A look back at some of the key developments from the African continent this month.
National Bank of Kuwait – NBK-Egypt launches “Meeza” card
The National Bank of Kuwait – NBK-Egypt signed a cooperation protocol with the Egyptian Banks Company for Technological Advancement SAE (EBC) on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Accordingly, NBK Egypt announced launching the “Meeza” prepaid card. In a press release, Mr. Yasser El-Tayeb, Vice Chairman, Managing Director & CEO of NBK – Egypt said that the move comes along with the bank’s strategy to boost its range of banking products, which contributes to expanding the umbrella of using electronic payment methods and channels. Mr. El-Tayeb further stated that issuance of “Meeza” card falls in-line with the Egyptian Government’s and Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) direction in supporting financial inclusion and integrating new categories of customers in the official banking system.
This would help in the implementation of cash withdrawal transactions and the enforcement of digital cashless society plan as one of the objectives of the sustainable development strategy in line with the vision of Egypt 2030, its economic development national transformation strategy. NBK was founded in 1952 as the first indigenous bank and the first joint-stock company in Kuwait and the Gulf Region.
Other news from Egypt
First, The Financial Regulatory Authority’s (FRA) Board of Directors has approved a draft law regulating and developing the use of fintech in non-banking financial activities. Second, according to ArabFinance, planning Minister Hala el Said issued a ministerial decree to formally establish an $1.9 billion sub-fund that will be dedicated to investing in the non-banking financial services sector.
The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) has four sub-funds in sectors that present significant investment opportunities. These sectors are heath, infrastructure, food and agricultural processing, and fintech and financial services, according to the fund’s CEO, Ayman Soliman.
South Africa’s Ozow launches a new payment innovation and enables financial and digital inclusion
Digital payments company Ozow recently launched the Ozow Revolution. The Ozow Revolution is a visionary effort to make digital payments available to everyone and create greater opportunity to participate in the digital economy – especially for historically excluded communities that rely on costly and unsecure cash payments, according to the company.
The CEO and co-founder of Ozow, Thomas Pays, says, “As an impact-driven and market-led company, Ozow is at the forefront of developing breakthrough payments products that enable greater financial and digital inclusion. While more than 80% of South Africans hold a bank account, only one out of every eight have a credit card. This locks the vast majority of consumers out of digital payments and excludes them from a huge range of services. By simplifying payments for consumers and merchants alike and supporting them with helpful innovations such as zero-rated data costs, we can enable greater participation in the digital economy for all consumers and businesses.”
50 entrepreneurs set to benefit from Job Booster Programme
Online ecosystem for small business development, Kuba has announced the launch of a new Job Booster programme aimed at accelerating job creation through supporting and empowering micro-enterprises in South Africa. The company secured funding in September 2020 and signed an agreement with Job Booster, an international youth employment program driven by the Woord en Daad Foundation in the Netherlands. The pilot programme will equip 50 entrepreneurs with business training via Kuba’s online courses as well as access to their GrowMyBiz Starter kit.
This programme comes after the introduction of lockdown regulations, where companies were forced to pivot in order to stay ahead of the curve. Jacques Sibomana, Founder and Managing Director of Kuba, says, “We believed that the lockdown regulations presented an opportunity to empower our users with educational courses that will assist them to navigate the current norm. It resulted in the launch of the Kuba Job Booster Programme.”
Announcements from South Africa’s Ukheshe
“Ukheshe was developed to provide the easiest and cheapest way to pay someone for services or to leave a tip for great service” according to its website. Ukheshe has announced the appointment of Victor Ndlovu as its new Vice President for Africa and Paul Opie as Head of Issuing for Ukheshe Africa, which comes as the fintech innovator continues to expand beyond its roots in South Africa.
Nigerian financial services firm Asset and Resource Management (ARM) has launched the ARM Sandbox
Asset & Resource Management Holding Company (ARM) launched a new and more efficient way for Fintech firms to scale their integration and customer acquisition plans, the ARM Sandbox. The ARM Sandbox allows fintechs that resell APIs (Application Program Interface), provide e-wallet, investments and payment services to integrate ARM’s API into their solutions. This will provide a platform for fintechs to expand their services to new markets, leverage the credibility of the ARM brand name and best of all, earn from the management fees paid quarterly by the company.
Henrietta Bankole-Olusin, Managing Director of ARM Financial Advisers, said, “The ARM Sandbox platform will empower fintech firms across Africa to achieve their growth goals. Also, it will give them the opportunity to provide value added services to their clients and improve and enhance their customer acquisition strategies.”
Kenya and the new Startup Act
As written by various sources, The Kenyan parliament has published a Startup Bill, whereby the Kenyan government is aiming to develop a number of incentives for startups. This is in addition to having a protection for intellectual property among several interesting provisions. The Startup Bill 2020 provides a framework for the development of innovative entrepreneurship, establishing incubation hubs, and building a network of global and regional investors.
Kenya, particularly its largest city and capital of Nairobi, is a major hub for not only for East Africa but Africa as a whole not just in fintech but in economic activities.
inwi money Launches International Money Transfer Capability in Partnership With WorldRemit and MFS Africa
inwi money, a subsidiary of inwi and leading telecom player in mobile money services, has expanded its offering with the launch of an international money transfer service for its “inwi money” customers.
Nicolas Levi, CEO of inwi money, said, “The launch of this new service is a concrete result of our efforts to diversify the available payment methods in Morocco, to widen financial inclusion to encompass a greater number of Moroccans and to reduce dependency on cash transactions. inwi customers can now receive money from their loved ones abroad quickly and securely.”
Successful Funding Rounds and Investments – Pan-African
To end there were some notable funding rounds spotted by the FinTech Times team:
- Mono (Nigeria) – Mono announced its pre-seed funding of $500,000. Having been launched just last month, Mono enables companies and developers to access financial accounts for historical and real-time transactions, balances, bank statements, credits, and spending patterns of a customer.
- Makeba – The company brought in $200,000 during its current round of crowdfunding via the WeFunder platform.
- Zagace (Kenya) – it was reported that Zagace has been quietly raising a $16.7 million seed round since 2016. Zagace was founded by Mubarak Muyika and provides software packages composed of accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, sales, marketing, stock management and storage.
- Kashier (Egypt) – Kashier is a payments platform built to empower and simplify your business by providing you with simple and efficient tools to make it easier to run your business. It was announced recently that they raised a six-figure undisclosed amount in seed funding.
- Helios Investment – London headquartered by African focused investment private investment firm made news by leading series B $60 million funding for fintech company Thunes.