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2017 will be focused on mobile payments, digital banking, Bitcoin, SME financing, data analytics, real estate and automation solutions. Interestingly, all these areas present an opportunity for the implementation of blockchain technology. Blockchain could be the most significant social and political innovation to impact Africa in 100 years. Arian Lewis, Head of Open Innovation at Barclays. African banks have been a bit late to the fintech party, but since mobile phones have made such a huge impact on the financial industry in the African countries, banks are looking at this continent to test out new technologies like Bitcoin and Blockchain.
To give you some perspective, MPesa, a peer-to-peer mobile money platform, owned by Kenya’s Safaricom and heavily funded by Silicon Valley giants has forever changed the way people do money transactions in East Africa. They provide merchants in Kenya to accept payments through mobile phones. GDP is now transacted through MPesa. Increasing penetration of smartphones in all of Africa is only going to further benefit MPesa and the likes in future. Interestingly, MPesa was founded by three Americans, who came up with the idea on a whiteboard in a Seattle basement, before bringing it to Kenya. African technology companies absolutely do not want this to happen again. You have a headwind from Silicon Valley and Europe blowing into Africa now around the disruption in fintech.
Mbwana Alliy, managing partner at African technology venture firm, the Savannah Fund. Peer-to-peer payment processors like MPesa and digital currencies such as Bitcoin are tremendously helping people transact money in Africa. This is a trend that big banks like Barclays are not only starting to acknowledge, but are also taking part in it. So we’re thinking, are we actually a tech company? To make that shift, you have to approach talent that sits at the front end of that change curve.