Fintech is one of the key elements in shaping the financial industry in sub-Saharan Africa with new technologies emerging and developed in order to facilitate the financial sector, and to break and change the competitive landscape.
This financial method is enabling new forms of technology to challenge the traditional structures by improving financial inclusion and drive innovation in other sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure.
Africa became the global leader in fintech developments and mobile money transfer services, stimulating extensive access to diverse populations. While east Africa has become the leader in mobile money adoption and usage, Kenya represents one of the most successful cases regarding the use of mobile money.
3 ways Fintech is empowering youth
Fintech can be considered a young industry for the fact that the basis of technology which the youth has been familiarized with since birth, making them the segment of society with the easiest access to it.
Although it was preferred that the older generation seek career opportunities in fintech – based on the years of experience they have – that has changed recently with tech-savvy younger generation being the ones needed to drive technology-led changes and innovation in the fintech services industry.
Therefore, fintech empowers the youth by offering them career opportunities and cutting down unemployment rate. For example, Nigeria introduces over 200 fintech standalone companies and several fintech solutions offered by banks and mobile network operators. Between 2014 and 2019, Nigeria’s active fintech scene raised more than $600 million in funding, attracting 25 percent ($122 million) of the $491.6 million raised by African tech startups in 2019 alone, following Kenya, which attracted $149 million, according to experts in fintech.
For fintech to empower youth, the technology must first be taught at schools, educating kids more about the different areas of application and how it has the ability to transform daily life.
Examples of such initiatives in Africa include Girls4Tech™, which is a Mastercard’s signature science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programme, that recently reached its initial goal of educating one million girls. They have a target goal to reach five million girls by 2025.
The aim of such initiatives is not just to persuade and help youth engage in tech, but also to facilitate the process of such an education through granting access to digital tools such as EdTech to learn. However, as much as online learning and other resources are needed to impart knowledge, there still remains a challenge regarding 800 million Africans who don’t have access to the Internet.
The Mobile money agent network of fintech companies like NOWNOW Nigeria, recruits money agents between the age of 18 and 35, who are paid for every transaction they make for people using the mobile app.
Fintech is also giving the youth easy access to online payments which innovates the digital transformation of countries.
“We are pleased to launch our digital bank in Africa with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),“ said Lamin Manjang, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria and West Africa.
In addition, the bank thought to enhance its services for youth by introducing a digital banking app, the Standard Chartered Mobile 2.0. And to make it easier for the country’s youthful population to use banking services, the app offers savings accounts, current accounts, fixed deposits, lending, and wealth management solutions, as well as zero charges on all inter-bank transfers, a zero charge on SMS notification and a zero charge on all Automated Teller Machine (ATM) withdrawals.
Fintech in Africa should be considered a game changer to the continent’s emerging economies, encouraging greater digital/financial inclusion among people of all ages and backgrounds.
Mastercard, Geidea team up to bring contactless payments to Saudi Arabia
Global financial services company Mastercard, and Geidea, the largest fintech company in Saudi Arabia by market share, announced earlier this week a strategic partnership agreement to accept Mastercard payments using a Tap-on-Phone solution in Saudi Arabia.
Geidea is the first fintech company to roll out contactless payments acceptance technology across the Kingdom, which will enable businesses to use smartphones as payment acceptance devices.
Tap-on-Phone is an innovative, intuitive, and cost-effective app-based solution that allows small businesses to quickly embrace electronic acceptance through their smart mobile or tablet device.
With smart phone penetration of more than 70 percent in the Kingdom, Tap-on-Phone has the potential to reach over 300,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and merchants in the first year alone.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a shift in consumer behavior towards digital and contactless payments channels, making it imperative for businesses to adapt and shift to a more online based model. We are therefore proud to partner with Mastercard and provide businesses with a relevant solution that offers the ability to accept safe, secure and seamless contactless payments through Tap-on-Phone technology,” said Abdullah Al-Othman, the Founder and Chairman of Geidea.
Presently, the Geidea network provides payment and e-commerce solutions to more than 100,000 merchants – covering 600,000 payment terminals and ATMs within the Kingdom.
As one of the many use cases, Tap-on-Phone enables more SMEs to accept secure card payments on delivery, in lieu of cash-on-delivery (COD) which is often the only on-delivery payment option.
According to Bain.com, around 62 percent of MENA online shoppers choose COD as payment method when buying online, compared with less than five percent in the UK and France. Cash conversion is key to developing a new payment landscape and improve consumer experience.
“Through our partnership with Geidea, we can help small businesses expand their ability to accept digital payments and grow their earning potential. The solution will also help Saudi Arabia to transition safely into a secure digital payment ecosystem, without the risks associated with a large cash pool,” said J.K. Khalil, Country Manager, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain & Levant, Mastercard.
Tap-on-Phone makes it easier for SMEs to use their compatible smartphones to accept quick, easy, and secure, payments from their customers for goods or services. It saves businesses money and time, because all they need to receive electronic payments is an NFC-enabled Android device on version 7.0 or newer.
Geidea also recently became the only non-bank institution in Saudi Arabia to be granted an acquiring license from Saudi Central Bank (SAMA). The license enables the fintech company to process secure, fast, and seamless end-to-end payment solutions directly to merchants.
Facial recognition for payments to reach 1.4 billion users by 2025
Contactless payments have been one of FinTech’s most prized innovation, silently growing in popularity within all types of commerce and shopping, with the pandemic skyrocketing its adoption across the board.
As such, facial recognition for payments is on track to become the new norm of payment methods as the number of users of software-based facial recognition to secure payments will exceed 1.4 billion globally by 2025, from just 671 million in 2020, a new study by Juniper Research found.
This rapid growth of 120 percent demonstrates how widespread facial recognition has become; fueled by its low barriers to entry, a front-facing camera and appropriate software.
“We identified the implementation of FaceID by Apple as accelerating the growth of the wider facial recognition market, despite the challenges to facial recognition during the pandemic with face mask use,” the research highlighted.
Seeing that technological innovation tend to trickle down toward other uses, all indications point toward the inevitable growth toward facial recognition for payments.
However, researchers at Juniper recommend that facial recognition vendors implement robust and rapidly evolving AI‑based verification checks to ensure the validity of user identity, or risk losing user trust in the authentication method as spoofing attempts increase.
Fingerprint sensors dominant, facial recognition growing
The new research – called ‘Mobile Payment Authentication: Biometrics, Regulation & Market Forecasts 2021-2025’ – found that fingerprint sensors will feature on 93 percent of biometrically equipped smartphones in 2025.
This compares favorably to hardware-based facial recognition, with just 17 percent of biometrically equipped smartphones featuring these capabilities in 2025.
“Hardware-based facial recognition is growing, but the ability to carry out facial recognition via software is limiting its adoption rate. As the need for a secure mobile authentication environment grows, smartphone vendors will need to increasingly turn to more robust hardware-based systems to keep pace with fraudsters’ evolving tactics,” research co-author Susan Morrow explained.
Voice recognition for payments growing, but limited in scope
In parallel, the report also found that the use of voice recognition for payments is increasing, from 111 million users in 2020, to over 704 million in 2025. The research identified that, at present, voice recognition is mostly used in banking, and will struggle to grow beyond this, due to concerns around robustness.
“Juniper Research recommends that vendors adopt a multi-method biometric strategy, which encompasses facial recognition, fingerprints, voice and behavioral indicators to ensure a secure payment environment,” the report authors noted.
Celsius wins best cryptocurrency wallet for 2021
London-based FinTech company Celsius has been awarded the Best Cryptocurrency Wallet award in the fifth annual FinTech Breakthrough Awards program which recognizes the top companies, technologies, and products in the global FinTech market today.
Celsius generates yield on crypto through its robust crypto-lending business and diversified deployment channels. Celsius manages over $10 billion in cryptocurrencies and is available in over one hundred countries around the world.
Celsius takes advantage of blockchain technology and provides a platform of curated services that have been abandoned by big banks such as high yield, zero fees, and lightning quick transactions as well as weekly rewards.
Users can also earn up to 15 percent APY in rewards on their crypto assets and access loans starting at just 1 percent interest rates. There is no minimum balance and with the Celsius app, sending crypto is as easy as sending a text. Celsius always acts in the best interest of its community, and rewards paid to users form up to 80 percent of Celsius’ revenues.
“Our approach has translated into more than just a crypto earning service. We are now a community of over 500,000 believers. Believers in blockchain, believers in high reward earning assets, and believers in achieving financial freedom,” said Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky.
The FinTech Breakthrough Awards is the premier awards program founded to recognize the FinTech innovators, leaders, and visionaries from around the world in a range of categories, including Digital Banking, Personal Finance, Lending, Payments, Investments, RegTech, InsurTech and many more.
“Celsius has a worthy mission in providing people with better opportunities to gain financial freedom,” said James Johnson, Managing Director, FinTech Breakthrough an independent market intelligence organization.
“We are thrilled to recognize Celsius for their success and momentum in this mission, serving as a true example of breakthrough technology in the FinTech space. We extend our sincere congratulations to the entire Celsius team for winning Best Cryptocurrency Wallet for 2021,” Johnson added.
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