Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest-growing investment zones for financial technology companies, according the trade body that represents the interests of global mobile network operators.
The GSM Association (GSMA) says in its Mobile Economy, Sub-Saharan Africa 2019 report that the region will remain the fastest growing worldwide.
Predicting a total subscriber base of over 600 million by 2025, which represents approximately half the population, Sub-Saharan Africa will become a flagship for mobile disruption.
According to Mike Smits, co-founder of the uKheshe micro transaction platform, the unbanked are one of the driving forces behind this growth.
“Mastercard reports that while around 1.2 billion adults opened bank accounts for the first time over the past decade, 1.7 billion remain outside the formal banking sector worldwide,” Smits says.
“Our challenge, as a continent, is to reach these ‘unbanked’ individuals and better understand, as financial service providers, why they opt to stay in the informal sector.”
Smits says since the launch of uKheshe 10 months ago, the plight for financial inclusion has become glaringly obvious. “While progress has been made in terms of mobile money, it’s become imperative that we move beyond that and look into digital payment solutions.
“What we have realised is that financial inclusion is not just about technology disruption, but more about solving greater economic problems.”
He says consumers need simpler, more cost-effective ways to do simple tasks, such as sending or receiving money and buying airtime.
Mobile operators on the continent have over the past few years been entrenching themselves in the financial services sector to cover the unbanked and make transactions simpler.
Last week, MTN Group announced its fintech transactions reached R666 billion ($44 billion) in the six months to June.
The JSE-listed telco says its fintech strategy is starting to pay off, reporting a 30.7% hike – customer growth went up 8.9% to 30 million, while active Mobile Money (MoMo) users and average revenue per user is pegged at R19.60 ($1.30).
The total value of fintech transactions in the first half of the year to June reached a peak of $44 billion and the company processed 9 193 transactions per minute.
The mobile operator has been actively pushing to be a dominant force in the financial services space on the continent.
M-Pesa in Kenya remains the mobile money business case study of payment innovation in emerging markets. It was launched 12 years ago.
In Southern Africa, EcoCash is a success story in Zimbabwe. It is a mobile payment platform hosted by local telco Econet. EcoCash is an offshoot of Cassava Smartech, an entity that offers more financial services than mobile money, including remittances, digital banking and all kinds of insurance.
The GSMA report adds that in 2018, mobile technologies and services generated 4.6% of GDP globally, a contribution that amounted to $3.9 trillion of economic value added.
“The mobile ecosystem also supported almost 32 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with more than $500 billion raised through general taxation”
According to the GSMA report, by 2023, mobile’s contribution is forecast to reach $4.8 trillion (4.8% of GDP) as countries around the globe increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services.
Further ahead, the report says 5G technologies are expected to contribute $2.2 trillion to the global economy over the next 15 years, with key sectors such as manufacturing, utilities and professional/financial services benefiting the most from the new technology.
At the end of 2018, 3.6 billion people were connected to the mobile Internet, the report says, representing an increase of just over 300 million compared to the previous year. However, more than four billion people remain offline.
Further, it says around a billion of these are not covered by mobile broadband networks (the ‘coverage gap’), while around three billion live within the footprint of a network but are not accessing mobile Internet services (the ‘usage gap’).
“Over the next few years, as the enablers of mobile Internet adoption (infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content/services) continue to improve, millions of people will start using the mobile Internet for the first time. By 2025, five billion people across the globe (more than 60% of the population) will use the mobile Internet,” reads the report.
NAICOM Urges State Governments to Implement Compulsory Insurance
The National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, is seeking collaboration especially from State Governments on implementation and enforcement of compulsory insurance.
Speaking during a meeting with the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, the Commissioner for Insurance Sunday Thomas, noted that over the years, the Commission has embarked on series of programs aimed at a nationwide massive public enlightenment with respect to compliance with the laws on compulsory insurance.
As a subset of the Financial Services Industry, Insurance industry is a pivot to guarantee the sustainability of growth and development of the State and its people, said Thomas, adding, We have therefore noted the necessity to plant “Insurance” and “People” at the center of any equation that tends to create, enhance, sustain and manage growth and development in any economy.”
He said: “As a people, human activities have associated risks and in spite of every precautionary measure to avoid the occurrence of losses or damages, the unexpected still occur.
“In consequence of the losses the victims are prone to sufferings which in many cases may lead to total impoverishment of a large proportion of those affected. To ameliorate the situation of victims, laws have been put in place for an arrangement that will ensure that victims and especially third parties are adequately compensated.”
According to him, “the objectives of protecting third parties and relieving the government of the avoidable burden of compensation from the meagre wallet of the government led to the enactment of various laws on compulsory insurance products”.
Thomas listed the Compulsory Insurances to include, all buildings under construction that are more than two (2) floors (builders liability); all Public Buildings including Schools, offices, hotels, hospitals, markets (occupiers liability) etc; Group Life Insurance for all Employees of both Public and Private Sectors; Professional Indemnity for all Medical Practitioners and Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance in respect of death, injury or damage to the property of third parties.
The Commissioner added that it is on the strength of the above that the Commission is seeking collaboration with the State government in the enforcement of the above mentioned compulsory insurances in the State.
“As the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum there is no better place to start the campaign than Ekiti State.” he said.
He also highlighted the benefits of this collaboration with State Governments, which include, Financial Compensation to the families of insured citizens who may become victims of a disaster through loss of their properties or become disabled in event of occurrence of insured accidents/disasters, robust group life insurance policy made compulsory by the Pension Reform Act 2014 gives hope to the workforce who will be ready to go extra mile in carrying out assign duties knowing fully well that the employer has made provision for the dependant in event of the unexpected and creation of employment opportunities for citizens of the State.
Others are provision of grants and Fire-Fighting Equipment for the States’ Fire Services by NAICOM from the Fire Fund as stipulated in the Insurance Act 2003, reduction in the government expenditure in event of disaster that may affect the citizens of the State by shifting the burden to the risk-bearers (Insurance Companies), free Insurance and Risk Management Education and Enlightenment programme for the citizens of the State; and creation of additional source of internally generated revenue (IGR) for State Government in collaboration with your relevant Ministries and Agencies.
He therefore appealed to the Governor to graciously consider the benefits of the proposed collaboration for the enrichment of the State and the sustainability of the Nigeria economy at large.
The Commissioner also requested the Governor to domesticate the compulsory insurances in the State and create a structure that can be supported by NAICOM in the enforcement of the compulsory insurances and also nominate an Agency of the Government that will serve as liaison office with the Commission in this collaboration.
“The nominated agency may be requested to work with the Team of the state who shall be dedicated to this collaboration and recommend appropriate measure to domesticate the enforcement of the compulsory insurances in the State.” he said.
CBN Disburses N3.5tr COVID-19 Intervention Cash
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had disbursed N3.5 trillion to different sectors of the economy to cushion the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It will also contribute N1.8 trillion into the N2.30 trillion Federal Government’s one-year Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) through its Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs).
Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor stated this on Tuesday after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.
Emefiele gave a breakdown of who got what out of the N3.5 trillion COVID-19 intervention as follows: Real Sector (N216.87 billion); COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility (N73.69 billion); Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (N54.66 billion); Pharmaceutical and Health Care Support (N44.47 billion); and Creative Industry Financing (N2.93 billion).
Under the Real Sector Funds, Emefiele said: “a total of 87 projects that include 53 manufacturing, 21 agriculture and 13 service projects were funded.
He added: “In the health care sector, 41 projects which include 16 pharmaceuticals and 25 hospital and health care services were funded.”
The CBN boss also said: “Under the Targeted Credit Facility, 120,074 applicants received financial support for investment capital.
“The AGSMEIS intervention has been extended to a total of 14,638 applicants, while 250 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), predominantly the youth, have benefited from the Creative Industry Financing Initiative.”
Emefiele said in addition to the initiatives, the apex bank “is set to contribute over N1.8 trillion of the total sum of N2.30 trillion needed for the one year ESP, through its various financing interventions using the PFIs.”
Banks Fingered in $2trn Dirty Money Scam
Some of the world’s top banks have been found to be complicit in aiding criminals move $2 trillion in dirty money around the world, according to leaked government files.
The exposition was done by Buzzfeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a group that brings together investigative journalists from around the world, which distributed them to 108 news organisations in 88 countries.
In the revealing documents, they said: “global banks including JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, among others defied money laundering crackdowns by moving staggering sums of illicit cash for shadowy characters and criminal networks that have spread chaos and undermined democracy around the world.”
It was also revealed that they kept profiting from these powerful and dangerous players even after the United States authorities fined these financial institutions for earlier failures to stem flows of dirty money.
FinCEN is the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. These are the people at the US Treasury who combat financial crime. Concerns about transactions made in US dollars need to be sent to FinCEN, even if they took place outside the US.
Known as the FinCEN files, these are more than 2,600 documents which banks sent to the US authorities between 2000 and 2017 which help show that these banks raise concerns about what their clients might be doing.
They have also been regarded as some of the international banking system’s most closely guarded secrets.
Some of what has been found so far showed that JPMorgan, the largest bank based in the United States, moved money for people and companies tied to the massive looting of public funds in Malaysia, Venezuela and Ukraine, the leaked documents reveal.
The bank moved more than $1 billion for the fugitive financier behind Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal, the records show, and more than $2 million for a young energy mogul’s company that has been accused of cheating Venezuela’s government and helping cause electrical blackouts that crippled large parts of the country.
JPMorgan also processed more than $50 million in payments over a decade, the records show, for Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump. The bank shuttled at least $6.9 million in Manafort transactions in the 14 months after he resigned from the campaign amid a swirl of money laundering and corruption allegations spawning from his work with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
It was also revealed that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest associates used Barclays bank in London to avoid sanctions which were meant to stop him from using financial services in the West. Some of the cash was used to buy works of art.
HSBC allowed fraudsters to transfer millions of dollars around the world even after it had learned of their scam, leaked secret files show.
Britain’s biggest bank moved the money through its US business to HSBC accounts in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014.
The United Arab Emirates’ central bank failed to act on warnings about a local firm which was helping Iran evade sanctions.
Deutsche Bank moved money launderers’ dirty money for organised crime, terrorists and drug traffickers.
Standard Chartered moved cash for Arab Bank for more than a decade after clients’ accounts at the Jordanian bank had been used in funding terrorism.
The FinCEN Files represent less than 0.02 per cent of the more than 12 million suspicious activity reports that financial institutions filed with FinCEN between 2011 and 2017.
Mr Fergus Shiel from ICIJ said the leaked files were an “insight into what banks know about the vast flows of dirty money across the globe”. He said the documents also highlighted the extraordinarily large amounts of money involved.
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