Stepping up a gear: Ecobank fintech boosts financial inclusion in Africa

Fintech is boosting financial inclusion across Africa, according to Ecobank, the leading independent pan-African banking group, a pioneer in Africa’s digital transformation and the main sponsor of the 2018 Africa Tech Summit  Kigali taking place today.

Although over 80% of Africans have mobile phones, only around one quarter (28%) of them have
bank account. But mobile banking and e-wallets are helping to break the banking logjam, offering
a range of alternative payment methods as well as lending and savings services. This has
boosted the overall financial inclusion rate to 34%, and it is growing each day.

However, there are many barriers to wider use of new technology where a step change is
needed in attitudes and approaches towards innovation. Ecobank’s work with e-commerce, small
business, and consumers – through their mobile banking app and other e-products – is helping
organisations and individuals to overcome these barriers and stimulate wider usage.

Head of the UK representative office of Ecobank and Group Research, Dr Edward George, will
give a keynote address at the opening of the summit where he will look at the acceleration of
disruptive technology in Africa – technological innovations that are causing a step change in the
way we do business and transact – and describe some of the latest banking & tech innovations
that are helping individuals and businesses to meet the challenges:
• Using mobile and customer data to create individualised credit scores, unlocking the
potential for mobile lending and micro-insurance;
• A key obstacle for access to new services is poor Internet access, and the high cost of
downloading data: BluPoint & BRCK (Moja) are two companies looking to provide free
(or near free) access to the Internet for ordinary Africans;
• Some innovators have focused on clearing a single blockage in the system, such as
TagPay (using encrypted sound to make mobile payments over any mobile phone) and
ZirooPay (using encrypted SSDN to make credit card payments over the mobile
network when the Internet is down).
• Distributed power companies like M-KOPA Solar using solar units to provide not just offgrid
access but also to build consumer credit profiles through asset-backed lending;
• Digital identities and verifications, such as Ghana’s Inclusive ID system, a single
verification tool allowing those without bank accounts to access to the global economy;
• Remote consultation offers huge potential for improving health services across Africa,
especially in remote areas.

“Nearly all the growth in financial inclusion since 2011 has been due to mobile banking services,”
said Dr George. “With around 100 million users of e-wallets, Africans account for around half
(57.6%) of all mobile wallets in the world.

“However, people are often stuck in their ways – whether a market trader or top executive – and
the challenge is to change the mind set and open them up to the opportunities of digital.
“Disruptive technology is about recognising these challenges and seeing technology as an
enabler, not a panacea, and by adapting innovations to the reality on the ground. That is what we
are doing at Ecobank to help businesses and individuals take the digital leapfrog.”

The Africa Tech summit takes place on 14 and 15 February in Kigali, Rwanda. It will explore the
latest trends in digital technology with some 250 key African and international tech leaders from
across the continent.Other speakers will include Alice Kilonzo Zulu, Managing Director od Ecobank Rwanda, who willtalk about Ecobank e-commerce and how cashless innovations are spurring SME growth, and Nshuti Mbabazi, Vice President, Push Payments at Ecobank, who will look at how Ecobank’s
digital strategy is helping deliver the cashless society in Africa.

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