Africa is ripe with enough innovation to finance its future

by | Mar 25, 2021

This post is a delayed version of Techpoint Digest, a week-daily newsletter that rounds up major happenings in African tech. You can start receiving it hours before everyone else if you subscribe now.

Good day,

Oluwanifemi and Emmanuel here.

If anything would increase a country’s chances of attaining economic independence, it is financial inclusion. With access to financial products and services, citizens can quickly meet social needs and be well prepared for economic emergencies.

In developing countries, the focus is often on the statistics of the unbanked population. However, that’s for the traditional banking system to worry about. But the good news is that fintech solutions are gaining popularity, and their digital model ensures low cost, high-quality services.

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Data doesn’t lie: There are about 350 million unbanked adults in sub-Saharan Africa, and though innovations have increased in recent years, all signs point to the fact that fintech companies are merely scratching the surface of financial inclusion.

Don’t take my word for it, McKinsey Global Institute has some data to back it up. Read.

However, there’s Bankly, a Nigerian-founded fintech startup that recently closed a $2 million seed round led by Vault.

Remember I mentioned earlier how quick access to finance is a major factor in financial inclusion? Bankly, a three-year-old startup, has been digitising the traditional thrift collection system — mostly known as àjó or esusu — for Nigerians, ridding the process of fraud or distrust, thereby making it safe and location-agnostic. Details here.

Of course, we aren’t ignoring the fact that the majority of the unbanked population might not have access to the system these digital models work through — tell me about smartphone and Internet penetration.

Into the blockchain: While Bankly tackles this problem with traditional finance, Binance-backed Xend Finance launched a decentralised finance (DeFi) platform for credit unions in Africa.

The startup, based in Enugu, Nigeria, has since secured $2.2 million from Binance, Google Launchpad, NGC Ventures, HashKey, and AU21 Capital, among others.

The aim? To help credit unions hedge their funds against inflation and devaluation with the use of stable coins like BUSD.

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Wondering what stable coins are? Mujib Ishola, Head, Payments Technology & Infrastructure, SystemSpecs, and an avid crypto expert will be discussing its importance at 12:30 p.m. today.

It’s happening in other key sectors: While several companies use either fiat or crypto for international payments, Blueloop’s Flux and Afriex use the best of both worlds to fix the problems of cross-border remittances saving money (from transaction fees) and time.

Trust me, these solutions will save a lot of money in the long run. Jolt your memory with this.

Try not to miss out on this conversation on international payments from the CEOs of Blueloop, Xend Finance, and Bitmama (one of Nigeria’s earliest crypto exchanges).

Across the globe, most kinds of innovation are seeing a blockchain equivalent. It is changing the future of investment, activism a la #EndSARS, and it is presenting fresh headaches for security experts and regulators.

Yes, regulations: The problems innovations like social media pose for policymakers seem like child’s play when compared to digital currencies. Should they be regulated? If yes, how? If no, why not?

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) crypto ban and the regulatory statement by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are a bit of a puzzle. Let’s make sense of this together at the Techpoint Digital Currency Summit 2021. It’s not too late.

Other news you don’t want to miss

  • You can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin. Elon said it.
  • A Third of Nigeria’s 204m Internet Subscribers live in Lagos, Ogun, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Kano. We’re shocked.
  • YC’s Michael Seibel on African startups and the Silicon Valley accelerator. Read.

Have a great day!
Oluwanifemi Kolawole & Emmanuel Paul for Techpoint Africa.

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