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Adebola Sanni: FinTech, Solution to Africa’s Financial Inclusion Problems

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Financial inclusion and provision of sustainable energy is at a turning point in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria. With a population of over 200 million, about 50 per cent of the total population live in rural areas, and only 39 per cent of those living in rural communities have access to electricity. This is in addition to over 40 per cent of the entire population who are financially excluded or underserved.

However, the proliferation of digital financial services in Nigeria – powered largely by growth in fin-tech companies – has catalysed an unparalleled increase in the current number of people with access to formal financial services, while further opening up opportunities to address power supply challenges across rural communities; a major feat instrumental towards achieving the broad Sustainable Development Goal 7. With over 200 fin-tech companies in operation within its borders, Africa’s largest economy has found a way to target and capture over 40 per cent of its financially excluded or underserved population.

In a conversation with Adebola Sanni, co-founder, Infibranches Technologies and the Group Head, Business Development & Partnerships at Swifta Systems and Services, she highlighted the growing awareness of the transformative power of fin-tech and how if properly harnessed can help address both problems of financial inclusion and the more pressing sustainability challenges in the area of affordable and reliable power supply needed to drive the growth of local economies.

“Fintech has increasingly provided innovative ways to address existing gaps in the availability, accessibility and use of finance particularly among the unbanked population. By leveraging the proliferation of technology, agent banking and mobile money solutions now offer affordable, instant, and reliable transactions, savings, credit across rural communities where no bank had ever established a branch. Similarly, about 75 million Nigerians who mostly fall within the financially underserved or excluded demography live without reliable electricity access as the existing electrical grid serves largely the country’s urban population.”

“We understand how pivotal the provision of sustainable power is to driving growth of local economies in rural communities and by extension the need to boost financial services penetration across these communities. These are both enablers for catalysing positive transformation and driving sustainable economic progress across the country.”

Adebola, a leading business strategist and technology consultant also said, “To address these challenges, we believe distributed energy solutions that leverage digital payments will open up opportunities to reach the underserved market at low cost.”

We partnered NGOs, including Shell Foundation, USAID, to extend agent networks together with off grid energy providers in 2019 where we set up about 200 agent locations across Nigeria, identifying communities across the rural and peri-urban regions with needs for both power and financial services. We also partnered renewable energy companies such as Green Light Planet (Sun King), D.Light Solar, Sosai, PAS BBoxx, Konexa to set up payment points necessary to expand access to highly subsidized power for such communities.

“This solution provides affordable home solar systems to rural communities with an affordable and convenient payment structure where beneficiaries pay as low as N500 (less than $2 dollar a month) which allows for people to pay off the cost in a year to fully own the solar equipment.”

Till date, over 400,000 people have been impacted across 22 States and 108 local government areas in Nigeria through various initiatives supporting energy access especially in rural areas. The addition of the ‘Solar Power Naija project’ by the Federal government initiative under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) and managed by REA, for off-grid communities, will further expand energy access to 25 million individuals through the provision of Solar Home Systems (SHS) or connection to a mini grid. This is a good initiative to help expand energy access faster.

One of the success stories underpinning how providing innovative energy solutions can transform communities is the Havenhills mini-grid project in Kigbe community located in Kwali Local Government Area Council, Abuja. Before executing the project, the Kigbe community with geographical limitations had no electricity as they were completely off-grid. The project upon completion delivered a 20KW solar enabled mini-grid through 3km 3-phases and 1-phase grid lines to 145 homes, enabling them to power basic electrical appliances such as light bulbs, fans and TVs. The project also supports 5 local businesses including a barbing salon, grocery store and viewing center.

As part of creating sustainable economic empowerment, Adebola Sanni, who has strong passion for financial inclusion and energy access, has facilitated the implementation of a pioneer digital infrastructure that supports micro insurance, pension and savings providers and the first API infrastructure that aggregates renewable energy products and services making them accessible to any payment service providers, banks and other financial and non-financial institutions.

She is vastly experienced in driving growth, creating market focused products and providing innovative solutions to businesses in Financial Technology, eCommerce, Telco and Private/Publics sectors as well creating partnership opportunities for growth.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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TeamApt Transactions Hit N1.4T In May

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TeamApt - Investors King

Nigeria’s one of Nigeria’s leading fintech companies, Teamapt said it transacted N1.4 trillion ($3.5billion) value in 68 million transactions volume in May 2021 on its agency banking platform.

The data sourced from the monthly report of Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF), an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to promote agency banking and mobile money in the country, shows that Teamapt controls 74 percent of the total agency banking operations within the period.

The company which is currently leading Nigeria’s agency banking industry provides financial services for the underserved mass market through Moniepoint – its financial access product, and Monnify – its payment gateway infrastructure.

At a media briefing on Thursday in Lagos, officials of Teamapt revealing more of its transaction figures and financial performance for the past months said in less than two years, the company has grown rapidly to operate the largest agency banking platform with a network of over 100,000 agents.

In March 2021, it hit a milestone of transactions worth over N1trillion ($2.4bn) for the first time. In May, the value increased to N1.4 trillion ($3.5bn) with 68 million transactions in volume, and between April 2020 and April 2021, the total value of transactions processed has gone up to $16 billion.

Speaking on the company’s plans to transform financial services in Africa, CEO and founder of TeamApt, Mr. Tosin Eniolorunda said “To achieve our mission of providing financial happiness for all, we started out by building working infrastructure and distributing this in every of Nigeria’s 36 states.

“So far, Moniepoint has served over 25 percent of the 48 million banked Nigerians, previously underserved by the financial system. This is a great feat but we still have a lot of work to do. Many Nigerians are still underserved, and with this pain not exclusive to Nigeria but shared among Africans, we intend to scale into more regions of the continent.

“We remain focused on innovating, and we expect that in the future, through Moniepoint, we will reach more people across Africa and build their trust in the financial system and processes. We look forward to empowering our agents with the facilities to offer other financial services directly to customers, beyond deposits and withdrawals,’’ Eniolorunda added.

TeamApt reiterated its commitment to transform financial services in Africa, the company was founded in 2015 and started out by building infrastructure for tier-one financial institutions.

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SEC Plans to Launch Regulatory Incubation Programme For Fintechs

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Securities and Exchange Commission- Investors King

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced plans to launch a regulatory incubation (RI) programme for fintech operating or seeking to operate in the Nigerian capital market.

According to a circular published on the commission’s website on Wednesday, June 16, it says that the initiative will be launched in the third quarter of 2021 and will operate by admitting identified fintech business models and processes in cohorts for a one-year period.

The RI program comprises two phases of participation – an initial assessment phase and the regulatory incubation phase.

The SEC said that the categories to be admitted into each cohort will be determined based on submissions received through the fintech assessment form and communicated ahead of each take-off date.

The circular read: “Review of completed Fintech Assessment Forms will continue on an ongoing basis. FinTechs who consider that there is no specific regulation governing their business models or who require clarity on the appropriate regulatory regime for seeking the authorization of the Commission, are encouraged to complete the Fintech Assessment Form.

The commission maintained that it designed the RI program in order to address the needs of new business models and processes that require regulatory authorization to continue carrying out full or ancillary technology-driven capital market activities.

It will serve as an interim measure to aid the evolution of effective regulation which accommodates the innovation by fintech without compromising market integrity and within limits that ensure investor protection.

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Finance Apps’ Deployment Rises by 160% in Nigeria – Report

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fintech - Investors King

AppsFlyer, a global marketing measurement firm has released the 2021 edition of its ‘State of Finance App Marketing,’ report, carried out across Nigeria and other selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report however showed that COVID-19 pandemic directly impacted how consumers interact with financial institutions and how the institutions themselves operate.

According to the report, Financial Technology (FinTech) apps were in high demand, experiencing a 132 per cent leap globally in downloads in the last two years, while sub-Saharan Africa saw impressive growth, with installs in Nigeria climbing 160 per cent, up 100 per cent in Kenya and rising by 52 per cent in South Africa.

Commenting on the growth of finance apps across Africa, the Regional Vice President for EMEA, in charge of Strategic Projects for AppsFlyer, Daniel Junowicz, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the adoption of financial technology globally and in emerging markets especially, finance apps helped millions of consumers and businesses remain connected. This trend is likely to continue and understanding how to best market their apps will be key to African businesses standing out from the crowd and growing their customer base.”

Junowicz added, “With this year heading for a record with total spend globally, reaching no less than $1.2 billion in Q1 alone, we believe that combining different types of marketing activities in addition to improving the registration funnel by optimizing and shortening the time from install to registration will give marketers the edge to utilize their 2021 budget to the fullest.”

Giving details of the deployment of finance apps in Africa, Junowicz said demand for finance apps became all-time high, where downloads of finance apps shot up over the last year. With 56 per cent of the unbanked population in Nigeria many are turning to apps to access key financial solutions including, loans 43.3 per cent, financial services at 35.6 per cent, and investments at 20.3 per cent.

“Nigeria’s Cost Per Install is up 70 per cent since Q2, leading to a spike in spend, especially in Q1 2021 when budgets almost tripled. While each of the three key regions have experienced growth in marketing activity in the last year, Kenya’s overall growth in the last two years has fallen,” the report said.

Giving key global insights about the use of finance app, the report stated that digital banking installs up 45 per cent, while traditional banks gain 22 per cent in 2021. Finance app installs increased 20 per cent overall, but financial services and traditional banking app installs saw only a 15 per cent increase between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021. However, only in the first quarter of 2021, traditional banks picked up speed with a 22 per cent rise in installs.

It said there was 3.3 times growth in the number of re-marketing conversions between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, adding that following a 32 per cent drop in spend in Q2 of 2020 in global market, efforts rebounded in Q3 and with rising user acquisition costs, marketers increased activity in remarketing, which soared 3 times by Q1 2021. Overall, the growth path of non-organic installs continued upward, hitting 172 per cent growth between 2019 and now.

The report added: “Demand for finance apps is rising across the globe, as 29 of the top 40 finance markets by app installs, enjoyed a growth of at least 20 per cent Year-on-Year (YoY), however it was the developing markets that dominated the number of installs. The average number of downloads in developing markets was 70 per cent higher than the average in developed markets, with India, Brazil and Indonesia making up almost half of the global number of downloads.”

Head of Content and Mobile Insight at AppsFlyer, Shani Rosenfelder, said: “FinTech experienced rapid digital transformation over the last year, with the pandemic leading to a shift in mindset even for those that have been slow to adapt.

“Marketers should strive for efficiency with their spend by following the rising Cost Per Install trend and focusing on user acquisition to meet new demand. Marketers should also explore more affordable re-marketing campaigns to keep their brand top of mind amid rising market competition.”

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