By Dave Van Niekerk and Christiaan Van Der Walt (MyBucks)
As we enter 2019, we at MyBucks have taken the time to look back and reflect upon the tremendous strides that the ‘industry’ of FinTech has taken over the course of last year, within Africa and beyond.
From advanced technological achievements, to improved ‘ease of doing business’ in many of the regions where we proudly operate, to the continued breakout of smartphone access across the continent of Africa, to the furthering of our mission for global financial inclusion in serving the unbanked and underbanked alike, it has truly been a stellar 2018.
We also look back on exciting milestone from our Team at MyBucks, including the continued deployment of mobile lending app ‘Haraka’ (or ‘Swiftly’ in Swahili), our work in Malawi within the 40,000-strong Dzaleka Refugee Camp in collaboration with UNHCR, the bold new partnerships that we’ve forged; together, these have ensured we, as one of Africa’s first Financial Technology enterprises, remain in pole position and at the cutting edge of financial transactions.
Brand benchmarks certainly to be celebrated, however we are forever looking forward. As such, there are several exciting, new trends that we forecast on the horizon for 2019 within the industry of Financial Technology, trends MyBucks will no doubt play a lead role in pioneering.
At the highest level, the vision for our Frankfurt Exchange-listed MyBucks has always been to grow our market share continually while reaching more and more customers through our advanced technology offering – whether based in urban city centres or remote rural locations alike. Expansion on both fronts in 2019 is assured; MyBucks-branded banking services, e-insurance and mobile loans are presently available in over 13 African countries, a number which is expected to increase with the dramatic amount of smartphone users ‘unlocking’ across the continent (with 362 million smartphone users presently in Africa, expected to double by the year 2020), coupled with a dedicated drive by our Team to collaborate with new partners in Europe and across Asia-Pacific, as examples.
We predict that over the course of the next year, boons within artificial intelligence (AI)-driven financial technology will help us reach more customers and serve them with greater efficacy and rapidity, in any language. One such AI program already in use is our Haraka App, which offers clients nano-loans in real-time by using AI-based algorithms to predict an applicant’s credit risk. This tech allows clients to secure loans without ever having held a bank account or host previous credit histories while cutting through excessive paperwork in the application process.
The Haraka App was initially launched in Kenya, and was successful enough to subsequently be implemented in Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland. We expect in 2019 and beyond, great expansion here as well; financial institutions from countries as diverse as Argentina, India, the Philippines and Australia have taken note of our innovative scoring platform and have requested the model be applied to their respective markets, leveraging our technologies to strategically bridge the gap between their formal and informal economies.
We’ve even applied our AI to MyBucks.com. We encourage your readers to ‘speak with’ the ‘TESS’ proprietary Chabot on our , a model pioneered by MyBucks, geared to revolutionize how visitors navigate, engage and interact and one surely to be replicated elsewhere on the world-wide-web in the year ahead.
Artificial Intelligence advances are not the only development in store for 2019, however. We predict that the strategic partnerships forged in 2018 and the use of the technologies which they employ, will lead to terrific MyBucks FinTech adoption and growth, with last year having created a more conducive climate for global financial technology industry collaborations than ever before.
One such partnership, announced in November 2018, was forged with the UK-based FinTech company Bibimoney Global. The joint venture is strategically aimed at increasing reach and competitiveness within the micro loan market through SIM-Skins technology.
A SIM-skin is an innovative piece of hardware, exclusively developed and owned by Bibimoney. It consists of a thin plastic membrane that can be attached to the SIM card of any mobile phone. Once attached, the skin enables the Bibimoney application to function on the mobile device of choice, giving the user access to an interoperable mobile wallet. Once the user has access to the wallet, they can then receive and send funds, pay bills electronically, cash-out, and also apply for, obtain, and re-pay micro loans.
Additionally, said SIM-skin user will have access to the full suite of MyBucks products from any mobile phone, on any mobile network, in every country.
Key industry experts have predicted that there will be a steep rise in cryptocurrency payments in 2019, as more customers get educated on the advantages of leveraging digital currency, which include however are not limited to, drastically lower transaction costs. Foreseeing this, we were pleased in 2018 to partner with Naga Group, pairing Naga’s cryptocurrency technology and its groundbreaking ‘cryptocurrency wallet’ with our company’s banking applications tailored for the African market, indeed applicable to our over 1.5 million clients on the continent, beyond in Australia and in other key markets. Naga’s wallet enables users to send and receive cryptocurrency payments via email and convert those payments into cash. The technology can also be used for stock trading and financial investments.
Peer to peer payments will continue to grow in 2019, driven by the widespread adoption of smartphones and convenience offered by ‘P2P’ apps. Venmo, for example, reported that it “…processed over $35 billion USD worth of transactions in 2017, resulting in a 95% increase in growth of payment volume against the previous year”.
Throughout the realisation of this year’s forecasts, we pledge to never lose sight of the inherent social impact found within our Financial Technology. In Dzaleka, within Malawi, for example, the United Nations’ World Food Programme, as reported by , “…provided food for families in the camp upon entry, but hosts a budget shortage, so the food only lasts for 21 days. For the remaining 10 days, refugees have to come up with their own resources to survive”. Loans like ours not only help sustain families but help fortify communities. The community dynamic in fact, creates unprecedented accountability from our loan applicants.
Within Dzaleka, we have seen awe inspiring growth in fintech adoption, with no accounts in arrears.
With these milestones in 2018’s ‘rear-view’, the MyBucks team looks forward to a future filled with shared potential and substantial growth, accomplished by the continued leveraging of smart technologies, unbridled ‘access’ unlocked for our growing target market and greater collaborations forged in the name of financial inclusion. It is our goal that, in the near future, not having access to a brick and mortar banking institution will no longer be an issue for those who have been historically underserved.
In short, our predictions for the FinTech industry in 2019 are exceedingly positive, empowering and exciting.