There is a real opportunity in Africa to fundamentally change how more than a billion people pay for goods and services. Fintech start-ups that focus on the continent will find a certain complexity but virtually no competition.
However, the lack of legacy means Africa is a greenfield opportunity for fintech. Entrenched issues continue to prevent the spread of traditional banking, quite in contrast to Western markets where fintech products and services compete with established trillion-dollar enterprises that benefit from consumer and merchant saturation and established digital payment habits. Eighty percent of Africans don’t have a bank account, but they have a phone, and for most that will soon be a smartphone. When faced with a choice of cash, or nothing, digital access to your money presents an immediate benefit to consumers who otherwise ferry cashwages between home and banks on public transport over large distances. It is inefficient, costly and a security hazard. More problems arise with identity and reputation management, debt enforcement, credit scoring, access to financial products like insurance and even savings.