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FinTech is disrupting the digital transformation of banking in Africa

The 2nd Edition of Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 opened yesterday at the Radisson Blu Addis Ababa, where more than 200 international FinTech experts together with African pioneers, investors, entrepreneurs and leading bankers, gathered to harness the FinTech revolution to boost strategic economic priorities such as financial inclusion and deepening – and how FinTech can make a positive and profitable difference in Africa. The event also explored how the major banks and financial institutions on the continent are addressing the digital transformation of financial services; and how their own digital innovations are being shaped and accelerated as a result of the gathering momentum of FinTech disruptors.

FinTech players are increasingly becoming an important part of the fabric of Africa’s financial services ecosystem and the leading banks on the continent are now more urgently seeking to harness technology innovations, collaborate with FinTech start‐ups, and create a platform to scale much faster – to make digital financial services pay. Across Africa huge game‐changing leaps are currently taking place which are transforming economies on the continent. The impact of Blockchain, Open Banking, Mobile Money, Retail and Payments innovation are radically transforming the financial services landscape as FinTech disruptors intensify the challenge to incumbent banks in Africa and kickstart new opportunities. The unique environment for financial services in Africa is fertile ground for innovative FinTech players who are capitalizing on the opportunities to disrupt or leapfrog established business models to make financial services more affordable, accessible and profitable across the continent.

Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 welcomed a stellar line-up of Keynote Speakers, including Dr Bilel Jamoussi, Chief of Study Groups Department, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of International Telecommunication Union (ITU); Declan Magero, Founding Partner of Afrinet Capital; Mountaga Diop, Founder & CEO of Belcash; Andrew Takyi-Appiah, Managing Director of Zeepay Ghana Limited. This high-profile opening Keynote Session defined directions on Aligning the Role of Government Policymakers, Incumbent Banks, FinTech Innovators, Investors, Multilateral Agencies, MNOs and the Private Sector to Create a Dynamic Ecosystem for FinTech in Africa.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Yemiru Chanyalew, CEO of Moneta Tecnologies, SC, said that: “Finnovation is a Digital Transformation of Banking – Driving Constructive Economic Outcomes from the FinTech Ecosystem in Africa. Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 has brought various Fintech companies to a very different kind of event, a complete reboot, for a very different kind of industry – technology companies enabling the financial sector for digital payments This FinTech Era has brought 24/7 access of financial services to consumers. This was earlier limited to just the banking hours. There are a number of services that have branched out in the finance industry with the advent of technology. Mobile banking and digital wallets are at the top of the list. In Ethiopia, the focus is largely on facilitating merchant payments because the economy has wide capacity gaps across the various sectors. Moneta Technologies, launched “Amole” based on its digital omni-channel payment platform. By introducing Amole, we are enabling a sustainable e-commerce to other service providers to integrate with Amole platform for digital payments. Amole’s digital payment platform enables merchants and the bank’s agents with mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) to provide aggregated digital products and services (Digital Content) where our customers do their day-to-day shopping. This enables consumers to conveniently pay for their purchases, utility bill payments, person-to-person (P2P) transfers, electronic mobile top-up, Cash-in and Cash-out, among many other services using Amole or cash”.

Further emphasizing this exciting opportunity, Kidist Zegeye, CEO, MOSS ICT Consultancy, shared some persuasive insights while speaking on the sidelines of the Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 event: “Over 1.3 million customers nationwide use M-BIRR to conduct financial transactions from the convenience of their mobile phone. They are supported by a network of over 8,000 microfinance institution branches and agents across Ethiopia. The M-BIRR service allows people to use mobile phones to send money, topup, buy goods, pay bills, and more. Ethiopian Airlines, Total, and cable TV provider DSTV are among the merchants that partner with M-BIRR. MOSS ICT is proud to provide the technology for M-BIRR to 6 leading financial institutions in Ethiopia. The leading banks on the continent are harnessing innovative technology and collaborating with FinTechs like MOSS to better connect with under-served consumers, improve financial inclusion and provide a platform to scale much faster. Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 will once again bring together the payments, fintech, retail & ecommerce innovators from across the continent to explore the newest trends and showcase the most cutting-edge innovations within the industry.”

Another major highlight of Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 was the Leader’s Dialogue Live! session which presented a unique opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and first-hand insights in conversation with a FinTech Pioneer. The live interview session featured renowned industry leader Dr Bilel Jamoussi, Chief of Study Groups Department, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who stressed the innovative potential of financial technology in Africa: “The FinTech sector is driving disruptive innovation and transforming the financial services landscape across the continent. We firmly believe that the rapid growth in the application of financial technology is providing a platform to enable payments and increase access, helping the drive to digital financial services.” This high-profile session was moderated by well-known media personality, Colin Don Schouw, Managing Director of the Fixer Group in South Africa.

In-depth sessions continued throughout the day featuring bankers and FinTech pioneers deliberating on key issues such as Blockchain – from Hype to Reality in Africa; innovations in the African payments landscape; Finclusion; mobile money & retail. High-profile speakers included Tafesework Negussie, Manager Mobile Money service of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia; Bizuneh Bekele, ePayment and FinTech Development Consultant at DigiFinance Africa; Felix Mulei, Director, Business Development at Eclectics International; and Jane Zhang, Founder & CEO of Shellpay.

The post-lunch sessions at Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 were focused on identifying and engaging exciting new African FinTech entrepreneurs. The Tale of FinTech Pioneers in Sheba Valley showcased the exciting innovations currently happening in Ethiopia, including trail-blazers such as ICEADDIS, Gebeya, AmoleCoin, and featured insights from Zekarias Amsalu, the Founder & MD of IBEX Financial Consultancy Ltd.

The day concluded with the much-anticipated Wolves’ Den session, which again lived up to its billing as a powerful and ruthless session that enabled innovative FinTech start-ups and trail-blazers to real-time test the positive impact of their solutions with a panel representing savvy Investors/Venture Capitalists and seasoned African Fintech Pioneers. FinTech trail-blazers AXIOM Financial Technologies, Yeha Rooms, Motivation Hub & all made their respective pitches while the “Wolves” asked the tough questions and provided the illuminating insights during a dynamic closing session to the event.

2nd Edition of Finnovation Ethiopia 2019 is part of the FinTech Africa Series which regularly gathers leading stakeholders and influencers in the African FinTech ecosystem, from start-ups to banking powerhouses, from the key markets across Africa and internationally.

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