like Dakar,

MOBILE BANKING CHATBOT INTRODUCED IN ZIMBABWE Zimbabwean financial services provider First Capital Bank has announced the launch of Alisa, a WhatsApp banking chatbot, bringing together machine learning and cognitive computing technologies to provide customers and clients with various banking services. The bank says that this mobile application brings peace of mind with unique privacy and security settings, end-to-end encryption, and identification and verification processes prior to the completion of any personal banking transactions or information sharing.

Abidjan and Lagos. Ultimately,

Interactions with Alisa are free, with charges applying

massive improvements in

to transactions depending on their tariffs.

infrastructure, maturing financial markets and broader access to higher education are laying the foundation for Africa’s tech hubs and signal an exciting future for the continent’s startups who prove time and time again they can compete with the

The bank has also introduced reverse billing through what it calls a zero rating solution that allows Econet customers to access their internet banking and mobile banking app at no cost to them. This development, says First Capital Bank, makes it one of the few banks currently offering this service.

best in Silicon Valley, London and

The consumer banking director Angela Kamhiriri

Singapore,” Lessem points out.

has described the current developments as being

HAVAÍC’s own investment thesis is centred around investing in local African tech businesses that have

in line with the predominant digital banking global standards which will allow customers to transact with ease.

the ability to scale and service both

Ironically, however, many customers who need such

regional and global markets. “Our

a service may have trouble accessing it. According

ability to invest locally, strategically

to the Zimbabwean Sunday News, Zimbabwe’s vice

nurture, and help internationalise

president Constantino Chiwenga has called on mobile

our portfolio is what sets us apart.

phone operators to provide network connectivity

More than ever before, investing and

to marginalised communities, pointing out that

supporting local, growing innovation

the government wants connectivity to support

with the potential for global

programmes such as online educational platforms,

elevation, is a smart investment

electronic passports and e-licensing.

decision at the heart of Africa’s future,” Lessem says. 43


How is API

Driven Innovation

I m p r ovin g

the Banking Experience? he popularity of API banking systems is driving more and more innovation,

pay bills all from an app on your

Uzo Onumonu Digital Transformation Executive

smartphone. Your service can be used to do whatever you want it to. There are no limits.

particularly among fintechs. Major players want APIs to be successful in this space. Banks are accelerating the adoption of API technology to improve transparency and increase customer

provide a seamless digital banking experience. The API Banking service lets you offer new digital services to


consumers and businesses in ways

By opening up bank account

make your products and services

information to third-party service providers, API Banking allows financial institutions to 44

you never could have imagined and more profitable. With API banking, you can apply for a loan, transfer money between countries, and

Banks around the world recognise the potential of APIs in transforming financial services. In 2015, a survey by software firm Fundica found that nearly 60 percent of banks had already deployed or were planning to implement APIs by 2017. Accenture said that 34 percent of financial services institutions had started using APIs and predicted a rise of 56 percent by 2017.


The term “API banking” is popping up in conversations across the industry -- and this is hardly surprising since banking is a sector that continues to undergo continuous innovation. API or Application Programming Interface is a set of networks and protocols that allow machines to communicate with software or the internet. More than just a communication protocol, APIs are responsible for bridging the technological divide between Effectively, financial institutions

with the introduction of API

have already experienced the

(application programming

disruptive power of digital

interface) enabled bank services

innovation and are reaping its

and technologies. This has turned

benefits. Financial services that

bankers into masters of their

leverage APIs as the primary way

fortune and also empowered them

to draw value from external data

to contribute significantly to the

have a competitive edge over their

global economy through innovation


and entrepreneurship. Not only that but they are empowered by it

Technology-Banking is driving

because it enables them to innovate

innovation because it inherently

faster and more efficiently. The

drives market disruption.

creation of new banking services

Innovation comes from combining

has become possible due to open-

technology and business in new

source software (OSS) standards

ways that solve problems or create

and ecosystems that allow for

value for customers and businesses.

the seamless integration of new

The trend is further accelerating


specialist software and nonspecialist software applications. With just a few lines of code, an API can be transformed into a working solution for your business requiring high availability and distributed systems, automatic failover between clusters, and the ability to message other computers on the internet using your domain name. Banks now allow third-party platforms to add more value to their user and open up new business opportunities based on the API Banking Technology that is transforming the financial industry.



The banking industry is

The Internet of Everything (IoE)

increased utilisation and wealth of

continuously growing at a fast pace.

revolutionised consumption

information available from these

Innovations in the banking space

three years ago with the arrival

systems. Banks are making use of

include API-first banks, banks that

of smartphones and the apps

this knowledge and using it to make

serve as developers, and more. Even

that came with them. This has

risk assessments more informed

large institutions are no longer

given birth to a new kind of

and efficient. For example; by using

satisfied simply by serving their

industry – one built on APIs. An

machine learning technology to


API (application programming

analyse credit default risk they

interface) is just a way to get

could reduce their investment in

It’s no secret that financial

software or internet services to

vulnerable clients and increase their

institutions are using technology

work with your company’s systems.

returns on asset protection.

to improve their services and their

When you need a new way to buy

bottom line. However, with so many

something from Amazon, for

The banking industry is undergoing

different companies using the API

example, you don’t just request

a historic disruption as FinTech

space for different purposes, it

a shipping application – you also

startups redefine how traditional

can be challenging to understand

make an API request. The company

banking is done, inside and out.

each service’s impact on the global

can fulfill that request – send an

Payments are the heartbeat

economy. API Banking--the use of

email with tracking information

of any bank, and vital to their

an unstructured, interconnected set

about your order, or deliver the

security. Banks must get in front

of Internet services and businesses

product to your doorstep – because

of these changes and find ways

as a way to improve financial

it understands what type of product

to successfully leverage all this

services delivery--is one-way

you need, and has information

innovation. Although FinTech

banks are trying to create new

about your purchase via a previous

companies are moving quickly

economic systems that support

API request made by someone else.

to build technology solutions

a diverse set of customers while

and expand their customer base,

reducing their vulnerability to

While the financial industry has

existing infrastructure providers

disruptive changes in the financial

been focusing on increasing its

have not kept pace with this change.


transaction capacity and providing

As a result, they will need to

better services, local financial

dramatically improve speed.

There are several reasons why API

services providers have also

banking is becoming the wave of the

seen the need to innovate to stay

future. The first and most obvious

relevant in their local markets. And

reason is cost reduction. Companies

one of the most effective ways to

can automate customer support

do so is leveraging the increasingly

and other processes with the aid

powerful Internet of Things (IoT)

of an API, improving the quality of


service provided to customers while lowering costs. A good example

Due to the increasing popularity

of this is how Facebook keeps

and utility of APIs, financial

track of your emotions using an

institutions are now seeing a need

API, which allows the company to

to create better user experiences.

offer customised content based on your mood or situation. In turn,

The use of APIs and the integration

this allows users to have more

of machine learning and data

interaction with the companies they

science into financial services

already know and trust, making

hasn’t been happening in an inertial

them more likely to do business

way. Innovation is accelerating in

with them.

the financial sector because of the


Banks and payment service providers (e.g. Visa, MasterCard) are exploring ways to modernise their infrastructure to offer better customer experiences. In conclusion, the banking and finance sector is doing a lot of work to simplify their systems and make them more agile. Simple and open API-centric architectures can drive down costs, improve business agility and make systems flexible.




aserian is a mother of

transitioning the workforce of

employs over 36,000 gig workers.

two and has been an

offline gig workers towards more

It is projected to grow at an

independent contractor

accessible, competitive, and

annual rate of 33% in five years,

working on both online and offline

consistent job opportunities on

almost twice the global growth

short-term projects for about three

online gig platforms such as Uber,

rate, reaching $345 million and

years, and only receiving payment

Sendy, Fiverr, Upwork, Glovo,

with close to 100,000 gig workers

upon completing the work. Unlike

Fundis, Red Ant Directory etc.

by 2023. High mobile, internet,

her friend Taipei, she is not a permanent employee who earns a monthly salary and is eligible for

According to a recent report by Mastercard, the global gig


economy is valued at $193 billion

Naserian, like many people in

annual rate of 17.4% and is

Kenya, Africa and around the world,

forecast to be worth $455 billion

is a gig worker. The concept of gig

by 2023. It includes 40.7 million

work is not new, as gig workers

gig workers on various digital

have been in existence since time

platforms globally, generating

immemorial. However, with global

$193 billion in gross volume and

digitisation and technological

$127 billion in disbursements to

advancements, the idea and

gig workers, a trend that is similar

nature of work is changing. The

in many countries.

online gig economy has steadily grown and is transforming how people think about and access work opportunities. It is slowly

and is growing at a projected

Mercy Corps reports that the Kenyan online gig economy is valued at $109 million and

smartphone penetration, a growing youthful population of approximately 20.1%, and a highly unemployed workforce looking for work supports this growth. With so many young people looking for employment, innovation and adaptation in the job market are critical. Only 17% of the working population is formally employed, with a majority (between 15-34 years old) accounting for 84% of the unemployed. Despite the rapid expansion of the gig economy, there is limited research on essential financial Services for gig economy workers,


Abigail Komu Digital and Financial Inclusion Consultant

Gig workers have unique financial needs that distinguish them from permanent employees, including inconsistent and unpredictable income patterns, the need to access credit, insurance, savings and investments, payments processing

which has led to little investment and development of their financial needs. For workers like Naserian, several factors that can affect their ability to find work and generate an income. Unlike Taipei, Gig workers are not permanent employees of online platforms thus may not have access to benefits such as insurance, savings, and investments. They may lack knowledge of, accessibility to, and ability to manage these facilities outside permanent employment. However, this is not the case in every country, and some countries are passing bills outlining how gig workers should be treated. The U.K’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that Uber drivers were workers, not independent contractors. Uber now treats all 70,000 of its drivers in Britain as “workers” are entitled to a minimum wage, holiday pay and pension plans. This ruling is poised to have significant implications for the broader gig economy.

Financial education & wellness Fintech’s focusing on financial education and wellness help gig workers learn about, manage, save, and invest their money better by understanding their finances, lifestyle, motivations, and values behind their concept of money.

and tax requirements. Many gig

A fintech company called Power

workers are underbanked and lack

helps gig workers across Africa

access to resources that can grow

control their financial well-being

their financial health and wellness.

and relieve finance-related stress

Availability of and access to the

by building their digital financial

right financial services can help

profiles and credit scores and

cushion them during periods where

eliminating debt. Another fintech,

they have no work, given that many

Steady, is an income advocate and

of them rely on payments from

financial health platform for the

Gig work to make ends meet. The

independent gig workers helping

very nature of gig work, especially

fill the underemployed income

during the coronavirus pandemic,

gaps, defining an individual’s

has resulted in vulnerability and

portfolio of work in the Future

financial exclusion for underserved

of Work, and providing curated


inclusive finance. Steady lets users

The growth of the gig economy and Fintech go hand in hand. Financial technology (or fintech) providers are at the forefront of providing innovative solutions to address the inaccessibility of financial services for gig workers, especially where incumbent institutions have fallen short. By better understanding the different segments of the gig economy and their unmet needs within those segments, the following Fintech’s have begun to provide relevant and timely solutions that generate real value for a significant portion of gig workers. However, there still is room to develop more inclusive and

link in their bank data so that it can track their income across multiple jobs.

Financial account A key pain point for gig workers is accessing a financial account that meets their needs. Gig workers receive payments in numerous currencies such as USD, GBP, or EUR, which can be a cumbersome process to manage. Platform providers should work with many payment platforms like Payoneer, Wise, Skrill, PayPal, etc., to enable anyone, anytime, anywhere globally to get paid near real-time.

innovative solutions.



Another example is the Moves

cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin

their outstanding invoices by

Spending Account, an online bank

and Ethereum as a medium of

paying a 2% fee of the total invoice

account designed explicitly for gig

exchange by some users and the

to insure these documents against

workers looking for an easy but

launch of Central Bank Digital

delayed or missing payments.

powerful way to manage their gig

Currencies (CBDCs), e.g., the U.S.

Shine then contacts firms with

earnings all in one place. It helps

digital dollar, E.U. digital Euro, the

outstanding amounts on the gig

reduce the financial risks stemming

Chinese Digital Yuan etc. These

workers behalf to get these funds to

from the unpredictability and

developments could impact how gig

waiting gig workers faster.

volatility rooted in gig work.

workers would like to get paid.

Additionally, Fintech’s like Cogni, a digital bank designed with gig workers in mind and with features that traditional banks do not offer, provide curated financial and lifestyle services on their mobile apps.


Invoicing Paper-based invoices can cause financial friction, both for gig workers freelancers and the platforms with which they work; therefore, invoices need to be automated using technology and advanced learning tools such

Gig workers want access to income

as artificial intelligence. French

as soon as possible after the work is

FinTech is a mobile

done, which helps alleviate income

bank that offers a management

volatility. Fast and easy access to

platform to gig workers for online

payments is essential to keeping

banking with contract and invoice

gig workers engaged, happy and

management. It has an invoicing

satisfied. Pay-out options influence

feature that allows users to insure

gig workers initially to choose to work with and how long they will stay. As the gig economy grows, so will the importance of providing flexible payment solutions by paying people the way they want to be paid will also increase. Gig platforms need to find new ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors by using innovative payment platforms and services, offering real-time payment rails, bypassing slower batch payment systems to speed up payroll by 1-2 days. Additionally, it is important to note that payment systems are continuously evolving. Gig platforms must monitor global current and long-term trends and anticipate the impact of any changes. One exciting development is the adoption of unregulated

Filing taxes GGig workers’ pay taxes, and some apps help them determine how much they need to pay, based on the specific country requirements. Workers can use business expenses using apps like Expensify, which capture Track and generate expense reports, after which they can determine how much they owe as tax. Another option is the free Mint budgeting app which offers basic budgeting features and provides bill payment reminders


and customised alerts when over

employment benefits at all and that

investment suggestions based on

budget. Some tax apps, including

nearly 30% of gig economy workers

individual goals and risk levels

Track, use machine learning to

did not have an emergency fund.

and allows one to make the final

estimate and auto-remit taxes to

This means they had no savings of

decision. Betterment is a wealth

the tax regulatory authority for gig

any kind, leaving them vulnerable

management app that enables

workers, entrepreneurs, and small

and more susceptible to financial

goal-based investments. One can

business owners.

hardship should they miss work

set goals for, e.g. a dream home,

due to an emergency. Therefore,

wealth building, and retirement.

it is critical to have enough money

The platform uses Robo-advisors

saved up in case of an emergency.

to provide investment suggestions

Digit, Chime, Cowrywise, etc.,

based on these goals. Lastly, eToro

can help all gig workers build an

allows users to trade currencies,

emergency fund to cushion them

commodities, indices, and stocks.

from future shocks.

These are just a few of the many

Savings The path to retirement for gig workers is less certain as it lacks the predictability that is important in retirement planning. Gig workers in many African countries report that their savings are quickly depleting. Their families are drawing closer to a total lack of basic needs, i.e., food, shelter, and clothing. Therefore, they must set some money aside and build up savings for a rainy day. A study conducted by Stash Financial, Inc. interviewed 1,240 current gig economy workers and found that the vast majority receive no

Investments Gig workers often have to develop

investment options available.

their investment portfolios to


create wealth. The good news

There is a need for mobile or

is that there are many local and international investment and wealth creation and management options available today. Gig workers can invest in local shares, bills, bonds, money market funds, startups etc., and with the democratisation of finance, they are also free to invest in international markets. Many apps offer the opportunity for fractional investment, which means one can start investing with as little as, or less than, a dollar. One option would be investing via digital platforms such as Robinhood, which provides a commission-free investment platform. This means one can trade in stocks, ETFs, gold, cryptocurrency, and options without paying any fees. One can also earn a 0.3% annual interest on unutilised funds in the account. Stash works for those who are new to investing but need help getting started., It offers options for roundups, periodic investments, and auto-investments. It provides

digital lending products. This space has historically been home to predatory lenders. However, several startups have started introducing consumer-friendly products to help address this. Examples include Prosper and Upstart. Consumers without digital credit profiles have fewer alternatives to access credit, leading to a vicious debt cycle. Fintechs like Qwil are needed. It focuses on providing working capital for gig workers and works with marketplaces, payment providers, and human resources platforms to offer cash advances to their users. Qwil’s underwriting process conducts identity verification, fraud checks and assesses gig workers’ creditworthiness by capturing data regarding a freelancer’s invoicing status.


Escrow services


The Gig Economy Tracker reports

Gig workers are complicated to

pockets, sell assets or borrow

that Gig workers are accustomed to

insure due to their on-demand

money to cater to medical services

hunting down late payments from

and unpredictable nature, lack of

for themselves and family members

companies, with 71% noting they

structured contracts, and poor and

when the time comes.

have worked with firms that have

incnsistent pay. Many gig workers

paid them late or not paid at all.

do not have suitable healthcare

They often don’t have protection

insurance despite the high health

if a client refuses to pay for work

risk present in their day-to-day

done or cancels at the last minute,

work. For example, motorbike

and at times are forced to chase

riders who handle deliveries are in

clients down to get paid after

greater danger of being involved

they’ve completed the job. There

in accidents, which may cause

is also no guarantee of delivery for

permanent disability or contracting

the client after an initial upfront

diseases such as coronavirus due to

payment, which presents a risk to

constant contact with products and

them as well.

people. Zego provides pay-as-you-

Digital escrows work by assuring gig workers that clients are both willing and able to pay for their services. And for clients, digital escrows enable them to see if the assigned work has been completed to satisfaction before releasing the payment. Fintech companies like Paybase, Vesicash and Payscrow hold the money in trust in an escrow account. It is neither with the worker nor the client and can only be released once both parties

go insurance for drivers and riders working for sharing economy companies, including Deliveroo, UberEATS, Jinn, and Amazon, who only pay, via an app or top-up card, for cover for the hours they work. Health insurance has traditionally targeted permanent employees, with very few insurance companies providing adequate and accessible products to gig workers. Even health coverage systems such as the National Hospital Insurance

have given the go-ahead, which is

Fund, the nature of gig work may

excellent for both parties.

not offer consistent income to


Pilot programs can help prove that well-designed, tailored solutions are needed to meet the needs of gig workers like Naserian; however, questions remain on who should be responsible for providing these relevant solutions and to what extent. It is important to note that any innovation will need to consider mobile and, by extension, mobile money as its rails. According to the GSMA, there are 310 mobile money services across 96 countries, with over 1.21 billion users, some of who are likely to be gig workers. Africa, particularly the Sub-Saharan region, is a global leader in mobile money services with over half a billion accounts and ripe for innovation. For sure, the best course of action is a system-wide approach where public and private sectors collaborate to ensure the best possible outcome for the gig economy at large.

give yourself the power to be more


SEQUOIA LEADS $5M ROUND FOR EGYPTIAN DIGITAL BANK TELDA Egyptian digital banking startup Telda has raised $5 million in a pre-seed funding round led by American VC giant Sequoia Capital.

Global Founders Capital and Class

Users can set up an account through

“Both countries boast a large,

5 Global joined the round for Telda,

the app with their phone number

young, talented and tech savvy

which was founded just last month

and national IDs and get an Iban

population with a strong appetite to

by former Uber engineer Youssef

and Mastercard-powered card. In

innovate,” says Robson.

Sholqamy and Ahmed Sabbah, who

its first month of operation, the

co-founded Cairo-based ride-

startup has acquired over 30,000

sharing firm Swvl.


Telda has already become the first

The investment is Sequoia’s first

economy and allows Telda to

company to receive a license from

in the Mena region and the VC’s

provide everyone with access to

the Central Bank of Egypt under the

partner, George Robson, likens

important financial services so

new Banking Agents regulations,

Egypt to Brazil, where Sequoia

they can fully participate in the

empowering it to issue cards and

counts the giant Nubank among its


on-board customers to its app.



Adds Sholqamy: “This funding milestone promotes the digital transformation of the Egyptian


citizens, while maintaining the

of the Moroccan post office, has

security of their transactions.

launched the first dematerialised,

seeking to digitise and simplify access to banking services for all citizens, while maintaining the security of their transactions. The new card appears to be

Al Barid Bank, the financial branch

an attempt to build up on the

of the Moroccan post office, has

unprecedented rise in the use

Branded “KLIK Visa E-card,” the

launched the first dematerialised,

of digital payment services in

card is available exclusively on the

fully-digital bank card in Morocco.

Morocco during the COVID-19

fully-digital bank card in Morocco.

Barid Bank Mobile application. It can be used to make national and

Branded “KLIK Visa E-card,” the


card is available exclusively on the

According to Morocco’s Interbank

Barid Bank Mobile application. It

Electronic Banking Center (CMI),

The digital bank card allows users

can be used to make national and

the number of e-commerce

to make purchases over the internet

international payments.

transactions made by Moroccan

international payments.

in a similar way to regular bank cards. It includes a card number and a three-number card security code.

The digital bank card allows users to make purchases over the internet in a similar way to regular bank

Contrary to the majority of regular

cards. It includes a card number and

bank cards in Morocco, KLIK Visa

a three-number card security code.

E-card is not necessarily linked to a checking account. Instead, it can be separately recharged and used like a prepaid card.

Contrary to the majority of regular bank cards in Morocco, KLIK Visa E-card is not necessarily linked to a checking account. Instead, it can be

bank cards reached 1.4 million in 2020. The figure represents a 43% increase compared to 2019.

ONE OF SEVERAL CROSS BORDER CBDC TRIALS The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is encouraging central banks to take account of cross border payments at the

“This is an integrated service with

separately recharged and used like a

the Barid Bank Mobile app. The

prepaid card.

CBDC design phase. Hence CBDCs

“This is an integrated service with

currencies from other countries

the Barid Bank Mobile app. The

and the design of multi-CBDC

KLIK Visa E-card is an Al Barid

(m-CBDC) systems is an active

Bank exclusive, with fully digital

research area.

KLIK Visa E-card is an Al Barid Bank exclusive, with fully digital services,” the financial institution announced in a press release.

have to interoperate with digital

“This product differs from existing

services,” the financial institution

offers on the market insofar

announced in a press release.

France’s recent CBDC trials

“This product differs from existing

payments. On July 8, the French

offers on the market insofar

central bank announced a cross

as it targets both national and

border CBDC experiment with the

international e-commerce and

Monetary Authority of Singapore

perfectly meets the needs of our

(MAS), using JP Morgan’s

customers in terms of internet

Onyx blockchain to support the

payment, convenience, and

wholesale CBDC experiment. And

According to Redouane, the new

accessibility,” said Najm-Eddine

last month, France partnered

card is part of Al Barid Bank’s

Redouane, the bank’s chairman.

with the Swiss National Bank to

as it targets both national and international e-commerce and perfectly meets the needs of our customers in terms of internet payment, convenience, and accessibility,” said Najm-Eddine Redouane, the bank’s chairman.

strategy for financial inclusion, seeking to digitise and simplify access to banking services for all

According to Redouane, the new card is part of Al Barid Bank’s strategy for financial inclusion,

have all focused on cross border

investigate the use of wholesale CBDC to settle tokenised asset transactions 55


as a means to operate retail

de France partnered with Banque

transfers and paves the way for

Centrale de Tunisie for France’s

further studies between central

seventh central bank digital

banks to improve remittances,”

currency (CBDC) experiment.

said Nathalie Aufauvre, General

The trial involved a consortium

Director of Financial Stability and

led by Prosperus comprising

Operations at Banque de France.

Bank Wormser Frères, la Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie and its French subsidiary BIAT France.

Prosperus provided InstaClear, a private distributed ledger that was used for the transaction. The startup has been working


The experiment used a

with the Tunisian central bank

blockchain-based wholesale

since March 2020 to create a

central bank digital currency to

shared system that enables cross

carry out wire transfers between

border payments between North

commercial banks in each country

African banks using the central

instead of using SWIFT.

banks as intermediaries. Tunisia

The Board of Directors at the

intends InstaClear for use by

Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)

the Arab Maghreb Union, which

has approved the rules for the

consists of Morocco, Algeria,

interoperability of cash deposit

Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania.

and withdrawal services through

The ultimate aim is to enable

service providers.

The primary motivation behind this wholesale CBDC trial was to find a way of making commercial cross-border transfers realtime, more transparent and cost-effective. Particularly for Tunisians who live and work in France sending digital Euros to Tunisia. “This operation constitutes the first use case of wholesale CBDC

North African commercial banks to make transactions via the system. While the Bank of Libya was not a participant in this trial, the central bank is also a client of Prosperus.

infrastructure of service providers, encourage electronic financial transactions, says Ramy Aboul Naga

This comes as part of the strategy set up by Egypt’s National Payments Council, headed by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, to support the transformation towards digital economy. The strategy also aims to provide easy and convenient electronic payment and collection services for citizens, and would eventually enhance financial inclusion. This step comes as part of the CBE’s plan to increase the use of payment devices. Rami Aboul-Naga, Deputy Governor of the CBE, said that the rules adopted reflect the

NEWS FROM NORTH AFRICA central bank keenness to achieve the maximum benefit from the infrastructure of payment systems and services. It also encourages citizens to continue to use electronic payment methods and channels to boost Egypt’s transformation into a cashless society. Amany Shams-Eldin, First SubGovernor Banking Operations at the CBE, said these rules will enable citizens to deposit or withdraw cash with all payment cards or mobile phone wallets from all service provider outlets. They will be able to do so without being restricted to specific service provider outlets and the contracting bank. Ehab Nasr, CBE’s Assistant SubGovernor Payment Systems and Services, said that the new rules are expected to contribute to providing cash deposit and withdrawal services to about 70 million electronic payment devices.


“I am delighted that, after

generation virtual banking

rigorous scrutiny, the Central

platform are on track after the

Bank of Egypt has recognised

fintech is awarded a banking

the security and efficiency of

agent license in Egypt.

our platform and product,” said

The Cairo-based bank, on a mission to drive financial inclusion, has been awarded a banking agent license through Arab Banking Corporation Egypt (Bank ABC Egypt). In a partnership, Dopay and Bank ABC Egypt will build and implement a platform described as ‘a gamechanger for Egypt in terms of accessibility, speed and convenience of payments. Currently, 67 per cent of

This is through nearly 500,000

Egyptians do not have a bank

electronic points of sale (POS),

account, while 94 per cent have

which in turn will lead to saving the

no access to credit.

time and energy of citizens.

Businesses will be able to instantly open Dopay accounts for employees and other beneficiaries, and pay them in real-time, in accordance with

Frans van Eersel, founder and CEO of Dopay. “Obtaining this license is a significant landmark on our journey to becoming a leading virtual banking platform in Egypt. “I am very proud of Dopay’s team of innovators who have taken us successfully to this milestone and I am also appreciative of the support of Bank ABC Egypt. Being granted this license is also a vital next step to making our platform the foundation for delivery of many more new services to come.” According to Dopay, it also has extensive MENA-focused expansion plans, building on established and growing operations in Egypt.

the guidelines set by the Bank.

Its investor base includes Force

Each Dopay account provides

over Mass Capital and Dutch

a prepaid debit card, enabling

entrepreneurial development

24/7 access to funds. While,

bank FMO, as well as Techstars

enrolled businesses benefit

Ventures, Ace and Company,

from a secure and cashless

and the NN Group.




CBL LAUNCHES PROJECTS CONCERNED WITH DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has launched a set of projects concerned with digital transformation, banking system integrity, state financial sustainability, governance and capacity building. This came during the Governor of the Bank, Sadiq Al-Kabir’s meeting with a number of advisors and directors of departments in the bank on Monday. The meeting also discussed a number of files related to contributing to moving the wheel of the economy according to the vision of the National UnityGovernment, according to the CBL media office.


to serve the Africa region. We remain committed to

with Mondia Pay ( – a leading

delivering innovative digitalisation and payments

digital payment provider, that is set to provide

solutions that enable the natural progression towards

Ooredoo Algeria and Orange Tunisia users with safe

cashless societies throughout the rest of Africa”, said

and convenient payment options. Huawei device users

Simon Rahmann, CEO Mondia Pay.

can now pay for their monthly services, latest games, and favourite applications seamlessly on HUAWEI AppGallery using Direct Carrier Billing services (DCB).

Adam Xiao, Managing Director of Huawei Mobile Services in the Middle East and Africa, Huawei Consumer Business Group, said, “We are pleased

With over 2.1 billion global monthly transactions,

to partner with Mondia Pay to provide HUAWEI

Mondia Pay aims to provide users in North Africa with

AppGallery users in Algeria and Tunisia with seamless,

secure, convenient, and contactless payment options.

safe, and secure payment options. This partnership

This integration is a result of a strategic partnership

further cements our commitment to enable technology

that was formalised in September 2020 and has since

around the world and to provide Huawei users in

witnessed an increase of DCB coverage and IAP (In-

Algeria and Tunisia with convenient access to services

App Purchase) kit capabilities for global developers.

by Huawei Mobile Services.”

“We are extremely proud of our continued partnership

The service went live with multiple DCB services

with Huawei Mobile Services, and to bring Mondia

providers such as Ufone Pakistan, Vodafone Egypt,

Pay’s fully integrated digital payment technology

and Etisalat UAE.







eadership is critical for the future of nations, organisations and individuals. Much has and will surely continue to be written and reflected upon the topic of leadership. In my humble experience being a leader is essentially about unlocking individuals’ best potential and keeping and sustaining relationships that must absolutely work out for the benefit of the collective. In that sense, a leader’s role consists mainly of: Juggling strategic trade-offs while managing the “good chaos”, which in turn entails

Successfully striking a balance of diverse groups’ expectations and goals.

Considering the abovementioned terms and references, which should be a Leader’s main attributes? Irrespective of being a female or a male, in today’s world aspiring managers cannot expect to become respected and accomplished Leaders without demonstrating and/or training honesty/authenticity/humanity, communications skills and resilience in the face of obstacles. 60

“GOOD CHAOS” The “good chaos” refer to the many intertwined and complex factors a Leader must wisely consider. These factors can be defined as endogenous and exogenous. A traditional SWOT analysis is a useful tool to identify, distinguish and manage these factors. However, the important aspect to retain is these can either be endogenous factors, which are typically simpler to cope, and exogenous factors which can be more difficult as they represent events and/or circumstances beyond the Leader’s direct control. Why “good chaos”? It is crucial that a Leader approaches tough backgrounds with a positive, flexible and candid mindset. As it is well known, working in the context of a pandemic exposed several “new” challenges for Leaders. For instance, relocation of resources, acquiring equipment, adjustment of logistics, as measures to create

Recovery Plans). Moreover, Leaders were left with the “heavy duty” of having to adequately learn to mitigate the weaknesses and risks exposed by the advent of working in the context of an unprecedent crisis, such as social isolation, organizational cultural disconnection, family disruption, and others, which are in essence more human and socially related matters, and for which one-sizefit-all approaches are certainly less applicable.

“HONESTY/ AUTHENTICITY” With my teams we practice frankness and realism above all, “do not keep problems in a drawer”, I tell them, “not only that won’t sort them out, but will instead make them bigger and at some point, they will start to show”. Nonetheless, when a leader demands that level

the required conditions for remote

of honesty, her/him must also

work appeared, to a certain

inspire an equally strong degree

extent, easy to implement as part

of trust. “Problems and conflicts

of organisations/institutions’

will occur, its inherent of the human

BCP/BRP (Business Continuity/

existence and the evolution of


Helga Salvaterra Peres MSc Finance & Banking | Civil Servant | Brand Founder & Creative Manager | Global and Strategic Thinker

civilisations and societies”, its often stressed during our department meetings, “what makes the difference, is how we deal with them”. This, in my view, is where emotional intelligent skills are crucial. As both the “commander in chief” and spokesperson of a team, a Leader needs to exercise self-awareness and self-regard regularly. Ultimately, a Leader is responsible for providing the tools and guidance to overcome the challenges experienced by the team, thus she/he must be vigilant, attentive, supportive, confident, vulnerable, open, inclusive, and reliable. As a two way street, trust is a key factor in the communication process among all intervenients. While team members must feel comfortable enough to convey their ideas, concerns and feedback, Leaders shall also create a safe and responsible environment for honest dialogue to take place.

“BRIDGE GAPS, DON’T DIG HOLES?” As a Leader one is usually entrusted a vote of confidence to offer direction and accomplish a vision. In that regard, a Leader’s key success factor is its ability to manage individuals and teams of individuals, which can also be her/ his main Achilles’ heel. How to address this polarity? Important literature on Leadership states that understanding the problematic is the first step towards developing an effective action plan to resolve it. In my experience, a Leader ought to account for the unexpectant and the outliers. In exercising adaptive leadership and adjusting its practices to the challenges presented by a context increasingly marked by VUCA World characteristics, it is critical for a Leader to bridge gaps rather than dig holes. How can this be attained? An ability

to embrace necessary change without missing the targets, and a predisposition to foster constant and constructive dialogue with the different stakeholders, in my experience is a “formula” that often works. What does that mean, in practice? Turning, once again, to the working in the context of a pandemic example, as an event deemed of “low probability of occurrence and high impact”, Leaders are suddenly confronted with having to make mutually exclusive decisions. In this case, honest, timely and clear communication across the board is fundamental to i) avoid unrealistic expectations; for ii) readjusting key performance indications due to significant changed assumptions; and iii) prevent exacerbating difficulties for the groups already under considerable pressure. As per the above, in an ever and fast evolving world, socially, technologically, and fortunately also environmentally, the concept of Leader has clearly and necessarily changed as well. The traditional and oldfashioned perception of a Leader, as an unapproachable, strict, threating individual was replaced by the coach, contributor and champion change agent. Studies and experience has proven that this human-focus rather than deliverables-focus mentality is contributing to improve the organisations/institutions/ society’s quality of interactions, values, and development while paving the pathway for the generations ahead. 1 VUCA World Concept (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity): US Army College concept introduced in the 90s to explain the world scenario post-Cold War, and often applied by Organisations, Companies, Academic Institutions to explain complex and challenging scenarios.



IT Automation &

Leadership I

n this era of the COVID-19

Without a doubt, looking back

development. These frameworks

pandemic, safety measures

at technological innovation and

and platforms are referred to as

in the workplace or Non-

advancement, we can boldly

“no-code” systems. As a non-IT

Pharmaceutical Interventions

state that we have come a long

professional, you could do a lot

(NPIs), include avoiding touching

way in the area of software

with generating reports; either

items/devices. This is crucial in

development. As a software

structured or ad-hoc reports just by

preventing the transmission of the

engineer, I could remember

dragging and /or clicking a couple

dreaded virus. This goes without

learning specific programming

of buttons.

saying the importance of IT

languages (RichFaces, Primefaces,

automation in a workplace.

Google widget (GWT) etc.) to help

IT automation involves implementing software applications that would perform repeatable instructions or operational activities, thereby limiting human interaction with computer systems. More so, the importance of technological innovation in a workplace will continue to be on an upward trajectory because humans are in the quest of finding a better and asier way of doing things.

speed up software development on specific tasks I had. My focus is not on the fact that these development frameworks no longer exist, but to appreciate how much human efforts have been put into making things easier with each technological advancement. Nowadays, we see frameworks and platforms that help non-IT professionals to achieve their day-to-day activities (referred to business as usual activities) effortlessly without prior knowledge of software


Furthermore, having stated the advancement in technology and by extension IT automation, I will not fail to mention that this advancement has met with stiff opposition in most corporate organisations. One of the most important concerns of IT automation is job security. We all live in uncertain times where holding on to one’s means of livelihood is crucial due to the recent downward trend in key economic performance indicators (rise in inflation, high cost of living, etc.). As a result, staff for


whom aspects of their jobs can be

space is now fast paced because of

force who are key drivers to the

automated are often faced with

huge competition from new market

overall success of a corporate

anxiety due to the uncertainty of

entrants. Failing to automate

strategy. Staff should be made

not knowing what next if a routine

processes will mean late release of

to realise they are an integral

they have mastered over the years

a product and by the time it gets out

part of the company’s growth, as

is now subject to automation.

into the market, the market would

mundane repetitive tasks are being

have moved on.

automated away, they should be

While empathising with staff who face such anxiety , the damaging effect of lack of IT automation in an organisation cannot be over emphasised. Firstly, the

encouraged to conduct research

Henry Akintoye Lead, Application development Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems PLC

and high-order work, the type that will advance their career. Another role leadership needs to

fear of a second and third wave

play is the management of any

of the coronavirus pandemic has

resulting culture shock that may

been a major concern for every

We cannot totally separate

occur in driving the automation

government around the world. In

organisational leadership from IT

process. Staff members might

addition, mutations such as the

automation because they drive the

feel awkward not going through

delta variant of the virus likely

process. As we all know everything

their daily routine where they

means it’s a pandemic we may

rises and falls on leadership of an

have direct interaction or impact

have to live with for a very long

organisation, which means the

in completing an operational

time. WHO and other professionals

extent or lack of automation clearly

process. Occasional interference

health bodies around the globe

shows the corporate goal of the

on the process might be observed

continue to advise that the less

leadership of such organisations.

by staff that cannot help being

objects/devices we touch the

The motivation for automation

an on-looking of the automated

more we reduce the chances of

must be tied to a business goal

process. Rather than sanctions,

transmitting the deadly virus. For a

such as: to increase revenue and

re-orientation of the new way of

corporate entity to comply with this

bring down expenditure. Moreover,

working is very important at this

guideline, automation is the way

identifying which process to

point because the staff might be

to go in order to reduce/prevent

automate is very important in the

suffering from culture shock. Also,

human touch. A good example is a

decision making process, because

we do not expect this transition to

paperless office space. Rather than

automating a process which will

be a flip of a switch, structured or

carrying hard copy memos, letters,

not have any direct impact on

unstructured training should be

invites around for signing, the

cost reduction and effective use of

organised by the management to

company should invest in approval

human resources is probably not

help hand-hold staff throughout

workflow applications that would

a wise choice. Low skill work is a

the process automation journey

help digitise the process. Secondly,

good candidate for IT automation

so they can be culturally fit for the

an organisation that wants to keep

as this allows technical staff to

new system.

their staff and reduce staff turnover

make best use of their time.

must embrace IT automation. Leaders need talent working on strategic priorities daily in the workplace as opposed to drudge work that can be automated. Also, IT people whose companies keep them on monotonous work are more likely to leave - for a more innovative environment where they can grow their careers. Thirdly, IT

In conclusion, with the right vision

In addition, management has a

and strategies properly aligned

huge role to play in communicating

to corporate business strategies,

the importance of IT automation

process automation would be the

and assuring staff their job security.

first step towards self-learning

Communication is very important

processes where the system would

in an organisation because

be able to monitor and self-test

it’s a good way to disseminate

itself leading to excellent business

organisational mission, visions,

processes and service delivery.

goals and objectives to the work63


Wapi Pay Raises $2.2 million to Digitise Africa-Asia trade payments. This investment reflects strong

funding milestone:

MSA Capital commented on this

support for Wapi Pay’s value-for-

“These funds will help Wapi Pay

funding milestone:

users approach. Simplest, fastest,

diversify our products range

cheapest way for African SMEs and

and drive growth so that we can

“Africa to Asia is a large trading

businesses to pay in Asia.

evolve remittances into real-time

• Funding will help Wapi Pay engage regulators for licensing across Africa, and drive higher and sustained growth, • This non-equity pre-seed raise is one of the largest for Fintech in Eastern Africa • Build value for Wapi Pay’s existing

global cross-border payments, starting with Africa and Asia. All while minimising the cost of transactions, it needs to be as easy as sending M-PESA” EchoVC commented on this

and remittances between Africa and Asia. Making international transfers faster, easier and much cheaper. The investors included EchoVC & China based global fund MSA Capital, who have invested in domestic Asian unicorns such as Meituan and NIO, and international unicorns such as Nubank and Klarna. Additional investors include Kepple Africa Ventures. Existing investors are Future Hub, Gobi Ventures and Transsion Holding. Eddie Ndichu, co-founder at Wapi Pay commented on this 64

to support its growing trade volumes. We are excited to support with our extensive China fintech network and playbook.”

Wapi Pay focuses on the Africa-Asia

that is removing friction in an Africa and powering the circular

to scale up global payments

build the necessary infrastructure

How Wapi Pay Works:

broadening its suite of products.

$2.2 Million in pre-seed funding

believe Wapi Pay is the best team to

“Wapi Pay is an exciting fintech enormous payments space for

headquartered in Kenya has raised

underserved by tech today. We

funding milestone:

and potential customers by

Wapi Pay, based in Singapore and

corridor overlooked and

trade economy. As the symbiotic relationship between Africa and Asia deepens, Wapi Pay’s ecosystem of services will become increasingly critical to bridge and drive economic value between the two continents. We look forward to working with Paul and Eddie on this next phase of growth.”

remittance corridor. China-Africa trade jumped 27% to $52.1 billion in the first quarter of this year 2021 compared with 2020, buoyed by the recovery of economies after the coronavirus pandemic. Today traders have to endure high remittances fees of up to 15% of the amount, waiting period of up to five days, and are exposed the high risk of consistent reversals due to unmatched instructions, with Wapi

NEWS FROM EAST AFRICA Pay the cost reduces to below 3% and same day payout. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region to send money to and out, according to the World Bank, with the average cost of sending $200 being 8.02% of the principal amount compared with 4.64% for South Asia, the lowest cost globally.

MoU signed to provide an e-Commerce platform for SMEs and Cooperatives A Memorandum of Understanding

the solutions. The incentives

(MoU) was signed, in Port Louis,

and assistance provided by the

between the Small and Medium

MIDSC and the preferential tariffs

Enterprises (SMEs) Division

provided to registered SMEs/

of the Ministry of Industrial

Cooperatives would attract more

“Wapi Pay bypasses traditional

Development, SMEs and

SMEs/Cooperatives to register with

payment networks, optimising

Cooperatives (MIDSC) and the

the MIDSC while boosting their

efficiency and cost for our

Mauritius Post Ltd (MPL) so as to


customers. Users choose the

provide an e-Commerce Platform

delivery channels they want such

for SMEs and Cooperatives

as Bank to Bank, Wallet to Wallet,

registered with the SME

Bank to Wallet and Wallet to Bank

Registration Unit.

Seamless payment platforms such as Wapi Pay can greatly ease trade and investments, according to Ndichu.

options to transfer funds as well

In his keynote address, Minister Bholah recalled that the vision of MIDSC is to foster a transformative and pioneering SME Sector crafted

The signature ceremony was held

on innovation, opportunities and

in the presence of the Minister of

inclusiveness whilst its mission is

Industrial Development, SMEs

to provide technical, professional

Wapi Pay is in China, Singapore,

and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth

and managerial support to

Indonesia, Japan, Thailand,

Bholah, and the Minister of

SMEs through the creation of

Philippines, Malaysia, India,

Technology, Communication

an appropriate framework for

Taiwan and Vietnam — working

and Innovation, Mr Darsanand

business development and growth.

with local banks and platforms.


Wapi Pay targets to process

Through this MoU, the MPL will

economic activity, COVID-19 has

$500 million in remittances by

be able to offer efficient business

led to a surge in e-commerce and

the end of 2022, grow the number

solutions comprising e-commerce

accelerated digital transformation.

of registered suppliers and

solutions and marketing facilities

Digitalisation and innovation are

beneficiaries in Asia to 100,000;

including delivery services to

key for the survival of the SME and

and sign up at least 500,000

registered SMEs and cooperatives.

cooperative sectors, he added, and

merchants, traders and

The MIDSC will be responsible for

appealed to enterprises to rethink

businesses in Africa.

engaging with SMEs/Cooperatives

about their economic models since

to adopt and use the solutions

businesses and consumers that

offered by the MPL.

were able to ‘go digital’ during the

as make merchant payments, with settlement done within 24 hours.”

The objective is to give more visibility to the e-commerce

He recalled that amid slowing

COVID-19 pandemic have helped mitigate the economic downturn.

solutions offered by the MPL and

Minister Bholah underlined that

to the SMEs/Cooperatives using

in a bid to create an appropriate 65


the MIDSC has been upfront


in exploring the possibility of

Rwandese authorities have

maximising returns from the

having an electronic solution,

approved the KCB Group deal to

Group’s existing businesses.”

namely an e-Commerce

buy Banque Populaire du Rwanda

Platform with secured online

(BPR) from London-listed financial

payment facilities for SMEs to

services firm Atlas Mara Limited.

framework for business development and growth of SMEs, the SMEs Division of

market their products locally,

The push for bank acquisitions has seen KCB battle with Equity Bank Group for regional domination in

Atlas Mara made regulatory

the race for boosting their asset

disclosures that it had obtained

base to over Ksh1 trillion ($9.2

For his part, Minister Balgobin

approvals to sell its banks in


dwelt on the need to create

Rwanda and Botswana.

regionally and internationally.

a conducive environment to facilitate the digital economy and to promote a transformative approach based on opportunities, inclusion and innovation. He recalled that the MPL has developed and adopted an e-Commerce and online trading and payment platform. With its recent migration to

KCB Bank and Equity Group

The firm said it was awaiting

have been top rivals, battling for

approvals from Tanzania where

superior customer base and assets

KCB Group has also set sights

to grow market share which has

on African Banking Corporation

sent them on a trip of regional

Tanzania (BancABC).


KCB Group announced in November

The KCB deal came months after

it had signed a deal with Atlas

Equity Bank Group called off its

Mara to buy 62.06 per cent stake

plan to acquire four subsidiaries

in BPR and a 100 per cent stake in

from Atlas Mara Limited in a move


aimed at preserving its capital in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

the Post Global Postal System,

“The Company has secured

the MPL is able to cater for the

regulatory approval for the

The parties had initiated talks in

operations of different models

transactions with respects to

April last year, but the negotiations

of e-commerce platforms in

its investments in Rwanda and

targeting Atlas Mara’s units in

Mauritius, he said. He also

Botswana, and parties are now in

Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania and

announced that the MPL will

the process of concluding pre-

Mozambique dragged on until the

set up a special e-Commerce

completion conditions. Regulatory

pandemic hit.


approval is pending with respect

Furthermore, he indicated that its e-Commerce solution coupled with its network of 114 Post Offices

to the transaction with respect to its investment in Tanzania,” Atlas Mara said in the regulatory filing posted on its website.

and accompanying delivery

High rate of financial inclusion and

logistics and shipment

digital banking have forced Kenyan

facilities to 660,000 postal

lenders to look outside the Kenyan

access points across the world

local markets for growth.

will facilitate the exchange of physical goods between buyers and sellers and ensure payment electronically or otherwise. 66

Equity Bank then acquired Belgian tycoon George Forrest’s 66.53 percent stake in Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC)for Ksh10.4 billion ($96 million). The Kenyan lender had already bought 86 percent shareholding of ProCredit Bank between 2015 and 2017 and renamed it Equity

Mr Oigara said the transaction is

Bank Congo, then merge it with the

part of KCB’s “ongoing strategy

new acquisition to create Equity

to explore opportunities for new

Commercial Bank of Congo (Equity

growth while investing in and

BCDC) biggest foreign bank in DRC.



“Each time a fan is fully registered

company with a cost-free mobile

on SPENN, when using the

banking application powered by

referral code “espoir”, Rwf500 is

I&M Bank, has signed a partnership

contributed to ESPOIR Basketball

deal with Espoir Basketball Club

club. This is also an opportunity

valued at Rwf15 million to promote

for ESPOIR Club fans to show how

digital payments.

powerful the ESPOIR brand is. It is

The one-year agreement will be implemented in the 2020/21 season with a possibility to extend the partnership in the future. SPENN has the mandate to promote financial inclusion, by connecting the banked the unbanked population in Rwanda. Participants at the signing in ceremony at Amahoro stadium. Transactions that can be performed on the platform include sending and receiving money, opening a savings account with annual interest, performing global airtime

also a big step in the direction of

Under the agreement, he noted, at least 20,000 fans for ESPOIR

club will encourage all fans to explore the benefits of SPENN.

in marketing the SPENN product. “We have platforms for our fans


and we hope they will be even

Pascale Mugwaneza, the vice president of Rwanda Basketball Federation, speaks during the event. “The club has leadership and fans. We hope it will have more fans,” he said.

Rwanda Plc said that the Bank

partnership with ESPOIR Basketball

experience and will play a big role

Basketball club will register in

Manager of SPENN Rwanda.

He further revealed that the

SPENN users,” he said.

said that the club has 60 years of

Digital Experience at I&M Bank

solution known as SPENN Connect.

preparations of business offers for

President of ESPOIR Basketball club

to Norbert Haguma, the Country

the SPENN e-commerce payment

solutions and we are looking into

he said.

Manager-Retail Banking and

facilitates online payments via

offerings of simplified banking

Albert Tuyishime, the Vice

in-store and many more according

payroll via SPENN Business and

SPENN will ensure continued

and support professional sports,”

Norbert Mwanangu, the General

allows businesses to perform bulk

“The Bank’s partnership with

the country’s vision to monetise

purchases, bills payments, paying

Haguma added that SPENN also

four countries across the globe.

values cashless solutions saying that SPENN amongst the best solutions not only for their customers but also anyone in the market looking for convenience. SPENN was launched in partnership with I&M Bank Rwanda Plc in 2018 and currently has more than

better organised. The one-year partnership with SPENN is the first step towards a sustainable partnership,” he said. He said that the partnership will also improve working conditions for players in competitions as the club gains more financial support thanks to the partnership. The Vice-President of Rwanda Basketball Federation, Pascale Mugwaneza commended ESPOIR Club efforts in basketball development in Rwanda especially in raising youth’s talents. She said that the partnership between the club and SPENN is one of the ways to build the financial capacities of clubs in Rwanda.

300,000 clients registered on the platform and is so far available in



Equity Bank Rwanda in digital payment push

that accept Equity Visa Cards whether it is online, in the store locally or abroad when they have travelled, he added. Equity Bank’s Director Commercial, Jean Claude Gaga, says that the

Equity Bank Rwanda has unveiled

Hannington Namara, the Managing

cards offer an affordable and secure

a one-year campaign that seeks to

Director of Equity Bank Rwanda,

solution to the customer and will go

promote the usage of different Visa

explained that USD-Visa Gold

a long way in providing the much-

cards to pay for goods and services.

Debit Card is the first of its kind

needed convenience and freedom.

The campaign dubbed “Ikarita ikora hose: card that works everywhere” will see customers win exciting prizes ranging from household appliances, brand

on the Rwandan market and targets to provide convenience to the bank’s customers, who are looking to make online or in-store transactions in the USD currency.

“Our promise is to continue to give Rwandans more convenience, comfort, and control of their financial needs, by saving time and costs while carrying out

new laptops, shopping and travel

He said that the card will enable

transactions especially as we

vouchers as well many other

the Bank’s customers to carry out

continue to observe safe health

exciting monthly prizes from June

transactions in USD currency for

measures against covid-19,” he

to December 2021



The Bank offers debit and credit

Those to use the USD card will have

Salma Ingabire, Country Director

card services and is on course to

an account linked to it.

for Visa in Rwanda said, “We are

introduce other prepaid cards.

Equity Bank Rwanda will soon issue

On Wednesday, June 18, two new

Prepaid Visa Cards to its customers

debit cards were also launched.

and they include Equity Bank Visa

These include USD-denominated Equity Bank Visa Gold Debit Card and Equity Bank Visa Infinite Card.

Infinite Card, a premium card that gives cardholders free travel insurance that covers the spouse and children plus unlimited access

delighted to partner with Equity bank on this timely campaign to enhance the adoption of digital payments as well as inspire and inform merchants and consumers on the benefits and effectiveness of using Visa cards.”

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic,

to more than 800 airport lounges

Equity Bank said all cards issued

She said that VISA operates in

all over the world.

over 200 countries worldwide and

by Equity are contactless, a feature that shortens the amount of time that a customer spends when making payments in crowded stores such as supermarkets, hotels among others.

“We are excited to launch this promotion that has been designed to create awareness about the

15,000 banks. “We have data centres with

as the different benefits that

technology that makes payment

customers get when they choose

secure,” she said.

Equity Bank Visa Cards,” Namara

campaign is that customers lose

said, “This promotion will go a step

a lot of time going to the ATM to

further and reward those who use

withdraw cash.

their cards to make payments both online and in the store.”

POS machine and make payment

The campaign will educate

without necessarily being inserted

customers about each type of card,

into it.

the different outlets or locations


payment network working over

different types of cards as well

The key insight behind this

The cards can also be tapped on a

has over five billion cards in the

Equity Bank Rwanda began its operations in 2011 and is registered as a commercial bank by the National Bank of Rwanda. The Bank has a foot-print of 15 branches and is supported by 2800 agents, 1224 merchants and a network of 21 ATMs.

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Digital Banker Africa Summer 2021  

Digital Banker Africa is the premier, magazine and website that is trusted by influencers for its comprehensive coverage and analysis of in-...

Digital Banker Africa Summer 2021  

Digital Banker Africa is the premier, magazine and website that is trusted by influencers for its comprehensive coverage and analysis of in-...


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