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African FinTech trends in a post-Covid world

By Dominique Collett, a senior investment executive at Rand Merchant Investments and the head of AlphaCode Each year, at AlphaCode , we use our vantage point of the African fintech landscape to share what we expect this year. We had no idea last January that a whole new world awaited. One that would include global lockdowns, Zoombombing, covidiots, closed borders and quarantining. The fintech environment was obviously affected by the pandemic. We reviewed our predictions of January 2020 and some of them did come to pass. Bitcoin for instance went parabolic during 2020 hitting all-time highs and it continues to rise, fall and rise daily. Payments came into focus and adoption during the pandemic has been rapid, as consumers avoided touching cash or point of sale devices and as ecommerce increased dramatically. The pandemic also increased interest in smart and digital insurance as consumers avoided meeting their brokers, while enjoying turning-off insurance when it wasnt needed, and fintech partnerships continued to grow during the year. Last year we predicted partnerships between banks, insurers and fintechs. We saw a couple of notable events: the joint venture between Capitec and Easy Equities where Capitec is offering Easy Equities to its client base. The game changer in the payments space was Vodacom partnering with Alipay , although recent regulatory developments in China around fintech could hamstring these efforts. Standard Bank bought Tradesafe , a digital escrow services provider. OUTsurance and Shoprite partnered to offer funeral and life insurance to Shoprite customers. Telkom Business partnered with fintech startup, Fundrr , to offer loans to businesses wanting to grow. Here are our predictions for the African fintech landscape this year. Cryptocurrencies Cryptocurrencies have reached a tipping point gaining strong traction. We believe we will continue to see an explosion this year. The case for cryptocurrency adoption in emerging markets remains strong. The worlds largest blockchain investor, Digital Currency Group (DCG) acquired SA-founded Luno last year, as a launch platform into emerging and other markets, and Luno now has over 6 million users on its platform. Digital payments 2020 was an inflection point for payments globally. Contactless and online payments came to the fore. There used to be nervousness around online payments, but consumers are embracing ecommerce. Oltio was bought by Ukheshe which plans to make QR payments ubiquitous. Also FNB Pay allows consumers to pay via phone at any terminal. We should see mass adoption of QR-, contactless- and mobile payments. 2021 will see mobile network operators like MTN and Vodacom, which have had many fits and starts in mobile payments, coming back aggressively and this might be the year they can mainstream payments on their platforms by partnering with fintechs. Consumers want mobile payment mechanisms as they dont want to touch cash. With a rise in digital payments, there is increased concern around online fraud. Payment providers will therefore be looking for identity authentication solutions, which positions businesses like Entersekt well in both local and international markets. Growth of digital platforms With people being confined to their homes and not buying new insurance via brokers, they now want to buy and have their policies serviced online. This was already a developing trend and 2020 was the tipping point. 2020 was a stellar year for OUTvest , Franc and Easy Equities. In fact, the pandemic and lockdown were a boon for Easy Equities, bumping new account openings from 300 per day to 2 000. Its counter-intuitive - you would think that when people have lost money, they wouldnt want to save but it forced people to start thinking about having a financial safety net and how to protect against future financial shocks. We therefore also saw more interest in robo-advisors. There was also massive uptake at Discovery Bank and TymeBank . Covid made people think about their future, they were stuck at home and they began experimenting with fintech platforms to shop around when they couldnt see their broker or go into a branch. In 2021 this trend will continue with furthergrowth of robo-advisors, digital banking and digital investment platforms. Fintechs vs the incumbents Whos going to win or is there space for everyone in fintech? We will see agile incumbents competing with the rising fintechs and insurtechs. The new entrants in banking, Tyme and Discovery; in insurance Naked and Pineapple , and in online investments OUTvest, Franc and Easy Equities, will continue to gain traction. Some of the incumbents will change to compete, and those that cant will become irrelevant. Incumbents like FNB and

mar 31 2021 6:52pm
newsarticle News : Mixed
Volvo and ECARX are teaming up to develop smart car software systems

Swedish premium car maker Volvo Cars will launch a joint venture with ECARX, a smart car technology startup co-founded by Geely's chairman, to develop in-car operation software systems, the companies said on Tuesday

mar 23 2021 10:48pm
mixed News : Mixed
HAVAIC launches a new fund after achieving a second close

is a joint venture between HAVAIC and Universum Wealth (an international investment management firm) experienced in listed and private markets. The startup was mired in legal wrangles with another South African startup in 2020. The legal dispute resulted in an amicable agreement. HAVAIC sued Custostech for $4.45-million on the grounds of reneging an investment agreement. More on Havaic Share

mar 5 2021 8:22pm
newsarticle News : Startups
Scientific research taking SA into the future

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has engulfed South Africa and the rest of the world for the past 10 months has highlighted the importance of investments by governments in science, technology and innovation. Evidence-based information has been at the heart of saving lives and developing a response to the deadly virus. In the production of reagents, diagnostics, personal protective equipment (PPE) and a vaccine, scientific research has been critical. The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), led by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has been an active participant in the government's Health Ministerial Advisory Committee, which was tasked with advising on the implementation of programmes to contain the pandemic and ensure the safety of all South Africans. Nzimande recently briefed the media on the DSI's efforts to prepare South Africa to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one becomes available. The Minister highlighted the fact that the infrastructure necessary for doing this already existed in the country thanks to work previously done by the department. The threat of future pandemics has thrust the country's ability to develop and manufacture vaccines locally into the spotlight. Government, through the DSI, owns a 47.5% stake in bio-pharmaceutical company Biovac as part of a joint venture with the private sector. Biovac has over the years developed the capability to manufacture vaccines. Investing in research Over the past two decades, the DSI has made huge investments in research and innovation that have enabled the country to respond effectively to COVID-19. These investments were made not only in the health care and related sectors, but also in other sectors as part of the DSI's efforts to become an innovative and inclusive department focused on improving the lives of all South Africans. It is now widely accepted that science, technology and innovation are key to unlocking people's potential and creating improved social conditions, a competitive economy and a workforce positioned to take the country into the future. In 2019, the DSI produced a new White Paper that laid out a core policy for driving science, technology, and innovation that delivers positive socio-economic outcomes through initiatives in fields including energy, health care, education, climate change, food security and manufacturing. The DSI will adopt a leadership role in this drive, acting as an enabler of innovations and scientific discoveries that will provide solutions needed to address a broad spectrum of societal needs today and in the future. In leading this endeavour, the DSI will draw on the work it has been doing over the past two decades. Innovations and interventions Not only has this work been crucial for empowering the best minds in the country today, it has also yielded numerous innovations and interventions that are now helping to modernise and improve society. These include the following: The Hydrogen SA programme, which is providing an alternative source of energy that is noiseless, effective and pollution-free. A number of mining innovations to modernise this sector. An additive manufacturing and titanium metal powder programme. The development of the world's largest and fastest 3D printer. The development of a technology, known as Aquatrip, that identifies water leaks and prevents wastage by means of an inbuilt control valve. The development of a compound that has been found to have potent activity against all stages of malaria. A range of new biotechnology solutions, including animal feed products and an injectable bone regeneration product. A wheat breeding programme that is producing drought-resistant crops for sustainable food production and nutrition, one of many innovations to modernise the agricultural sector to ensure food security and sustainable nutrition. The project to the build the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be the world's largest radio telescope and the largest scientific infrastructure on the African continent. Technological innovations in Earth observation that have enabled the provision of mapping data for use in spatial planning, disaster management, and the protection of our marine resources. The Department leads this and other work together with its entities, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), National Research Foundation (NRF), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), South African National Space Agency (SANSA), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP). Renaming the department</st

feb 4 2021 8:25pm
Ford terminates electric vehicle plans with China's Zotye

Ford Motor has decided to terminate plans to launch electric vehicle joint ventures with China's Zotye Automobile, the US auto giant said on Thursday

feb 4 2021 8:25pm
mixed News : Mixed
WATCH LIVE: Zondo inquiry hears Alexkor-related evidence

Witness Gavin Craythorne is a long-term contractor to Alexkor and to a mining joint venture between Alexkor and the Alexander Bay community.

jan 11 2021 6:16pm
business News : Mixed
R&B star Akon enters Congo mining sector in JV with state company

A company led by American-Senegalese R&B singer Akon has signed a deal to finance a copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a joint venture with a state miner, according to a contract published by the mines ministry.

jan 7 2021 9:54pm
business News : Mixed
Ford, Mahindra Call Off joint Venture

jan 5 2021 8:45am
mixed News : News
Nigerian Shell employees orchestrated oil spills for own profit

Employees at Royal Dutch Shell's Nigerian joint venture orchestrated damage to oil pipelines to profit from the money spent on clean-up operations, Dutch investigative TV programme Zembla reported on Thursday.

dec 10 2020 6:43pm
mixed News : Mixed
Impey quits as SANZAAR chairman, calls for 'fundamental change'

Impey has spent the last five years as chairman of SANZAAR, a joint venture between the South African, Australian, New Zealand and Argentine rugby unions that runs the Rugby Championship test and Super Rugby provincial competitions.

nov 17 2020 6:30pm
sports News : Mixed