Within the theme of African innovation, Fintech is one of the areas which receives the most attention and the most funding. Of course, great change is occurring in other sectors, such as agriculture, which has recently gained success in prizes, such as that of the Seedstars competition, but Fintech is attracting investors, and creating a new future for many by bringing them into the financial system. In recent news, lots of funding became available for Fintech, with Partech Ventures Africa Fund seeking to invest over $100 Million in financial start-ups across the continent.
Cash has been king for so long across the continent, but that is swiftly changing, with many using their mobile phones to purchase anything from food and drinks, white goods and even taxi rides. It is also now easier than ever to pay people who are not near by, or It is not just payment methods that have changed, people are able to now receive a credit rating and access funds to develop their business, previously impossible. They are able to organise their finances, save and plan their funds better. Fintech innovations can impact society across the continent, by giving new financial solutions to the enormous variety of needs. From rural subsistence farmers, to the growing middle class, new financial technology can be utilised across society.
One Fintech company that has received major funding is Cellulant, who received $47.5 million dollars to help them expand the company even faster. Cellulant have risen to great heights in a field dominated by Safaricom’s M-Pesa. They work across 33 different countries with over 7 million transactions a month, worth $350 million! They are an example of a company that has been ahead of the trend. With the initial idea in 2002, they quickly began to expand into countries and launched their first mobile banking solution in 2008. They have continued to streamline their products to meet the demands of the consumer.
Mula, one of their products, was created to give business and individuals the possibility to make simple, efficient and secure payments. Ease and simplicity are so important throughout the planet, but for a continent with many people still trying to learn how to use the technology, this is incredibly important. With payment platforms like this, as well as that of M-Pesa and other mobile money solutions, it enables anyone to transact with anyone, whether in the market, a shop, or on the international level.
Tingg, another of their products, builds on this, providing an integrated hub of digital services to assist in commerce of all types. From blue chip companies, to the unbanked, Tingg offers everyone a way of entering commercial transactions. Users can send and receive money, pay bills, borrow, save, and even promote their business using the platform. What makes it particularly interesting is that it can be used online or offline, through mobile or a web browser and it is also easily implemented into other payment systems by developers.
Cellulant are already so big, they may not seem relatable for the new innovators across the African continent, but they offer great lessons. If you look at their timeline over the last 16 years, it is clear to see that they have adapted their offerings to fit both the needs of people and businesses, as well as utilising new technological gains in the financial sector and mobile sector. Even now, they have a blockchain offering, Agrikore, which is a market place system ensuring that everyone in the agricultural supply chain can do business together in a trusted environment. Cellulant have seen a trend in the need of agriculture to develop, and that people along the supply chain need to be supported, and used the newest technology to be able to do so.
As well as keeping up with new technologies, and understanding grass roots problems, innovators around the continent need to be able to adapt their ideas as the situation changes. Despite their size, Cellulant continue to keep up with trends and find the best ways to serve their target group. Innovators in every sector could and should do the same!
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