Empowering the Middle East and Africa (MEA) through investing in future partnerships and innovations is important. It allows the region to not only import the latest technology but also develop its own home-grown solutions.
Emerald Group is an economic group that focuses on developing and creating value through investments and advisory services in a wide variety of sectors, from natural resources to finance. The Fintech Times speaks with N’Gunu Tiny, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Emerald Group.
N’Gunu Tiny has been involved in all phases of Emerald Group’s development since its inception in 2011 and is also a Partner and Board Member at Optimal Investments, SA. Previously, he was Chairman of the General Meeting of Finibanco, Board Member of the Angola Securities Exchange Commission and Board Member of the De Beers Angola Investments. In 2017, Mr. Tiny was recognised as one of the 100 most influential Leaders of Tomorrow by the Choiseul Institute. Most recently, N’Gunu has been recognised by Forbes and recognised with the ‘Best of Africa’ award for his work bridging the investment gap into the continent.
A lawyer by trade he was also a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School. Here he explains more on Emerald and its use of fintech.
We are very much pro-financial technology. Technology can be a powerful tool when deployed correctly. It as the ability to bring people into the banking system and remove them from poverty. It also has the ability to level the playing fields for business. It can create so much powerful social good. So in answer to that, Emerald fully embraces fintech and indeed all types of tech.
I would say that Emerald Group (EG)’s drive toward financial innovation has expanded as innovations within Finance have also expanded. For example, over the past few years, we have seen the exponential development of blockchain. Therefore so has EG’s involvement in the sector. We have the ‘minds’ and the mindset within the organization to be able to adapt quickly to changing trends.
In relation to distributed ledger technologies (DLT)’s, what I like about blockchain is that it can be viewed as the Internet 3.0 and has the ability to build a stronger more secure world. Think what the Internet did for Information. We have e-mails, online music and video portals for example. Blockchain will do the same for Assets. Imagine all Real Estate and Art Works being logged on a Digital Ledger rather than ownership stored on paper in some warehouse, as it still is in many parts of the world? Where you can take your rental investment, digitalise it and sell parts of it, instead of the entire flat. Where you can own a portion of a piece of Art by a Master, rather than the entire painting. The same logic applies for agriculture, you can own parts of a production field somewhere in the world and contribute to the local ecosystem.
To bring about change as part of Emerald’s core Mission statement. As an investor and organisation, it is great to make money, but if you can do that and bring about change in the world, well it’s been a journey worth fighting for.
The group has a large focus around fintech Ecosystems. This is the primary objective of Banko, a UK registered fintech-focused project. Instead of trying to build new smaller ecosystems, we have decided to build a Master Ecosystem with multiple moving parts that can all integrate with one another. We will then JV with smaller entities to rapidly expand their product offering and thus customer base. This Master Ecosystem will contain everything from blockchain and cryptocurrency products, traditional savings and investments, right through to basic banking for retail and SME’s. Imagine a bank in one country being able to tap into a global ecosystem, rather than trying to build a new one entirely from scratch. Of all the projects that have the potential to really be a social innovation, Banko excites me the most.
We have recently partnered with HBK Departments of Projects and His Highness Hamad bin Khalifa bin Mohammed al Nahyan to deliver projects into Africa and further build the relationship between the Middle East and Africa. Whilst we are technology agnostic, we have chosen to use GoChain as the main provider of Blockchain E-Government solutions. Our mission is to help take Governments into the future, from Analogue to Digital. The potential for governments to save costs and increase revenue is just immense and we will see those states that implement DLT early, leapfrog ahead of other African nations into the digital future.
FINTECH IDEAS AND PREDICTIONS IN THE INDUSTRY
One of the biggest benefits will be to protect countries natural resources and its people. Imagine a Coffee farmer being able to place his produce onto a blockchain, so the end-user could see the entire journey from start to finish and even see how much of the total cost of the coffee the farmer actually gets. It will lead to consumers being able to really influence where the profits go.
Imagine the cost of global remittance being bought down by 50/60% and the effect that will have on people that send money home every day. Imagine those people not previously banked, now being able to access financial services such as health insurance and loans. The benefits are immense and we are just beginning that journey.
There are certainly many challenges on the horizon. COVID-19 and the impending economic pullback will certainly have an effect. On the flip side, we will see forward and smart thinking countries and companies actually prioritizing digitalisation now. This is a chance to progress in the face of adversity.
Sadly, I think there are some governments that may not want their finances being so transparent. Blockchain really does create enhanced transparent on where funds go. Having an open and stringent regulatory system will also greatly help with long-term economic sustainability and encourage foreign direct investment (FDI). Emerald Group is able to help formulate and implement Regulatory frameworks from scratch.
I believe that the world can no longer afford to just look for innovating products. I believe that instead, we should be trying to build innovative products that have a ‘social’ goal. Social Innovations are likely to become the core focus of the technology sector in general in the next decade. One day companies will not be valued by the latest round of funding they managed to raise, but by the number of lives they managed to change.