There is still space for more startups to launch within the African fintech space given the constant changes it is seeing and the increasing focus of government’s on e-payments.
A number of African fintech startups have sprung up over the last few years, while there are also a number of new accelerators and VC funds specifically targeting innovations in this space, but according to the panellists there is still room for more companies to enter the scene.
Bunmi Akinyemiju, chief executive officer (CEO) of Venture Garden Group, a holding company for a group of different fintech entities, said there was lots of room for “green startups” to come in and innovate given the speed with which the sector is developing.
“Point of sale (PoS) is changing very fast, especially on mobile, giving the merchant options to make more money. We think with time there will be a person on every corner of the street with an agent, for you to be able to do business the old way, but in a way that is very effective and innovative,” he said.
This view was shared by Saqib Nazir, CEO of electronic payments platform Interpay Africa, who said there was still a relatively small number of startups operating in the space, while governments were also increasingly pushing electronic payments to citizens, meaning the ecosystem would grow further.
For Vahid Monadjem, CEO of South Africa-based enterprise payments platform provider Nomanini, it is the “virgin” nature of the space that means there is definitely room for more players.
“We need more collaborations to grow because our services are quite unique from each other,” he said.
The need for collaboration was also stressed by other panellists, with Akinyemiju saying partnerships would be key to innovations.
“It is about trust and if it is so fragmented as it it now it limits the success rates. The other side is you need to pay from various sources, so the coexistence of these players being able to communicate with their systems fosters the ecosystem because transactions happen on different platforms,” he said.
“Therefore the innovation really needs to be driven by collaboration so a consumer can trust all the interrelated systems.”
Akinyemiju said in the future he think there will be democratised access to financial services powered by mobile, while he also expects an African fintech startup to become a unicorn.
“We mostly think about the consumer side but there is a big space for B2B and we would like to see more innovations coming up in these areas,” he said.
Nazir expects developments in airtime topups and person-to-person transactions, saying the opportunity is in small transactions.
“Creating a solution for people to accept payments quickly to enable transactions and commerce to happen. That is where we see the trends,” he said.
“A lot of payments are already in digital format, especially remittances. The challenge is in the transactions from person-to-person and the daily demands of commerce, Most of them are in cash and getting it into digital is a growing area.”