2019, The Year of African (Nigerian) Fintech

Happy New Year, Everyone!

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that a 'brick' several hundred million dollars heavy descended on Africa in Q4 2019, most of it venture capital earmarked for fintech startups in Nigeria.

Interswitch notably attained unicorn status in November following Visa acquiring 20% of the company for a reported $200 million. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's much-publicised visit to Africa last month also did much to put a global spotlight on the continent’s fintech arena, and the subsequent capital raises by OPay (backed by Opera) and PalmPay (backed by Transsion) drew attention to the on-going race for platform dominance in the space.

And so, fittingly, African Tech Roundup decided to close out 2019 with a pair of podcasts dubbed the African Fintech Signal Check 2019 — two deep-dives into all the hype surrounding Africa's fintech scene to explore what the broader implications might be for the continent's tech ecosystem at large.

Part 1 of our African Fintech Signal Check features Malawian mobile tech entrepreneur, Wiza Jalakasi, who factored in on why the hoo-ha around Jack Dorsey’s recent Africa visit might be well-deserved [12:38], and explained why PalmPay’s $40 million seed round could be the most significant China-related fintech startup play of 2019 [25:47].

Part 2 of our African Fintech Signal Check features Indian tech founder, Arunjay Katakam, who holds that there are three major cost factors/points of friction preventing mobile money from enjoying WhatsApp-level ubiquity and mainstream adoption [18:50], and believes that African mobile network operators (MNOs) might do well to let China and India's tech ecosystem experiences inform their strategies? [57:54]

Also worth checking out is this exceedingly popular podcast episode featuring the Kenyan digital money analyst Michael Kimani and the South African crypto entrepreneur Simon Dingle to discuss how Libra and the proposed Calibra network stacks up against existing cryptocurrency concepts like Bitcoin, and to establish whether or not Facebook's digital currency might be good for Africa.

Here's to a fantastic year ahead!

Image credit: Namnso Ukpanah