Llewellyn le Hané
Money is dangerous: it’s bulky, smelly and dirty. Processing and getting the money from a shop, restaurant, café or any other place of business to the bank to be deposited can be a security nightmare and leaves business owners looking over their shoulder.
In the year 2019, handling cash money really isn’t and shouldn’t be necessary. There are countless payment solutions. There are cards to swipe, there are cards that allow you to pay with credit and debit, and you probably have one or two store cards as well. These are all forms of cashless payment solutions, however the fintech sector continues to develop and innovate.
If you look at your phone, you may already have some cashless forms of payment on there like Paypal, but even your banking app or money transferring SMS solution is a form of fintech.
What we are seeing across the world and especially in Africa is the revolution of micro-transactions and payments; ways in which people can pay for goods and services using their phones and not handling physical money. Sometimes these forms of transactions don’t even require the person to have a bank account, thereby allowing potentially the hundreds of millions of people that are unbanked to start taking part in the economy.
Most people would be very surprised to know that when it comes to fintech, the centre of the world is not the USA or Europe; it is Africa. There are several reasons why Fintech is so big and developing so quickly in Africa, and Namibia really needs to focus on being part of this development. The investment and innovation in fintech and the people who embrace it and the companies that create it, are a positive driving force behind change in Africa.
Mobile money application adoption in sub-Saharan Africa is truly spectacular, partly because of the leapfrogging phenomenon where people in the developing world leap over obsolete technologies and straight onto the latest tech. But in the case of fintech in Africa, it’s also because the cost of mobile phones has dropped rapidly over the last couple of years, creating a boom in ownership. There are more people with mobile money accounts than people with physical bank accounts. This is quite something to wrap your head around and it has left conventional bricks-and-mortar banks struggling to keep up.
According to estimates, ownership is set to rise exponentially, which is good news for consumers and businesses. All these mobile owners with fintech money accounts, plus the huge untapped potential inherent in Africa’s young population reaching maturity, are driving a new and exciting boom in tech start-ups.
This has led to huge investments in start-ups right here on the continent with eye-watering amounts being pledged to develop fintech solutions that are tailor-made for the African market. Investors across the world are beginning to wake up to the potential in Africa and not only does that mean big wins for the start-ups, but positive change for people across the continent.
We often think everything from the West is amazing and innovative and forget that we have our own brilliant people on this continent. Africans are finding solutions to assist the unbanked who face huge challenges in accessing utilities, services and the basics of life. But they also face the security risk of carrying around lots of cash.