Kenya’s fintech players participate at the 2017 Africa Fintech Unconference in Ghana

Kenyan Fintech innovators had the chance to learn from each other and network with other Fintech innovators from across the continent at the 2017 Africa Fintech Unconference in Ghana. The two-day event kicked off on March 23.

The Unconference brought together fintech innovators, thought leaders, banks and other established financial players in the emerging Fintech sector to enable Fintech companies to engage in smarter pan-African partnerships in a fast-moving industry that is ripe for consolidation. The Unconference was organized by FIBR, an initiative of BFA and MasterCard Foundation, and partners Nomanini and Catalyst Fund.

‘We are looking to the growing fintech market in Ghana as a complement and counterpart to the East Africa Fintech sector, by cultivating, comparing and connecting what is happening in the West and East regional markets. Fintech companies across the continent, including those based in Kenya, are also turning to Ghana as an attractive market to expand into, for which bringing the Unconference to Ghana, was compelling and exciting,” Amolo Ng’weno, East Africa Regional Director at BFA.

Attendees to the unconference also included: MasterCard Foundation, Branch.co (who offer micro financing and credit to emerging markets easily and fast without the barriers of traditional microfinance) and Ecobank among many others. Some of the other Kenyan firms present were Lendable, PayGo Energy, Umati Capital, Interpay, Musoni, Sokowatch, Farmdrive and Rafode Ltd.

The Unconference format was designed for the attendees to drive the agenda and focus on the issues most important to them. Some of the key takeaways about developing strong partnerships from the different sessions were:

  • For Fintech actors working towards financial inclusion, customers need more than services or products — they need tools in which they can make money “work” in different ways for their needs and how they live.
  • Best practices for Fintech companies seeking partnerships with established players means ensuring customer needs inform partnership, understanding and defining clear goals, fostering trust and transparency early on, as well as structuring fair upside for each partner.
  • Best practices for Fintech companies seeking to gain trust with their customers need to take great care to be consistent and transparent, follow through with promises, leverage channels that are already trusted by customers and hire local people who have knowledge and networks in the target markets.

FIBR is an initiative of BFA in partnership with MasterCard Foundation aimed to create new ways to connect low-income populations to financial services that meet their needs.

BFA is a global consulting firm specializing in financial services for low-income people. It partners with organizations that touch the lives of low-income consumers such as financial institutions, fintech companies and information providers. Founded in 2006, BFA’s clients include donors, investors, financial institutions, policymakers, insurers and payment service providers. BFA has offices in Boston, New York, Nairobi and Medellín.

Nomanini, which means ‘Anytime’ in Siswati, provides affordable access to payments for everyone, everywhere. It is a South African-based enterprise payments platform provider that optimises transactions in the informal retail sector. Nomanini provides banks, mobile networks and mobile money operators with merchant tools and management platforms to enable widespread and convenient access to VAS products, cash transfers, bill payments and bank transactions for people in informal markets.

Catalyst Fund is a philanthropic grant fund at the forefront of Inclusive Fintech, an initiative supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. Since 2016, as a project managed by BFA, Catalyst Fund has been accelerating startups developing financial services for the needs of the low-income demographic by deploying US $2 million in grant capital and US $1 million in in-kind advisory services.