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Issue 90
May 17 - May 23, 2021

Hi there,

It is the end of the football season and I can already sense how boring my weekend will be. Anyway, the Champions League final is this Saturday and I'm looking forward to a Man City win :)

Do enjoy the rest of the week and stay safe!

Osaro & Bolaji
Product Specialists
South AfricaMTN South Africa receives $2million investment from the IFC. The round of funding will be used to recruit and train 10,000 mobile money agents. The announcement comes just one month after MTN announced a partnership with Pick n Pay, the South African retail giant, to allow MoMo subscribers to withdraw and deposit cash at over 1,600 Pick n Pay stores around the country Business Insider

Although the news does not state if the $2million is an equity investment, we know that MTN has been trying for some time now to reboot its mobile money operations in South Africa after the initial shut-down in 2018. The new investment from the IFC suggests that they might finally be gaining traction.
EgyptSequoia leads $5M pre-seed in Telda. Founded by the ex-CTO of Swvl and an ex-Uber senior engineer, the Egypt-based digital bank is looking to digitize how Egyptians save, send, and spend money. The funding will be used to fast-track card production and distribution and also in hiring and scaling the Telda team. This investment comes as Sequoia's first venture in the MENA region. TechCrunch
NigeriaBFREE secures $800k seed funding. The Nigeria-based credit collection and credit management startup has secured a seed funding of $800k. Beta Ventures, Launch Africa Ventures, and GreenHouse Capital are the participants in this funding round. The COO says the funding will be used to scale the product and development team and also to pilot the Kenyan market. Tech Economy
TwitterIs digital wallet interoperability the next stage of the African fintech revolution? Wiza Jalakasi(@wizaj) and Victor Asemota (@asemota) make a strong case for interoperable digital wallets in Africa to potentially upend the status quo in African fintech in these series of tweets

It's interesting to note that some crude form of digital wallet interoperability already exists with virtual account functionality just like we mentioned in the last issue. Most fintech applications currently assign bank accounts to their customers. These accounts are tied to their balances and allow them to move money between these different stores of value via bank transfers. There are however deeper use cases beyond simple wallet-to-wallet transfers like lending and merchant payments.

Achieving these advanced finance functions without an on-ramp to the legacy banking system might introduce some challenges, chief among them being regulatory resistance and lack of obvious incentives for digital wallets to give up their walled gardens. Other challenges might also include misalignment on KYC/AML operations of the different parties and potential limitations in back-office settlements. That said, startups like Peer and Appconnect are doing some early work on this and it will be interesting to see how (and eventually if) they are able to circumvent these challenges. 
Banking & Finance
MauritaniaMauritania's Bank of International Trade (BIT) launches a digital bank. The new bank, Masrvi, is launching on TagPay, a core banking system provider. As with most digital banks, users of Masrvi will be able to open a digital bank account and conduct several financial transactions such as making withdrawals, deposits, and transferring money, amongst other services. Afrikan Heroes

 It's interesting that the country's Bank of International Trade will be launching a digital bank. How will this work? What will the structure look like? I'm really curious. If you have more information on this development, please reach out to us.
EgyptNational Bank of Egypt and Dubai’s Lulu Exchange connect through RippleNet's blockchain. Lulu Exchange, a financial services company that provides remittance services will now power its transactions with the NBE through a blockchain. The goal of this partnership is to make their cross-border remittance experience between Egypt and Dubai cheaper, quicker, and more reliable. CoinDesk

This is a big step in the mainstream adoption of blockchain for real-world use cases. Egypt received over $24 billion in remittance inflows in 2020 and NBE is Egypt's largest bank in terms of deposits. By routing a portion of that flow through the RippleNet protocol, money movement could potentially be cheaper and faster and eventually drive even more remittance in the long run.
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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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