JC McIlwaine
Sponsored Content /13 Jul 2016

The Future of ‘FinTech,’ the Driver of Globalizing Africa

MyBucks recently launched our Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (FWB), pleasingly fully subscribed and indeed at a particularly intriguing moment in European and no doubt world history.

Germany, long the financial steward of the European Union, faces a challenge of assisting in the transition process for Great Britain’s departure from the EU while holding the tiller from any socioeconomic squalls that may result from ‘Brexit.’

Yet, while confidence behind European ‘interconnectedness’ may at times such as these damper, no doubt only briefly, globalization in practice has never been more effervescent. Although we may be the first African-focused Financial Technology company to list on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, African ‘FinTech’ is now reaching Germany and the world, symbolizing globalization at its core. The dynamic, malleable and importantly, sustainable development boons driven by FinTech in Africa will be connecting our citizenries, creating jobs and empowering the next generation to acquire the confidence and independence they have never experienced before. It will usher in a new era of opportunity on the continent and throughout a shifting marketplace in the world to come.

As investors now pivot toward emerging market opportunities, FinTech is booming. Global investment in the industry has tripled over the last half-decade and will double again to an estimated $6 billion by 2018, according to a recent report by Accenture and the Partnership Fund of New York City.

Making our mark on the Frankfurt Exchange was ideal for MyBucks. Germany has long held a reputation for strong governance and corporate adherence to the rule-of-law, which will, in turn, enhance our reputation abroad, creating a measurable and transparent valuation of the company and an incentive for further investment. We will use the capital raised from said investment to finance our technology platforms and accordingly seek out new growth opportunities.

Similar enterprises such as ours have successfully listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and have been able to grow their businesses accordingly and quite substantially by doing so.

However, our offering is not just for the intrepid investor – we view Africa as a greenfield prospect and proven hub for FinTech; a bountiful market for the industry to flourish. This is in part due to the continent’s long-regaled and endowed resources but also, for new offerings such as ours, which leverage the power of digital networks to make financial services available for Africa.

Perhaps contrary to popular belief, although 88% of Africans didn’t have a bank account according to 2015 research statistics, let alone a credit card – they did have a mobile phone. And this makes services like ours not only relevant but also essential.

Conversely and as a preamble, it is perhaps Africa that faces the harshest of conditions with regard to doing business on a day-to-day basis. This is not due to oft-misguided stigmas of bureaucracy, the cumbersome speed bumps inherent in working through political power constellations that may vary by country, but due to a lack of fundamental and sheer access for the ‘unbanked’ to change their present circumstances i.e. literally reach an institution, open an account and provide for their families. Many of our subscribers live in rural areas only today ‘connecting’ in a manner ‘2.0’ and many also were at one time considered ‘uncreditworthy’ because of a lack of credit history and access to financial services.

MyBucks CEO Dave Van Niekerk. (The Herald)

And yet, in no rival emerging marketplace do we see such a backdrop of resilience amidst adversity. That is Africa!

So that’s where we have chosen to step in – ‘Banking the Unbanked,’ MyBucks, along with our strategic partnerships with the non-governmental organization, Opportunity International, (also a first in FinTech) will be bringing financial inclusion to all of Africa as the first task. We are a multipronged outfit that encapsulates consumer finance solutions in the digital era to the fullest (through our subsidiary enterprises – GetBucks, GetBanked, and GetSure). Together, we have replicated our model effectively and with an aerial-methodology within the countries where we operate. For, as globalization and innovations can today connect the farmer to the manufacturer to the point of sale, so too can mobile banking penetration allow for individual success and at the same time and at a national level, proper taxation will benefit governmental infrastructure and growth.

We tend to believe our model is particularly unique. For example, we remain the first, and currently only FinTech business in Africa to make use of credit technology, supported by an in-house Artificial Intelligence (AI) system; whether or not someone can pay back a loan is arguably the most critical role that AI can play and our cloud-based proprietary software solution (called FinCloud) is both an interface to our customers as well as to our internal loan management system which is able to access our customers’ bank statements and bank accounts upon application date, to better assess creditworthiness.

It is in the ease of doing business via FinTech breakthroughs such as this, coupled with aligning ourselves with long-ingrained African ingenuity that makes us truly stand out. This belief is buttressed by greater foreign interest in the opportunities that Africa provides on the whole that have allowed for frenetic intercontinental growth and for us to arrive at the Frankfurt Exchange more than prepared for the road ahead.

We understand the challenges before us and the molds that need to be broken; our hurdles mirror that of Africa at a misinformed first glance, with many international bodies still remaining reluctant to play a role in our ‘next generation realisation.’ I liken this trepidation to that of an African race-car built for the Formula 1. No matter the modernity of the engine or the crack team of innovators and engineers behind it, there remains a lingering westernized perception of it being an ‘African car’ and thus operating on an uneven playing field.

We intend to right this misnomer. We are standing up to traditional norms and institutions at home in Africa and abroad as a force to be reckoned with from within the industry and in a new era of ever globalizing businesses.

As Germany hosts the potential to steward this present state of geopolitical affairs following ‘Brexit,’ Africa also continues to make its mark in foreign centers of power as an onus of responsibility. We will not waste the opportunity provided by globalization and we need to repay no one for our rise to the forefront of the modern marketplace.

FinTech’s ability to adapt will allow the industry to thrive in the traditional financial sector, across the continent, and around the world, despite recent and perhaps seismic shifts. Africa’s willingness to adapt is why leading brands within it today have the capacity and drive to remain on the cutting edge of global marketplace innovation.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once stated that “…necessity is not an established fact, but an interpretation.” While we understand the need for empowerment through connectivity across Africa, we interpret the application for Financial Technology as one beyond any brick and mortar institution and any one country, but malleable to reinvigorate and guide the banking sector.

We look forward to playing our role in captaining this industry as it integrates further into the traditional financial sector, amidst calm or choppy weather.

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