Africa presents an incredible opportunity for fintech innovation and growth. Here are a few reasons that folks are excited about the potential of fintech in Sub-Saharan Africa:
1. Demographic Trends: The average age on the continent is 18 years of age. This is significant because younger people are generally early adopters of technology.
2. Adoption as Opposed to Transition: Much like the uptake of cell phones in Africa (which did not have to compete with pre-existing phone lines to the same extent as they did in the UK and US), mobile wallets may be the first form of electronic payments within many communities in Africa. Fintech innovators will not be competing with credit and debit cards to the same extent as they do in the UK and US.
3. Migration Trends: With rising rural to urban migrations rates in Africa (often among young people), it would suggest that fintech could facilitate the transfer of money across geographies.
Not surprisingly, more than 180 million people in Africa use a mobile wallet (3x the adoption in the US). However, one primary issue facing fintech is fragmentation. Different providers and systems make it difficult to send monies between regions. As such, interoperability will be pivotal going forward in the adoption of fintech in Africa.
One real opportunity is to fundamentally change how more than a billion people pay for goods and services across an entire continent. The continent is Africa, the youngest on the planet by average age (just 18 years old). Africa is financially evolving fast without the burden of migrating from old technologies and infrastructure, such as a fixed-line Internet. Africans move directly to the latest smartphones to use a wholly mobile Internet and as a result, South Africa and Kenya are among the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world.