West Africa Launches New Payments Digitization Agenda
In Senegal, 8 out of 10 workers are paid in cash. Most are temporary workers and excluded from health insurance. A survey revealed that 77% of temporary workers would be willing to receive their wages digitally if this gave them access to health insurance. These are some of the major findings of the publication that the Senegalese government has launched today, with support from the Better Than Cash Alliance (United Nations), the World Bank and the National Agency of Statistics and Demography of Senegal. Combining digital payments with health insurance benefits offers an excellent opportunity for social inclusion, formalization, and financial innovation.
Digital payments stimulate domestic production and consumption. If 50% of temporary workers in Senegal received payments digitally, 45 billion CFA francs would be added to GDP per year (around $80 million USD). Paying workers digitally, speeds up the financial inclusion for the population, boosts business competitiveness and increases financial system liquidity. To tap into this potential, the SME Development Agency (ADEPME) plans to bolster its SME support fund with $20 million USD (around 11 billion CFA francs) from the World Bank. This will be used to strengthen SME digitization initiatives and support digital payment projects for workers.
High-level leadership speaks out in support of digital payments for workers
Senegalese President Macky Sall and H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who serves as UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), have launched an appeal to fellow leaders, the private sector and civil society, inviting them to: “use this report to ensure digital payments are at the center of a sustainable and fair economic recovery. We look forward to jointly providing leadership on this agenda to achieve an inclusive and digitally enabled recovery,” the two leaders added.
To set an example, the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, also decreed, in late 2020, the digitization of payments for workers in the administration of Burkina Faso. When the COVID crisis emerged, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) took decisions aimed at reducing the circulation of cash in the 8 countries. These actions have had tangible impacts which are beginning to change the lives of workers and companies.
Digitizing payments and advancing universal health care coverage
While receiving a salary is often linked to health care contributions, globally at least 61% of workers operate in the informal sector without adequate coverage, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Indeed, in some countries, there is not always a legal obligation for employers to contribute to any kind of coverage for their informal/self-employed workers, which affects women more than men.
To meet this challenge of inclusion, the National Agency for Universal Health Coverage in Senegal has launched an ambitious digital payments platform. It has partnered with fintechs and private companies to link access to universal health coverage and digital payments – specifically targeting women. Flagship national enterprises such as the agricultural giant SODAGRI or SMEs such as QUALIOCEAN and Kossam SDE are setting an example by providing temporary workers with universal health coverage. More than 200,000 workers will now have access to quality, government-subsidized health care.
While 81% of national companies have fewer than 20 employees, on average hundreds or even thousands of temporary workers are employed in their supply chains. Employees are generally banked, but 93% of employees on temporary contracts are paid in cash. The latter are systematically excluded from the formal health system.
The successful transition towards digital payments
Three obstacles have limited the growth of payment digitization in Africa: the size of the informal sector, sometimes up to 90% of the economy; the historically low financial inclusion rate; and most importantly, 21% of African workers receive a wage keeping them below the poverty line.
This has all changed dramatically. Financial inclusion has surged since 2010 with the arrival of electronic money issuers and fintech.
The country’s largest employer, Compagnie Sucrière Sénégalaise, has successfully digitized payment for around 8,000 workers via a partnership with local fintech. “We wanted to digitize payments without using the banking system, which isn’t suited to some populations,” noted Claude Fizaine, the company’s Secretary General, in an interview with an African media outlet. “For employers, the benefits of digitizing payments include avoiding the constraints of managing large amounts of cash, and all the risks that distribution can involve. It also makes it possible to offer employees tools tailored to their financial and family situations, which can only have a positive impact on their personal and professional lives,” he added.
WAEMU’s innovations should continue to inspire the rest of Africa. Since 2012, it has been the continent’s engine for economic growth and stability. The examples of Senegal and its neighbours reinforce the ILO’s global agenda that could well make digital payments for workers a new global standard for promoting decent work.
Central Bank of Nigeria Grants Microfinance Bank License to Ten Digital Banks
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has recently granted licenses to ten (10) digital banks offering services in the country.
While these digital banks could be lumped as FinTech due to the similarities in their service offerings, they operate under different license categories issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). With payment at the core of these Digital banks, many of them would like to do more, hence, to pursue this aspiration, several of them have acquired microfinance banking (MFB) licenses.
Unlike the regular commercial bank license, the MFB licenses are a low-cost quick fix for digital banks. It allows them to accept deposits and provide lending services, the most basic banking services.
Investors King understands that a microfinance bank (MFB) license is the most commonly used license for the purpose of digital banking in Nigeria. The MFB license enables the holder to receive deposits and grant loans to its customers.
For many Digital banks, an MFB license is important, which has seen a large number of them acquire MFB licenses over the last few years. The MFB license also serves as a quick fix for Digital banks looking to offer some banking services but are unable to raise the ₦25 billion ($59.5 million) required to secure a commercial bank license.
It is however pertinent for individuals to know the status of most digital banks as regards their license before trusting them with their funds. This step shouldn’t be overlooked due to the fact that a lot of digital banks operating in the country today are illegal which can spell doom for customers in the long run.
Check Out The List of Ten (10) Digital Banks Granted Microfinance Bank Licenses by the CBN
Launched in 2016 just as a savings product, Piggyvest which is a CBN-Licensed microfinance bank has morphed into more than just a savings platform and is growing into a robust financial management platform with many products planned for the next few years. Piggyvest operated in partnership with 2 Microfinance banks and used their licenses. However, in early 2018, the startup acquired Gold Microfinance bank and its license.
CBN-Licensed microfinance bank Moniepoint is one of Nigeria’s leading financial solutions providers, formerly known as TeamApt. Moniepoint is a community-based bank with its services powered by Moniepoint MFB Limited, a Microfinance bank duly licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In 2022, Moniepoint MFB was also awarded by the CBN as the most inclusive payment platform in the country.
3.) VFD Microfinance
VFD Microfinance bank is one of the leading microfinance banks in Nigeria which is based in Lagos. The company is run by a highly experienced management board, with more than five decades of excellent customer service under their belt. The VFD Group Plc has stated that it will intensify its quest to obtain a commercial banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) before the end of 2023.
Launched in April 2022, Sofri is a trademark of Links Microfinance Limited (Links Mfb). Links Mfb is licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and deposits are insured by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). The startup uses technology to deliver superior customer service to its customers.
FairMoney MFB, a digital microfinance bank that is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provides financial services via its flagship mobile app. With Fairmoney, users can get a loan instantly in 5 minutes, from anywhere in Nigeria. They can repay on or before your due date with no hidden charges.
Mint Digital Bank is a CBN-Licensed microfinance bank and a subsidiary of Finex Microfinance Bank that offers unparalleled value to Nigerians by providing innovative solutions to businesses and individuals who require digital financial services. The bank also provides financial services to underserved groups such as low-income earners.
Carbon is a Microfinance Bank licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with deposits insured by the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). Carbon offers Nigerians better financial services through free transfers, high-yield savings, and buy now pay later at zero account fees and an annual interest of 1% per annum.
Kuda is a full-service digital microfinance bank that is duly licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Kuda offers users more than one way to pay easily, including a widely accepted debit card issued in partnership with Visa, quick web payments direct from their Kuda account, and location-based gift cards for shopping and subscriptions. From international transfers to on-the-spot payments at market stalls, the startup has simplified sending money.
Sparkle Microfinance Bank is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). All deposits are insured by the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). Sparkle is a lifestyle and financial ecosystem providing seamless solutions to Nigeria’s retailers, SMEs, and individuals. The startup mission is to help Nigerians fulfill their potential by democratizing access to valuable solutions for their business and personal needs.
Eyowo Microfinance Bank Ltd (RC838171) is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria as a Microfinance Bank. Eyowo unifies all the financial tools users need to pay, receive, budget, and save money in one place, also providing you with the safest card in Nigeria in partnership with Mastercard.
MasterCard Partners Stables to Launch Stablecoin Wallet
MasterCard has announced a partnership with an Australian stablecoin platform, Stables to launch a stablecoin wallet for customers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
The payment giant noted that the stablecoin wallet will only support deposits and withdrawals via the Australian Dollar at launch.
Speaking on the development, Stables co-founder and CEO Daniel Li stated that Mastercard’s stablecoin wallet will be available for users in the second quarter of 2023. He added that the stablecoin wallet will later support the United States Dollar, British Pounds, and Euro as well as currencies in Latin America and Africa.
While anticipating the launch, Li disclosed that stablecoin has the potential to improve the financial system. “Stablecoins will play a pivotal role in the new financial system and will be core to bridging the worlds of traditional and decentralized finance,” he said.
Li further added that users will be able to top up their balance using bank transfer, direct debit and other modes of payment.
Meanwhile Mastercard Australia’s head of fintech, Kallan Hogan said that the company is committed to providing innovative payment solutions that will give users the freedom to spend their assets when, how, and where they want.
Investors King understands that a partnership involving a reputable payment company such as MasterCard will be a positive sentiment, especially after the debacle that befell USDC. Recall that USDC fell below the $1 mark after one of its banking partners, Silvergate ran out of liquidity.
No doubt, this collaboration is expected to strengthen stablecoin and by extension, the crypto industry as a whole.
Benefits of Mastercard’s Stablecoin Wallet
The partnership involves the stablecoin-only wallet built by Stables, coming with a payment card supported by Mastercard. The payment card allows users to spend and save the USDC stablecoin by converting the digital currency into fiat and settling in the MasterCard network.
In addition, users can also top up their balance using bank transactions, direct debits, and other methods of payment.
ALAT by Wema Announces Call For Entries For the 2023 Edition of Its Hackathon Program
Nigeria’s digital bank ALAT by Wema has opened application entries for the fourth edition of its hackathon program, with the theme, “Hackaholics 4.0 ‘Re-imagine’.
Announcing the commencement of entries for the program, the bank’s executive director, Digital services, Mr. Tunde Mabawonku said that just as the bank is constantly innovating by refining banking with ALAT, it is also poised to help individuals and organizations to innovate to make the country better.
In his words,
“Just as we redefined experiential banking with ALAT, Hackaholics is at the heart of our innovative project for startups. We are poised to host the largest campus hackathon this year. As we plan the next eight decades of Wema Bank, we need to innovate and help encourage others to innovate. We try to get the best and brightest and give the country ideas on how to transform our organizations to become world-class”.
Also speaking on the commencement of this year’s edition, the bank’s Chief Digital Officer Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi said the bank has successfully disrupted the digital banking ecosystem by producing the first digital bank and creating unique experimental banking with ALAT. He added that the hackathon program has been driven by the mindset of innovation.
This year workaholics 4.0 was launched with a push to bring together 10,000 young innovators from across Nigeria as well as Africa, with a mission to investigate the endless possibilities in emerging technologies while utilizing its neo-bank proposition to significantly expand the student and youth eco-system.
The bank plans to produce 5,000 solutions, create six pitch centers, and have almost one million footfalls during the campaign. For this year, the winner takes home N3,000,000 First runner-up N2,500,000, and Second Runner-up N1,500,000.
To cover more grounds regarding societal problems, this year’s Hackaholics edition is expanding its scope and exploring more verticals, which include Education, Climate, civic tech, Insurance, GovTech, Health, Gender-Based Violence, Fintech, Financial Inclusion, and Entertainment.
Participants can be part of this year’s Hackaholics 4.0 by registering on the website, to Join a diverse group of problem-solvers, developers, designers, and creative thinkers at this year’s edition to make a difference.
Steps to follow
- Click register now on the workaholic’s website
- Input your solution details and information
- Input your team members’ details
- Submit your application and await your email.
Benefits Participants stand to gain
Hackaholics is a great opportunity for participants to learn and experiment. They stand to benefit from the following ;
- Grand to build/ scale solutions
- Support for product and integration
- Visibility for your team/ solution
- Access to community of founders
- Coaching/ Mentorship for founders
- Learn from renowned industry expert
Investors King understands that as a way of honoring its commitment to inclusivity, women-led teams will be given recognition and rewards in this year’s edition.
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