Exploring Africa’s evolving fintech ecosystem, The Fintech Times delves into the success of Visa’s Accelerator Program, now accepting applications for its second cohort, as it continues to enrich startups on the continent.
The fintech startup scene in Africa is growing at an exceptional rate, with the overall number up 125.2 per cent between 2017 and 2023.¹ However, even with compelling growth prospects across the continent, there is still plenty of work to be done. Around 350 million of Africa’s 1.47 billion people lack access to financial services.
To kick off a special video series about the inaugural Visa Africa Fintech Accelerator programme and how it intends to drive fintech innovation across the continent, Otto Williams, SVP, head of product, partnerships, and digital solutions at Visa Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, spoke with Polly Jean Harrison, features editor at The Fintech Times, to discuss the African fintech scene and how Visa’s new accelerator programme will level up the ecosystem and uplift the digital economy across the continent.
Accelerating Africa’s fintech scene
Launched in July, the Visa Africa Fintech Accelerator is a 12-week virtual programme created to support fintech startups across the continent, providing them with the resources they need to grow and make significant impact on the African digital economy.
Featuring a cohort of 23 startups, the members represent sub-sectors including merchant payment solutions, lending infrastructure, banking-as-a-service, neo banking, buy now, pay later (BNPL), and B2B marketplaces.
Each startup gets personalised mentoring from industry professionals as well as valuable content from a variety of players across the ecosystem. Once the programme is complete, Visa will further support the growth of these fintechs through capital investment in select businesses and accelerate their commercial launch through access to Visa technology and capabilities as well as the opportunity for investment review by Visa and Visa partner Plug and Play.
Commenting on the makeup of the accelerator’s startups, Williams is proud that 41 per cent have at least one woman on their founding team. Beyond gender and sector diversity, he also points to the broad scope of geographical representation, with startups from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana covering every African sub region.
The wider landscape
With the majority of transactions across Africa still cash-based, fintechs have many avenues to explore.
“We do have really significant opportunities for digital financial inclusion and for driving cashless across the continent,” explained Williams. “That is exactly where we see these fintechs play, and if you think about the revenue opportunity, it still is pretty substantial across the continent for fintechs to capture. The financial services market is predicted to grow 10 per cent per year, reaching $230 billion in revenues by 2025.²
“We found that the fintech community across the continent is really leading the charge for payments innovation and connecting unbanked populations with the digital economy. Visa is all-in in supporting fintechs to actually achieve these objectives and drive digital financial inclusion across Africa.”
The prospect for innovation in financial technology to uplift Africa’s digital economy is clearly substantial. Over the next few weeks, The Fintech Times will be speaking to the entrepreneurs driving this change to discuss their participation in Visa’s accelerator and learn more about the challenges they are looking to solve.
These interviews offer a unique window into one of the world’s most promising fintech regions – be sure not to miss out.
Watch Polly chat to Otto to learn more about the Visa Africa Fintech Accelerator.