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How Fintech changed the game for startups

Yehia El Amine

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Fintech

We can all agree that this year has witnessed unprecedented levels of disruption across all industries and human activity all around, and the financial sector was at the top of them. 

Banks all over the globe closed their doors, at least temporarily, experiencing slowdowns and hiccups due to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

During this time, however, Fintech companies stepped into the limelight and filled the gap left by traditional banking due to their online-based solutions that demand as little human contact as possible.

With this, experts from across the board expect Fintech to grow even more, since many customers who leaned on their services during the worldwide lockdown for convenience, will continue to use their services in the foreseeable future.  

According to a study done by Netherlands-based accounting firm KPMG, global investment in fintech in the first half of 2018 amounted to a record US$57.9bn across 875 deals – a significant increase from the US$38.1bn invested throughout 2017.

What is Fintech?

Fintech, which is short for financial technology, is used to categorize and describe companies within the sector of mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising, and asset management. 

“Global investment in Fintech has skyrocketed from $930 million back in 2008 to over $12 billion by the beginning of 2015. Europe experienced the highest growth rate, with an increase of 215 percent to $1.48 billion in 2014,” a recent report by Accenture highlighted. 

Fintech and the business world

Fintech’s rise and emergence within the entrepreneurial ecosystem has completely transformed the way organizations do businesses; by turning the traditional financial model on its head, fintech has stepped up to give customers an easier, faster, and more convenient option than before. 

Setting up a new business has become much cheaper and easier to do due the mass availability of online financial services, and this has reflected greatly on startups’ ability to grow much faster. 

Fintech companies are more agile than traditional banks, in the sense of not having huge overhead costs and payments to make, thus allowing them to narrow their focus and attention on innovation and disrupting the market with their solutions. 

Smartphones and Fintech 

One cannot argue with the fact that smartphones act as the primary backbone of the fintech ecosystem, greatly thanks to the “always online” culture that we reside in today. Through constant and direct access to the Internet, and the myriad of services and apps that feed it, people’s behavior has drastically changed in the last decade. 

In light of these developments, there is an expectation of being able to handle one’s financial affairs as seamlessly as checking email or posting on Facebook.

Rapidly growing sector

In the U.S. and Europe, Fintech “ecosystems” have stimulated technological innovation, made financial markets and systems more efficient, and improved the overall customer experience.

According to study by Strategy&, these ecosystems — composed of governments, financial institutions, and entrepreneurs— have also shown that they can energize the broader local economy by attracting talented, ambitious people and becoming a locus of creative thinking and business activity. 

However, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are lagging behind, but not for long, since they are attempting to establish a more robust fintech ecosystem to nurture locally-grown startups. 

“Moreover, a consensus is emerging among governments and financial institutions that nurturing these ecosystems is important and beneficial for the region. Indeed, there are already some success stories in the GCC, particularly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where incubators, enterprise development funds and programs, and innovation hubs are supporting the creation and growth of local entrepreneurs,” the report stated. 

The Strategy& report highlighted that these ecosystems are critical to nurturing the kind of technological innovation necessary to make financial markets and systems more efficient and improve the overall customer experience.

“A vibrant Fintech ecosystem can stimulate the broader local economy by attracting talented, ambitious people and becoming a locus of creative thinking and business activity, since they enable growth opportunities for many other sectors,” it highlighted. 

There are a plethora of ways Fintech can help boost the startup ecosystem, and push it toward becoming more financially stable and successful due to the ease and convenience of their solutions and services. 

Let’s jump right in. 

Lending platforms

A little over a decade ago, receiving a business loan meant a visit to the bank, a truck-load of paperwork, complex applications, a lot of forms to fill, and a long wait. A lot of these startups failed to meet the standards banks set, and attempted to look somewhere else. 

Fintech has stepped into this role, with some allowing businesses wide access to get their hands on funding. An example of this can be seen through solutions that allow some lenders to complete the loan process online. Business owners don’t need to gather documentation because they can simply link online accounts to their application.

This gives lenders more insight and information about the company beyond credit score and owner stakes. In addition, these solutions are much quicker than traditional means, by receiving approval in a matter of days or even hours. 

Online purchasing

Credit cards’ fall from grace can be mainly accredited to companies such as PayPal and Stripe, who have allowed entrepreneurs and SME owners to accept payments, send invoices, as well as pay creditors and employees using a computer. 

In parallel, this is a saving grace for many businesses, since this unlocks the ability for merchants and startup owners to make transactions using credit and/or credit cards without the need for a merchant banking account. 

Even now, the smallest of startups has the ability to transfer and receive payments using mobile phones just with the right app downloaded. 

Never-ending payment technology

Many large companies rely on larger partners or affiliates to remain afloat, fintech has allowed these companies to transfer money to each other in the simplest of ways while conforming to regional and international regulations, making this monumental task even simpler.

This not only gets the money where it needs to be and fast, but also keeps these transactions and finances in compliance with anti-terrorist, banking and other payment regulations set forth.   

Check payments

Check payments are considered an SME’s worst nightmare, since sometimes it takes excruciating amounts of time to cash them in and get cleared, especially when these companies need a rapid surge of cash flow. 

The beauty of Fintech is that it turns this process entirely online, while making it faster for an organization to access their funds. Some companies, for example, offer a service that processes the payments overnight, so the business has money in its accounts by the next day.

This is ideal for landlords and real estate companies that tend to receive monthly rental payments.  

Digitizing bills

This is especially useful for younger startups which experience trouble in managing their bill payments online. Small business owners and some startups may have trouble managing their own routine bills. 

Thus SMEs might hope to delay payment until the due date to help manage operating cash, but at the same time, these businesses don’t want to pay too late because they may incur late fees, damage their credit and get a bad reputation.

Some of these fintech solutions include the ability to gather all their bills in one place, which offers help in managing these payment to ensure that they are being paid on time, and sometimes being paid online. 

The rise of Fintech has opened Pandora’s Box of financial opportunities, allowing businesses to offer more services at the fraction of the price. 

In retrospect, entrepreneurs and SMEs need to keep their eyes wide open on the advancements the fintech sector is evolving into, since they have the full might to improve their services and business, as well as stay at the forefront of their respected markets. 

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Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

Fintech

Buy now pay later services to reach $995 Bn globally in 2026

Inside Telecom Staff

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Buy now pay later

Commerce has come a long way in the 21st century; it has evolved from the simple act of exchanging banknotes for goods, to the current digital age where you can make transactions by a digital currency mined by someone on the other side of the planet.

Commerce transformed into eCommerce, and with it came a plethora of strategies, payment methods, and gateways that can give you the option to pay at your convenience based on your preferences.

As such, technology took financial services and procedures to the digital realm, and then birthing the popular eCommerce strategy of Buy Now Pay Later, that many have found to be go-to method of payment when online shopping.

A new study from Juniper Research has found that spending via buy now pay later services, which are integrated within eCommerce checkout options, including fixed instalment plans and flexible credit accounts, will reach $995 billion in 2026, from $266 billion in 2021.

This 274 percent growth will be fueled by a greater appetite from users for credit to spread costs, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, which has put extreme pressure on user finances.

The research identified that, while regulations will inevitably place restrictions on services, such as limiting charges or enforcing affordability checks, these changes will not diminish the appeal or growth of the platforms; merely placing them on a more secure footing.

The report recommends that vendors focus on improving the transparency and use of credit assessment and reporting now to minimize future disruption.

Buy Now Pay Later a go-to eCommerce

The new research, Buy Now Pay Later: Vendor Strategies, Regulatory Frameworks & Market Forecasts 2021-2026, found that, by 2026, buy now pay later services will account for over 24 percent of global eCommerce transactions for physical goods by value, from just 9% in 2021.

“As a tool to split the cost for users, buy now pay later is ideally suited for high-cost items, as it enables users to seamlessly split large costs into smaller, more manageable payments. By 2026, these platforms will increasingly become the norm for lower-cost purchases as well; driven by user demand and eCommerce platform integrations,” Research co-author Damla Sat explained.

Buy Now Pay Later to reach 1.5 billion in 2026

The research also found that the global number of buy now pay later users will exceed 1.5 billion in 2026, from 340 million in 2021.

In turn, the report recommends that eCommerce merchants must integrate buy now pay later services immediately, or risk losing transactions to other payment platforms which offer preferable payment options.

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SoftBank invests $60m in Malaysian digital marketing business

Karim Husami

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digital marketing

SoftBank and Axiata Group announced Tuesday an investment of $60 million by the Japanese company in ADA, a digital analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and marketing company in the Malaysian telecom’s conglomerate.

The investment is aimed at expanding and speeding ADA’s analytics, data and AI digital marketing business in Asia, Axiata and SoftBank said in a joint statement. ADA currently serves 1,300 customers in the region.

“Beyond Japan”

In addition, Daichi Nozaki, SoftBank Vice President and Head of the Enterprise Business Unit’s Global Business Division, will join the ADA board in mid-May 2021.

SoftBank Corp. Representative Director and Chairman Ken Miyauchi said the ADA investment enables his company to embark on its “Beyond Japan” business strategy.

“We will utilize ADA’s know-how in data and AI, and its support structures,” Miyauchi told a virtual news conference. “And by closely collaborating with ADA, I’m confident we can propose new digital marketing solutions to companies in Asia and help support their digital transformation.”

The investment is also in line with SoftBank’s growth strategy announced during its initial public offering in 2018, he said.

With the investment, SoftBank will hold a 23.07 percent stake in ADA, which has a valuation of 1.07 billion ringgit ($260 million). Axiata Digital Services remains ADA’s majority shareholder at 63.47 percent.

Japan’s Sumitomo owns a 13.46 percent stake.

Common ground

Also, Axiata Group President and CEO Izzaddin Idris said both Axiata and SoftBank discovered they have common ground, and that ADA could fit well with some of SoftBank’s existing businesses.

ADA aims for a $2 billion valuation in the next five years across Southeast Asia.

“We have no immediate plans to spin off ADA via a public listing,” Izzaddin said. “Listings are to raise capital, but ADA is already raising capital without listing,” he added.

ADA CEO Srinivas Gattamneni said the $60 million investment would be used to develop a big data platform and AI models focused on digital marketing and the automation of content creation for the advertising industry.

Miyauchi said SoftBank sees tremendous potential in digital marketing, digital communication, digital automation and security services — with digital marketing in Asia as a promising growth area.

The latest advertising statistics show that as of January 2021, there were 5.22 billion unique mobile phone users in the world, as DataReportal noted. This makes up 66.6 percent of the total global population.

It also marks a 1.8 percent year-over-year increase from January 2020. In this one year, the world gained 93 million more mobile phone users. If these digital marketing statistics continue to trend, we’ll be seeing even more mobile phone users over the coming years.

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MTN Rwanda launches mobile money FinTech services

Yehia El Amine

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Mobile Money

MTN Rwanda announced late last week the launch of a FinTech subsidiary called Mobile Money Rwanda LTTD, to provide and manage mobile money services throughout the country.

The announcement – which was made as the operator received approval from National Bank of Rwanda to launch the FinTech service – also places Chantal Kagame as its Chief Executive Officer to drive business development, strategy, innovation, and day to day operations of the company.

According to a statement by the South African courier, the setting up of Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd is in line with MTN Rwanda’s strategy to lead digital solutions while contributing to the national economic strategy on enhancing cashless transactions that offer convenience and security to all Rwandans.

“We are very glad to announce the establishment of Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd as a wholly owned subsidiary of MTN Rwanda. One of the key pillars in our strategy is to establish platforms that our customers find valuable. This restructure will ensure that the Mobile Money business remains agile, well poised for future growth and accelerated innovation. Mobile Money has matured over the last ten years in Rwanda, and this marks a pivotal milestone in our journey toward a cashless economy,” MTN Rwanda CEO, Mitwa Ng’ambi said in a statement when speaking about the new standalone firm.

In parallel, Kagame highlighted the company’s commitment to enhance the MoMo user experience and keep innovating products and services aligned with their digital ambition.

“The transition process to a standalone business has now kicked off and we look forward to cementing Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd as a key FinTech player in the Rwandan market,” she added.

The South African-based telco already provides FinTech services under the name of MoMo, a service that has been in operation since 2010. According to figures by the company, MTN currently boasts about six million subscribers.

MTN claims the largest market and value share in the increasingly competitive telecoms sector of Rwanda.

The announcement comes in line with MTN’s ambition to expand within the large African market, as the courier placed a bid to receive an operating license in Ethiopia, as the country looks to liberalize its telecoms sector and digitize its economy.

Prior to Chantal’s appointment, she held the role of Chief Business and Corporate Affairs Officer since she joined MTN in 2018. She is a senior Telecom Executive with over 19 years of experience in Multinational Telecommunications.

She has a track record of excellent achievement in areas of Executive Leadership, Sales and Distribution, Mobile Financial Services, Strategy Development and Execution, Corporate Affairs and Credit Management.

Prior to joining MTN Rwanda, Chantal was the Deputy CEO/COO at Tigo Rwanda for 3 years and Head of Sales, Distribution and Corporate Affairs at the same company from 2011 to 2015.

The establishment of Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd does not in any way affect nor change the delivery of services to current Mobile Money customers. Mobile Money customers will continue to enjoy access to the wide range of MoMo products and services, the over 30,000 Mobile Money agents and 60,000 MoMoPay merchants across the country.

MTN foresees an even brighter future to further expand and deepen its offerings to the public in line with Rwanda’s vision to become a fully cashless economy.

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