Africa has historically been the continent with one of the lowest banking penetration rates. Those rates have been growing over the past few years but, with the introduction of digital alternatives, the rise is poised to be faster. 

PiggyVest is a fintech solution developed by a Lagos-based startup founded in 2016. It enables individuals and businesses to save towards goals like launching a business, buying a car, or furthering education. It was founded by five passionate entrepreneurs, who succeeded in raising around $1.2 million in funding to accelerate its growth. 

"When we started, there were 22 banks in Nigeria. So there was quite a lot of option and yet, young people were storing their savings in wooden boxes under their beds. This showed us that people might have access to financial services but they weren’t developed to serve their needs," explained Odunayo Eweniyi, co-founder and chief operations officer of PiggyVest 

To access the various services offered by the solution, users need to download its mobile app –Android or iOS version– and register for an account. Among other things, PiggyVest offers several ways to save, such as goal-oriented savings, savings in foreign currencies such as the dollar (flex dollar), or fixed savings, which involves blocking funds for a set period without having access to them until maturity. Its savings plans remunerate users with 5 to 15% interest. 

"With PiggyVest, users can save as much as they want as frequently or infrequently as they want, be it every day, every week, or every month. [...] We offer quarterly free withdrawal days when users can take money out if they need to without any cost. Should a user want to withdraw their money early or outside of these days, they will be charged a fee to discourage them from doing so," indicated Odunayo Eweniyi. PiggyVest claims over 4 million users. In 2021, its users saved over $480 million.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

The solution was co-funded by a Nigerian-born entrepreneur who spent the bulk of his professional career working for international IT firms. 

WallX is a fintech solution developed by a Nigerian startup of the same name. It enables users, both individuals and corporate entities, to send and receive money, receive payments, and settle online transactions.  The startup, based in Lekki in Lagos State and New York in the USA, was founded in 2020 by Richmond Ogigai and Subomi Jegunmah.

"I had seen firsthand the experiences of small business owners when it comes to payments and how their businesses eventually die out because they don’t have the basic tools or knowledge to build out their businesses. [...] Things like smart digital payment tools, record keeping, hiring, and sales management, are still very much done in a very manual way, and they end up running your business down," says Richmond Ogigai.

The solution features a mobile application accessible for Android and iOS devices. Once downloaded, users must create an account to access the various services it offers. Both individuals and companies can generate payment links as well as PIN codes to easily collect merchant payments or gift vouchers, pay electricity bills, buy airtime, or make monetary contributions such as participatory financing.

Since its launch, the Android version of the mobile application has already been downloaded more than a thousand times. WallX has been selected for the Spring 2023 cohort of New York accelerator Starta. It is also one of the 12 startups selected for the second cohort (2023) of the Fast Accelerator program supported by Microsoft.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

Before Interswitch, Flutterwave, and Nala integrated this payment method developed by the American firm Alphabet. 

Interswitch, a Nigerian financial technology startup, has integrated Google Pay into its Interswitch Payment Gateway (IPG) platform, according to a press release issued on Monday, September 11.

“Merchants can now store payment details within Google Wallet. This integration facilitates a smoother checkout process on the Interswitch platform, heightening the user experience. Additionally, the collaboration enables the acceptance of international cards on the Interswitch Payment Gateway, positioning businesses to seamlessly cater to a broader international clientele,” the release reads. 

Interswitch, founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe, became a unicorn in 2019 following the acquisition of 20% of its shares by US giant Visa. It has made a name for itself in the African fintech world, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it proved to be the alternative of choice for commercial transactions in Nigeria and across the continent.

"By integrating Google Pay into our Payment Gateway, we are empowering businesses to harness the potential of a global customer base while ensuring secure and reliable payments," said Muyiwa Asagba, Managing Director of Digital Commerce and Merchant Acquisition at Interswitch.

Thanks to this integration, "users can simply add their debit and credit cards to the Google Wallet app and feel confident that their financial information is safe and secure when they’re making a purchase or catching a train," says Jenny Cheng, vice president and general manager of Google Wallet. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in News

The solution aims to help people build financial discipline.

Alvin App is a fintech solution developed by a Kenyan startup. It helps users efficiently manage, save, and grow their money.  

"The only personal finance apps we could find in Kenya were not optimized for the local context, they offered no guidance to help us acquire the assets we wanted to save toward, and only offered the ability to save but gave no daily support to help us save for goals that require consistency for long periods.[...] Alvin is ultimately designed to be your daily pocket companion that makes it dead simple to feel like you’re in control of your financial situation, and that every day," explains Winston Reid, CEO of Alvin.

Through the Alvin Android app (only the Android app is available for the time being), users can create their accounts and set spending and saving goals to let the app track their budgets. Alvin defines daily, weekly, and monthly spending thresholds, enabling users to track the evolution of their savings.

In addition to setting up the budget, Alvin assists the user daily by sending budget alerts. It also carries out comparative analysis based on current and past spending. The analysis aims to help users build and stick to spending habits that facilitate the achievement of predefined saving goals. 

"For anyone to build sustainable saving habits, they need to have sustainable spending habits. And doing this requires giving people more support than reminders to make deposits," says Winston Reid. 

In 2022, the startup behind the app raised $740,000 to accelerate its growth. At the time, it indicated that the app was in its private beta phase, adding that it was planning to go international. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

After several years in the global financial sector, three tech entrepreneurs decided to set up a fintech solution to facilitate investment in international markets for Africans regardless of their social level. That is how Ndovu was born. 

Ndovu is a fintech solution developed by a Kenyan start-up. It enables users to save money and invest in global financial markets via a mobile application. The Nairobi-based start-up behind that solution was founded in 2020 by Radhika Bhachu, Ro Nyangeri, and Gianpaolo De Biase, three tech entrepreneurs with years of experience in the financial sector. The fintech's aim is to provide Africans with the tools they need to build their wealth.

The solution has a mobile app, available on iOS and Android. Users must first download it to create an account. Upon registration, they will be asked to answer a number of questions, after which Ndovu will help them define financial objectives and set up personalized investment portfolios. After that step, they can now invest in financial markets. 

The startup has set up an online academy for its users who know nothing about finance. The academy offers tips and advice on investing and saving. 

Ndovu also makes initial security picks to suggest interesting investments to its users. 

“If you were to save $100 per month for 10 years in a bank account paying 2% per annum, you would earn $13,200. On the other hand, if you invest $100 per month for 10 years using Ndovu, into the S&P 500 fund, you could earn approximately $23,500,”  explains Ro Nyangeri.

The minimum investment on Ndovu is 5,050 Kenyan shillings (around $35). The Android version of its mobile app has already been downloaded more than 50,000 times. Since its launch, the fintech has received several awards. Among others, it won the She Loves Tech competition in 2021 and was selected for the Google for Startups Accelerator the same year.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

The Dubai-based company said the investment will help bolster payment systems infrastructure and financial inclusion and contribute to the digital transformation undertaken by the Egyptian government.

Network International, a major player in digital commerce in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region announced on Monday, August 28 an investment of EGP 1 billion ($32.3 million) to support Egypt's economic growth through innovative payment solutions.

According to the company's press release, a"significant portion" of the capital will be spent to buy, deploy, and maintain around 100,000 point-of-sale (POS) machines in several regions of Egypt. The rest will be devoted to the implementation and smooth operation of Network One, the company's state-of-the-art payments technology platform.

"This investment underscores our ongoing commitment to providing innovative payment solutions to Egyptian businesses. Our presence in the Egyptian economy spans more than two decades, during which we have served numerous banks and financial institutions," said Nandan Mer, CEO of Network International.

Network International's new investment in Egypt aligns with its government’s efforts to implement the country's national digital transformation strategy called "Digital Egypt 2030". The latter  aims to "realize the digital economy through ICT, to ensure prosperity, freedom, and social equity for all".

Network International's presence in Egypt will significantly contribute to financial inclusion and GDP growth. The player strives to modernize financial technology to facilitate the transition from cash to digital payments.

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

The tech entrepreneur launched his startup, BezoMoney, while going through MEST Africa’s support program. Through the said startup, he provides digital financial products and services to the youth and unbanked individuals. 

 Ghanaian-born Mubarak Sumaila (photo) is the co-founder and CEO of start-up BezoMoney. A graduate of the University for Development Studies, where he earned a BSc in Biotechnology in 2017, he launched BezoMoney, two years later, while he was taking part in MEST Africa's startup training program.

"There are a lot of people in the informal sector in Africa and hardly do their lives improve in any way from year to year. Through our research, we realized that this is a result of their limited access to formal financial services which stems from their inability to build verifiable credit histories even though they save and access credit through informal financial schemes. BezoMoney exists to change that," the tech entrepreneur explains.

BezoMoney provides a social savings platform, Bezo, to help low-income populations easily save money and access significant capital through collective savings.  It also offers BezoSmart Series, a financial education platform that provides customers with practical information on how to manage and improve their finances.  The education platform covers a wide range of financial topics, from savings to investments. It offers a podcast, a financial education program, events, and meetings. 

BezoMoney is one of the startups selected for the Google for Startups' Black Founders Fund 2023 program. Its CEO is also one of the beneficiaries of the  Techstars Accelerator 2023. He is also a  2022 Halcyon Incubator Fellow and a member of the alumni steering committee of Summit, a global community of entrepreneurs, academics, athletes, and personalities of all kinds.

A former intern (2016) at Lancet Technologies, a pathology laboratory operating throughout South Africa, he worked between 2017 and 2019 as the Accra office manager of Startup Grind, a global startup community. In 2020, he became a podcaster at A Tribe called VC, an online media outlet that aims to bridge the information gap between African start-ups and venture capitalists. In 2021, he worked as a digital product manager at Digital Product School, a training program set up by the German company UnternehmerTUM.

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

In Africa, digital payment methods are booming. Fintech startups are, therefore, launching ever-innovative products for day-to-day use. 

Flash is a fintech solution developed by an Egyptian eponymous start-up. It enables users to pay their bills or purchases by just scanning a QR code. 

According to Erik Gordon, CEO of the startup behind the solution, the aim is to make payments easier and secure for everyone. For that purpose, the startup has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Through the app, users can create their Flah accounts to access the various features. They need to add bank cards or top up their wallets to be able to make transactions. 

In addition to its basic functionality, Flash plans to add new financial management tools to help users make better spending decisions, according to Erik Gordon.  To develop its technology and platform, the startup has already raised over $6 million. According to Play Store data, the Android version of its app has been downloaded more than 5,000 times. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum


Published in Solutions

An Ivoirian entrepreneur, Rukayatou Saka (pictured) is the founder and CEO of Paiement Pro. She holds a degree in computer engineering obtained in 2012 from the School of Multimedia Specialities in Abidjan (ESMA) and a master's degree in data engineering obtained in 2021 from ISM Paris.

Paiement Pro is an online platform that allows its users to accept payments via mobile money solutions (like Orange Money) or by credit card. The platform was created in 2019. Secure, it fosters online selling and online businesses in Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Senegal.

Paiement Pro is a product of Amira Global Technology, which was founded by Rukayatou Saka. Established in 2008, Amira Global Technology is a digital transformation consulting company, involved in the design and development of digital solutions. Apart from Paiement Pro, the company has developed Doumgba Marché and Liste de Mariage.

Liste de Mariage is a web platform that allows future spouses to digitize their wedding list and enable friends and acquaintances to offer them gifts online, via VISA and Mastercard credit cards or mobile money (Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali).

Doumgba Marché is a web platform that improves the value chain in the production and sale of agricultural products. It connects the producer with the nearest transporter for the shipment of the product, thus allowing the production to be sold online.

To date, Amira Global Technology has completed 1,175 projects and developed more than 8 large public platforms. In 2021, the Jack Ma Foundation ranked it among the top 50 African companies. The same year, Rukayatou Saka received the national excellence award for the best female digital initiative of the year. Also in 2021, she was one of the 50 finalists in Africa's Business Heroes.

Published in TECH STARS

In 1994, Eastern and Southern African countries formed a common market, offering numerous facilities to national actors. However, various non-tariff barriers, financial barriers particularly, threaten the commercial inclusion sought.  

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) will launch a digital payment platform by June 2024, COMESA Business Council (CBC) CEO Teddy Soobramanien (photo) announced at a press conference in Lusaka (Zambia) last Monday.  

The platform aims to facilitate online transactions and boost trade relations between countries in the region. "The project will be launched in eight countries before being rolled out to all 21 member states by June next year [...] Financial inclusion ecosystems are key to sustainable development and economic progress, particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which drive innovation, job creation, and poverty reduction," said Teddy Soobramanien.

"By harnessing the power of digital technology, we can unlock the unprecedented opportunities for them, empowering them to realize their full potential and contribute to the region’s prosperity," he added.

The implementation of the digital payment platform is part of a COMESA project aimed at improving the digital financial inclusion of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the region. The project focuses on improving financial regulation and reducing cross-border transaction costs for MSMEs in the concerned markets. 

Once deployed, the platform will not only stimulate economic growth and financially empower the most vulnerable social categories but, it will also promote partnerships between businesses in the region.

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech
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