The fintech ecosystem is growing in Africa. Almost one-third of funding raised by African startups in 2017 was in that specific sector (where just 17% of the population have banking accounts). Last year venture funding for African startups increased by 51% reaching $195 million, according to a report from Disrupt Africa. We have compiled a list of seven promising African startups offering cash management, lending, credit assessment, conversational agent, savings and payment services.
While South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya remain at the forefront of startup activity in the fintech sector, as with many other areas, research shows that a number of other local fintech ecosystems are beginning to emerge.
Piggybank.ng is an online savings platform that enables savers to put away funds without being able to withdraw easily, helping people reach their savings targets with the app through a combination of discipline and flexibility. Users can save as little as $1 a day and then restrict when they withdraw their savings to specific set dates they choose. Piggybankers can earn on average 6% per annum on automated savings or 10.95% per annum on the fixed deposit product, Safelock, and can withdraw funds for free once per quarter.
The Ivorian edition of the most recent Seedstars startup competition was won by fintech firm Cinetpay. CinetPay is a mobile money payment hub that federates mobile money payment methods in Africa and allows online and offline merchants to accept mobile money and card payments. Cinetpay won the Côte d’Ivoire round of Seedstars World and will be representing the country at the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland to compete for up to USD 1 million in equity investment alongside other prizes.
BitPesa is a pan-African platform redefining how businesses make payments to and from sub-Saharan Africa. Focused on using cutting-edge blockchain technology to increase efficiency across markets, BitPesa opens corridors for business payments and trade between Africa and the rest of the world. Unsurprisingly, Kenyan-based BitPesa is the most recognisable of the African startups with its blockchain business payments now serving 6,000 customers across over 85 countries.
Fintech startup MaTonine was the winner in last year’s Seedstars Dakar competition, thanks to their digital take on a traditional savings tool. MaTontine provides financial services through the digitization of traditional, centuries-old, peer-to-peer savings circles, known as Tontines, which remain a popular way to save money in Senegal. To date, MaTontine has launched a nationwide pilot with the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), aiming to roll out innovative solutions that accelerate the way innovation improves and expands financial services for low-income populations in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ugandan fintech startup Numida was declared winner of the Kampala leg of the Seedstars World competition in 2017. The startup has seen successful monthly growth since March of last year, and has disbursed hundreds of small business loans to clients, boasting a 99 percent repayment rate. Small businesses use the Numida mobile app to keep track of their financial records, and Numida uses the cash flow and behavioural data collected in the app to then issue appropriately sized unsecured loans.
Founded in 2013 and originally based in Cape Town, Yoco is aimed at delivering smart technology that is able to accept payments, and using this payments data to offer insights and automation to SMEs. Yoco launched its new point-of-sale app that runs on both smartphones and tablets and has over 25,000 customers.
In June 2017 Yoco was named one of the “250 top private companies changing the face of financial services around the world” in the Fintech 250 report by researchers CB Insight.
M-Pesa in Kenya was rolled out by Safaricom, which by customer numbers was the largest mobile service provider in East Africa’s largest economy. M-Pesa allows users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services easily with a mobile device. The service allows users to deposit money into an account stored on their cell phones, to send balances using PIN-secured SMS text messages to other users, including sellers of goods and services, and to redeem deposits for regular money. Users are charged a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service.