Six African-focused startups alongside 6 others have been selected for the final stages of the 2020 AFI Inclusive FinTech Showcase.
Later this month, they will present to AFI’s membership their innovative solutions that are helping to address the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and that will shape the future of financial inclusion.
Selected from a large number of applications, representatives from each financial technology and regulatory technology (RegTech) company will pitch their pioneering product to a panel of expert judges in virtual sessions on 26-27 November.
Due to ongoing travel restrictions amid COVID-19, this year’s showcase will be held online, providing the finalists with a new set of possibilities and opportunities.
First, second and third-placed finalists will be invited to participate in AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue platform and be awarded a one-year membership to Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), which provides practical training, education, and research services for the FinTech community.
All 12 finalists will have the opportunity to be featured in a special AFI report highlighting how their solutions contribute to financial inclusion and COVID-19 response, which will be disseminated across the AFI network, the wider financial inclusion community and beyond.
Furthermore, they will be invited to a special dialogue session with AFI members hosting the Pacific Regional Regulatory Sandbox, the world’s first regional sandbox, and have access to mentoring and training on pitching to investors and presenting business models provided by LHoFT.
From multinationals to start-ups, the finalists operate in every corner of the globe using groundbreaking technology to bring financial services to unbanked and underbanked populations.
The finalists offer innovative solutions in AFI’s member countries in at least one of the following nine themes:
- Financing for youth entrepreneurs
- Supporting micro, small and medium enterprises through the COVID-19 crisis
- Digital payments in the crisis response
- Innovative cross border payments and remittances
- Financial health and lifetime planning
- Digital identity for disadvantaged groups
- Digital financial literacy
- Green digital inclusion
- RegTech/supervisory technology for central banks
In line with AFI’s groundbreaking work in gender-inclusive finance, the finalists were also assessed on their contributions to women’s financial inclusion and closing the gender gap in access to formal financial services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged FinTech innovators to develop solutions which can provide a lifeline to vulnerable populations at a time of acute economic dislocation. However, valuable learnings and practices developed and implemented prior to the global pandemic are a great foundation for further innovation.
“We are pleased to receive a strong response to the showcase this year from global innovators with practical solutions to share with AFI’s membership, which translate into a significant contribution to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as SDG 1- No Poverty, SDG 5 – Gender Equality, SDG 17 – Partnerships for Goals,” said AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig.
With a good foundation to further innovate with valuable learnings available from the time before the global pandemic, AFI is looking forward to advancing regulator-innovator dialogue to support enabling policy environment for inclusive innovation, Dr Hannig added
The 2020 AFI Inclusive FinTech Showcase is an initiative under the 2018 Sochi Accord with AFI’s membership committed to “create and participate in platforms for systemic dialogue and partnership among regulators and policymakers with FinTech companies and technology providers”.
It is supported through AFI’s Multi-Donor Financial Inclusion Policy Implementation Facility (MD-PIF), with participation of French Development Agency (AFD), the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Ministry of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Meet the Africa-focused fintech startups for AFI Inclusive Fintech Showcase
Arifu is a Kenya-based social enterprise launched in 2015 that provides a smart personal learning assistant and content marketplace. The interactive learning platform allows both smart and feature phone users to learn via SMS, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Its chatbot allows users to learn new skills, discover products and services and earn rewards.
Founded in 2013, Beyonic provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other organizations with digital payments toolbox that provides an alternative to cash payments. It promotes business continuity and sustainable growth through remote payment and collection functionality in over nine markets in Africa through a range of last-mile delivery channels that include unstructured supplementary service data for feature phones and open application programming interfaces for apps.
Mosabi’s platform blends FinTech and education technology with artificial intelligence-driven business and life skills electronic learning for underserved citizens and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets. Through gamified lessons and unique journeys, users can learn about managing their business and money. Mosabi also connects users with relevant partner financial providers and platforms.
People’s Pension Trust
People’s Pension Trust, another of 2019’s finalists, provides pension products to people working in the formal and informal sector with the aim of reducing old-age poverty across Africa. A subsidiary of the Netherlands-based People’s Pension Holding, its goal is to provide affordable pension products to four million people in the informal sector by 2027.
Started in 2016, Pezesha is a capital enabler platform that connects underserved SMEs to working capital among other financial services. It also provides financial education that sees banks, microfinance institutions and other financial institutions or networks matched with SMEs using their proprietary credit scoring technology. From its headquarters in Kenya, Pezesha aims to tackle the financing gap for small businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.
Proto’s conversational artificial intelligence solution automates consumer protection for central banks and financial supervisory authorities across Southeast Asia and Africa. Proto, another of last year’s finalists, aims to overcome the manual limitations of complaints processing and financial misconduct monitoring. It uses SMS and social messaging apps to provide channels for bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers.