Leading fintech companies from sub-Sahara Africa have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative, a global innovation program that tasks start-ups to solve commerce challenges of tomorrow, further enhance their own product propositions and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners.
Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, Kenyan startups M-Changa, Mookh, WayaWaya and LipaPlus will compete against innovators from across sub-Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US $50,000 (Kshs 5 million) to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24.
(TOP: Screenshot of the M-Changa homepage, one of the 4 Kenyan firms shortlisted in Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenge).
Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape.
The sub-Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges:
- How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either: Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
- How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments?
- How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?.
Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US $25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US $25,000.
Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director, Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”
“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and wish them luck as they enter the final stretch. When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”
Kenya based startups M-Changa, a fundraising management platform; Mookh Africa, a solution that makes it easier for people in Africa to buy and sell on mainstream social media platforms; and WayaWaya which allows individuals and business to access banking services – all Kenya-based startups – are competing in the second challenge. LipaPlus, a Kenyan mobile POS and wallet that enables cashless payments is competing in the third challenge.
The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry.
Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is a global innovation program that tasks start-ups to solve commerce and payment challenges of tomorrow, further enhance their own product propositions and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners. The program first launched in the U.S. in 2015 and quickly expanded into a global program with more than 2,100 participating start-ups, which have collectively raised over $2 billion in funding, with more than 131 finalists and 36 winners selected. The program activates in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa, and has touched over 40 countries throughout the program’s history.