FinTech in Africa: The amazing transformation!

Some people instinctively conjure up images of a nation devastated by famine and civil turmoil when they hear the word, Africa. The first and most important thing to remember about Africa is that it is a continent rather than a country. Africa is at the vanguard of a FinTech revolution that many people are either ignorant of or haven't taken the time to observe. 

Despite the fact that it is the home of unicorns, this company's capital has increased ninefold in just the preceding five years, with a total market capitalization of $5 billion in 2021, more than double that in 2020. In fact, financial technology enterprises account for five out of every seven African unicorns, and there are a number of other organizations that are on the verge of becoming unicorns, such as Kuda Bank, that are currently prospering in their respective industries. 

An initial public offering (IPO) valued at US$501 million was completed in 2021, resulting in a US$54.5 million Series B financing for the challenger bank with a focus on Nigeria. One aspect of African FinTech that I love is that it is unique from what is already accessible abroad. There is a strong emphasis in every area of it on making a connection and payment services available to individuals who did not previously have access to such services.

It is fantastic to witness the acceptance, use, and innovation in Fintech throughout African countries, and because they did not have a lot of financial automation previously, these countries are the ones to keep an eye on when the next wave of FinTech leadership arises. And that, in my opinion, is the key to unlocking the door. Due to the massive increase in financial inclusion in Africa as a result of the work of companies like Opay, Flutterwave, and its contemporaries, banks are finding that they no longer need their services. 

All they require is a telephone to communicate. In the meantime, what are the identities of the five unicorns that you mentioned?

Top fintech unicorns on the African continent, according to Forbes!

1. It's a mess (Egypt)

US$2 billion or more is estimated to be the market worth.

Despite the fact that Fawry is a publicly-traded company, it is not a unicorn in the technical sense of the phrase (since it is also a publicly traded corporation, as opposed to unicorns, which are often firms with a valuation of $1 billion or more). It is still considered to be one of the greatest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Additionally, the company offers a broad variety of B2B and B2C payment services and is publicly listed on the EGX, with a market value of around US$1.5 billion as of the 6th of October.

2. OPay (Nigeria)

The company is valued at US$2 billion.

Following an investment round lead by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 in August of this year, which garnered US$402.2 million for the company, OPay has climbed to the status of a unicorn. As a consequence of the round, the company's market capitalization grew to US$2 billion. Through OPay, it also served as SoftBank's first foray into the African continent.

When it comes to mobile money (which is a large fintech market in Africa), OPay offers a solution that incorporates physical debit cards as well as an offline banking solution and savings possibilities.

3. Wave (Senegal)

The company was valued at US$1.7 billion.

With the acquisition of Wave, Africa's first financial unicorn, the continent's other fintech unicorns have increased in number. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company was valued at US$1.7 billion after obtaining US$203.5 million in a Series A financing round in September of this year.

Companies such as Sequoia Capital, the Founders Fund, Stripe, and Ribbit Capital are just a few of the worldwide behemoths that have invested in the company. Wave also offers a mobile money service that enables clients to make deposits and withdrawals, as well as transfers and bill payments, via their smartphones.

4. Flutterwave (San Francisco)

Estimated value: US$1 billion or more

Flutterwave, a supplier of payment infrastructure, raised $170.5 million dollars in the company's Series C fundraising round, which took place in March of the current year. A valuation of US$1 billion was reached at the conclusion of the financing round, propelling the company to the status of a unicorn.

A spate of collaborations, including ones with the MTN Group, 9PSB, and Currencycloud, among other firms, have been announced by Flutterwave.

5. Interswitch (Nigeria)

US$1 billion is the estimated value.

Known as a digital payments provider, Interswitch creates solutions for a wide range of requirements, including transactions, collection and disbursement, card issuing, and other related services and requirements.

Following Visa's acquisition of a minority stake in the company in 2019, the company was valued at US$1 billion, earning it the title of "uniquely valuable unicorn." The sale, which involved a 20 percent share in the firm, was reportedly valued at US$200 million. Company officials have said that they intend to go public in the first half of 2020, but those plans have not materialized as of this writing.

The Bottom Line

There are also important developments taking on across Africa, such as the implementation of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System, which is scheduled to begin in 2022. (PAPSS). Because it would enable greater cross-border trade and commerce inside Africa, it is projected that the system, which was designed by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), will save the continent more than $5 billion per year in transaction expenses. 

Important market infrastructure is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was established formally a year ago to promote closer economic integration and the creation of a single market throughout Africa. More information may be found in Joy MacKnight's piece on The Banker, which can be accessed here.


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