Decode Fintech Logo
Issue 19
Aug 19 - Aug 25, 2019

Hi there,

We recently put up our very first billboards in Lagos. It was a neat learning experience, and we've documented everything we learned about billboard advertising in Nigeria in a handy blog post.

The billboards are part of a broader campaign to educate everyday people that online payments are secure (many people forget that digital payments are still relatively novel in our part of the world). As part of the campaign, the team created an interactive microsite that drives home the message of security in a really vivid way - try it out at paystack.com/security!

Bolaji Akande
Product Specialist, Paystack
Payments
GlobalWhatsApp in talks to launch mobile payments in Indonesia. Indonesia could become the second country worldwide where WhatsApp introduces digital payment services, as it awaits regulatory approval from India. However, unlike in India where it plans to offer direct peer-to-peer payment services, WhatsApp will simply serve as a platform supporting payments via local digital wallets due to tough licensing regulations. WhatsApp is in advanced talks with several Indonesian digital payments firms including ride hailer Go-Jek, mobile payments firm DANA, and fintech startup OVO. Reuters
UgandaSuspension of cross-network mobile money service continues between Uganda's MTN and Airtel. Two months ago, Uganda's MTN and Airtel suspended cross-network mobile money services, also known as interoperability, citing “technical failures.” MTN and Airtel hold a combined 90% market share of mobile subscribers in Uganda. Dr Adam Mugume, the executive director for research at the Bank of Uganda says the apex bank is aware of the suspension. He says the service suspension is as a result of a failure of the messaging system between MTN and Airtel. The telecom companies have however resolved the issue and are currently testing to eliminate any glitches. Daily Monitor
ZimbabweDesperate Zimbabweans use cell phone transfers to get cash. With inflation soaring and cash in short supply, many Zimbabweans transfer funds to cash vendors using their mobile phones and pay a premium to get currency. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, more than 80% of all transactions in the country are conducted through mobile money, however many retailers and service providers demand payments in cash only. Due to the scarcity, banks are usually unable to dispense cash, even to their own account holders. This leaves cash vendors as the only option, despite the steep fees that they charge. Kurl8
EthiopiaEthiopia partners Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to build its digital economy. Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma is scheduled to visit Ethiopia in November this year with a high-level delegation of Chinese investors to help the country promote financial inclusion and bolster its digital economy. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) also announced it was collaborating with the International Financial Corporation (IFC) and Ant Financial to promote digital financial inclusion in Africa. Vera Songwe Executive Secretary for ECA, recently led Ant Financial’s CEO, Eric Jing, and IFC’s VP and Treasurer, Jingdong Hua, to a meeting with President Mulatu Teshome of Ethiopia. Techmoran
AfricaWhatsApp faces potential competition in Africa as MTN releases new instant messaging app Ayoba. The primary function of MTN's Ayoba is to send and receive messages. However, it comes with additional services that make it a rival to popular chat mobile app, WhatsApp. A major difference from other instant messaging apps is that Ayoba has SMS integration. This means a user can send a message to anyone, even if they are not using Ayoba. Ayo is another step by the telecommunication group in repositioning itself in Africa as a fintech brand for everyday activities. Technext.ng
South AfricaVirtual cards for online payments are on the up, says South Africa's Standard Bank. Although starting at a relatively low base, virtual card payments have increased by more than 300% in the past 9 months according to Standard Bank. Online retail spending currently accounts for less than 2% of retail spend in South Africa, however, this number is expected to increase in the next few years. Standard Bank also noted some interesting usage trends when it comes to online shopping. Consumers are increasingly using ride-hailing services as well as purchasing online vouchers with the likes of Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. Cape Business News
ZimbabweZimbabwe's EcoCash launches Bureau de change services. According to Ecocash, the service is one way of converting funds from USD to Zimdollar. The company further explained that "The platform allows you to convert funds in your mobile wallet Foreign Currency Account (FCA) to RTGS (Zimdollar). The funds are credited into your FCA by means of either cashing in at our Econet shops or when you have received funds from our remittance partners." The EcoCash platform has a foreign currency account option into which wallet holders can deposit funds from remittances as per partnerships established with money transfer companies or through direct deposit of foreign currency into mobile wallets. Fintech Africa
GlobalDutch fintech company Adyen stock falls despite strong earnings. Adyen, a Dutch fintech company that processes payments for online merchants including Facebook and Netflix, recently reported a better than expected 79% jump in core profit. However, Adyen shares fell 5.1% to €643.2 last week on Thursday. Analyst Johann Scholtz at Morningstar says that the share price dip on the back of 40%-plus revenue growth illustrates expectations are quite high for the company. BusinessDay
GlobalVisa doubles down on partnerships, acquisitions, and investments in fintechs. When Visa reported its 3rd quarter results last month, investors were looking to see if problems from the company's first two fiscal quarters of the year, specifically, low cross-border payment growth, would persist. However, revenue rose to $5.8 billion, an 11% increase year on year, and adjusted earnings per share grew to $1.37, a 14% increase over last year's 3rd quarter. The report also shows that Visa appears to be turning to small acquisitions to build out its network's capabilities and reach, and is using fintech partnerships to further expand its reach. The Motley Fool
Conversations
TwitterCo-founder and CEO of Buycoins Timi Ajiboye (@timigod) co-wrote a book titled "The Little Bitcoin Book." The book explains why Bitcoin is important, without confusing technical jargon. He shared the news via this tweet
Banking & Finance
NigeriaNigerian Stock Exchange delists two banks. The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has delisted two defunct banks - Skye Bank Plc and Fortis Microfinance Bank Plc - formally closing any window of shares exchange for the defunct banks. The NSE issued a statement on Wednesday, notifying dealing members of the delisting of the two banks. In July 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extended the tenure of the board of directors and management of Skye Bank for another two years till June 30, 2020. However, on September 21, 2018, the CBN revoked the operating license of Skye Bank and licensed Polaris Bank as a bridge bank to take over assets and liabilities of defunct Skye Bank. The Nation
AfricaAfrica's largest bank joins blockchain innovators network. Blockchain trade finance network Marco Polo announced that the Standard Bank Group will be a new member. Johannesburg-based Standard Bank is the biggest in Africa by assets and will be joining the likes of ING and BNP Paribas on the distributed network. Standard Bank, which is present in 20 African countries, will now be able to contribute to the governance of Marco Polo while also taking advantage of its blockchain-powered applications. My Fintech
GhanaGhana’s Central Bank pulls licenses of 23 financial institutions. The Central Bank of Ghana announced last week that it had revoked the licenses of 23 savings and loans companies as well as finance houses, and appointed a receiver to manage their affairs. The steps marked the end of an industry cleanse of lenders and second-level financial institutions that started in August 2017 and cost the government at least 12 billion cedis ($2.2 billion) in bonds and cash to cover depositors’ holdings. In August of 2017, Ghana’s government announced that it was going to clean house in its financial services sector, particularly among lenders and second-level financial institutions. PYMNTS
Regulatory
KenyaGoogle has warned that Kenya risks trade wars with other countries if it imposes tax on digital transactions. The Kenyan government had proposed a review to a law through the Finance Bill 2019 that will see online businesses slapped with an income tax. Google public policy and government relations leader in the region, Michael Murungi, cited France as an example, with its tax on big multinational tech companies. France is now in the midst of a trade dispute with the US Treasury because of that tax which was seen as targeting Google and other multinational firms based in the US. Business Daily
GlobalRegulatory pushback spooks Libra backers. Some early supporters of Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency Libra want to distance themselves from the project due to intense global regulatory scrutiny. Two early backers said that they wanted to figure out how to end their relationship with Facebook over the scrutiny. Another early backer said they didn’t want to support Libra publicly because they were worried about the regulatory attention it could bring to their own business. PYMNTS
NigeriaNigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement fintech roadmap for capital market. Acting Director General of the Commission, Mary Uduk, said the SEC is building capacity to effectively interact with the fintech sector. The SEC will also continue to engage the Fintech Association of Nigeria and all key stakeholders to get their inputs, as the roadmap implementation phase takes effect. To strengthen the regulatory process in the capital market, the SEC Nigeria recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). Proshare
Remittance
ZimbabweCassava Fintech announces free remittance service for 30 days. Cassava Fintech, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Econet Group, has announced a new remittance service that is aimed at reducing the cost of sending money from the diaspora. From September 1, 2019, Zimbabweans sending money from the diaspora will pay only 2.5% in remittance fees, a drastic reduction on a cost which usually runs between 8 to 15%. Cassava also announced a 30-day free promotion, which could be extended further depending on the market’s response. Chronicle
Lending
NigeriaCentral Bank of Nigeria to allow loan defaults to be settled with deposits from other banks. In order to encourage banks to increase lending, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is working with commercial banks in the country to allow loan defaults in one bank to be settled using deposits of the customer from other banks. According to Aishah Ahmad, CBN's deputy governor says this is going to be a credit risk protection clause. Basically, it will contain the BVN details and TIN of the customers and will be a commitment on the part of the customers to pay back their loans. Proshare
Sierra LeoneSan Francisco crowdfunder Kiva sets up Sierra Leone credit database. Kiva is using the blockchain to create an online ID database in Sierra Leone, allowing people who struggle to get loans to prove their credit history. Kiva facilitates small loans in 80 countries, but Sierra Leone is the first country to implement an online credit system designed by the organisation. The platform will enable lenders to look up citizens’ credit histories using fingerprints and other biometric data that was collected a few years ago by Sierra Leone’s government to print voter ID cards. Reuters
Fundraising
NigeriaNigerian property investment platform Vistafront secures funding round. Nigerian startup Vistafront, a tech platform that allows users to co-fund real estate projects, has raised funding from real estate investment firm Landwey in return for a 25% stake. Vistafront lists vetted real estate investment opportunities for its users to fund, allowing people to invest in real estate from their mobile phones. Units cost as little as NGN25,000 (US$70) each, with investors able to buy as many as they want and make returns of 12 per cent. The startup has now raised funding from Landwey Investment, a more traditional real estate investment firm, which will be used to help it grow its user base and list more projects. Disrupt Africa
KenyaPayPal-backed money lender Tala raises $110M to enter India. Tala, a Santa Monica, California -headquartered startup that creates a credit profile to provide uncollateralized loans to millions of people in emerging markets, has raised $110 million in a new financing round to enter India’s burgeoning fintech space. The Series D financing for the five-year-old startup was led by RPS Ventures, with GGV Capital and previous investors IVP, Revolution Growth, Lowercase Capital, Data Collective VC, ThomVest Ventures, and PayPal Ventures also participating in the round. The new round, which takes the startup’s total fundraising to more than $215 million, valued it above $750 million, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Tala has also raised an additional $100 million in debt, including a $50 million facility led by Colchis in the last year. Techcrunch
GlobalGlobal fintech investment plummets. Results from Accenture's latest report shows that in the first half of 2019, the total value of all the deals struck all over the world is $22 billion. For the same period last year, that figure stood at $31.2 billion. Accenture blames the deteriorating relations between the US and China. IT Pro Portal
Cryptocurrency
GlobalWorld Central Bankers discuss global crypto alternative. The 2019 Kansas City Federal Reserve's Annual Symposium gathered the top monetary policymakers worldwide to kick around ideas to topple the dollar’s power, Bloomberg reported Sunday (Aug. 25). The conference was comprised of current and former central bankers, including Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who has challenged the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency. Although no one came to an agreement that Carney’s idea for a virtual reserve currency was the answer, participants agreed that the dollar’s dominance is a problem. PYMNTS
Events
BusinessTech FinTech Conference 2019
September 11, Johannesburg
Jobs
Branch International
Operations Manager New
Lagos, Nigeria
Compliance Manager New
Lagos, Nigeria
Peach Payments
Senior Software Engineer New
Cape Town, South Africa
Product Manager
Cape Town, South Africa
Product Designer
Cape Town, South Africa
Mastercard
Senior Specialist
Johannesburg, South Africa
Yoco
Senior Product Manager
Cape Town, South Africa
Head of Customer Support
Cape Town, South Africa
Senior Paid Media Manager
Cape Town, South Africa
Jumo
Data Engineer
Cape Town, South Africa
Carbon (formerly Paylater)
Country Business Lead
Nairobi, Kenya
Senior IOS Developer
Lagos, Nigeria
UX Design Lead
Lagos, Nigeria
BitPesa
Sales Consultant
Dakar, Senegal
Branding and PR Manager
Nairobi Kenya, Johannesburg South Africa
Cowrywise
Backend Developer
Lagos, Nigeria
Cellulant
Visa
Transit & Contactless Manager
Johannesburg, South Africa
Solutions Delivery Manager
Johannesburg, South Africa
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Do you have an announcement, event, or job posting you'd like to share, or have you come across an interesting bit of African fintech news recently? Hit reply and let me know! I might be able to include it in next week's newsletter.
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