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Africa’s Digital Economy poised to explode as regional integration opens new markets

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: ibrahimmayaki.com
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

With Africa’s digital economy taking off exponentially, the continent must ready itself to maximize the potential dividends of the Continental Free Trade Area agreement, panel members told a packed auditorium in Kigali at the opening of Transform Africa Summit 2019 on Tuesday.

Key to this effort will be connectivity, data and digitization and innovation among others, conference attendees heard.

“Africa can achieve a digital single market…It is a journey and we need to break it up into doable bits, “African Development Bank Vice-president, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization Pierre Guislain, said, adding that the European Union had demonstrated that it could be achieved.

Other members of the panel Lacina Kone, Director General / CEO of Smart Africa, the conference organizers, Fatoumata Ba, CEO Janngo, Nic Rudnick, CEO Liquid Telecom Group and Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa, World Economic Forum, shared similar sentiments.

This year’s summit which is themed Boosting Africa’s Digital Economy, aims to showcase success stories in the African digital economy and promote homegrown businesses, innovations, solutions and partnerships.

In a special intervention from the audience, World Bank Digital Director Dr. Boutheina Guermazi said:

“ICT and digital literacy is not a luxury. It is an integral part of how we view development,” adding that the foundations of the digital economy – connectivity, data and voice, would depend on a fully integrated digital infrastructure.

With the ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, the possibility of new markets offer tantalizing new avenues for tech start-ups and e-businesses and a combined GDP of over $600 billion.

The internet has opened doors to access information and technology, a key component of accelerating the pace of the digital economy and connecting markets. Interconnection and interoperability create bigger markets which in turn attract investors.

The mobile phone industry is an example of the dynamism of the sector in Africa. Mobile phone subscriptions have grown in Africa from 87 million in 2005 to 760 million in 2017, growing 20% per annum. This is the fastest growing market in the world as well as the one with the most potential. Mobile network coverage ranges from 10 to 99% in Africa– an average of 70%.

Africa’s pioneering efforts in the FInTech space are illustrated by the fact that around half the world’s mobile money providers operate in sub-Saharan Africa, where as many as 80% of adults have a mobile phone. By 2020, the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to top $14bn.

Single window schemes and One Stop Border Posts will accelerate intra-African trade, Guislain said, but openness and competition need to be promoted and defended. Indeed, some vested interests may fear this openness and do whatever they can to keep it from happening. We need to measure the speed of movement along Africa’s major trade corridors and ensure any remaining bottleneck gets removed, he added.

Africa also needs more private sector African champions – companies that have done well nationally and are ready to expand regionally and beyond.

“Business needs to be more of a driver. Domestic African private sector needs to go outside its borders to develop value chains…Africa has shown it can deliver,” Guislain said.

The 2019 Summit aims to provide practical ways to advance the commitments of African governments and partners to transform Africa into a fully digitized economy where technology is harnessed to fully reap the benefits of Pan-African integration efforts.

The Summit was formally opened by Rwandan Prime minister Dr. Ngirente Edouard, who talked about Rwanda’sambitious plan to prioritize digital literacy for all youth by 2024. “We expect to achieve at least 60% by 2024,” he said.

Bank President Akinwumi Adesina will attend the official opening of the summit on Wednesday by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

An estimated 4,000 visitors from over 90 countries are expected for the three-day meeting which has become the continent’s premier digital technology summit. The next two days will see the launch of a Smart Africa Digital Economy Mapping Report, and a Smart Africa Women’s summit as well as several interactive plenaries.

SOURCE African Development Bank (AfDB)

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Artificial Intelligence

360Quadrants Recognizes IBM, Microsoft and Salesforce as Visionary Leaders in the AI in Fintech Space

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: aithority.com
Reading Time: 2 minutes

AI in Fintech solutions are used by enterprises to perform finance-related tasks that traditionally require human intelligence. These solutions leverage AI-equipped technology to allow the financial sector to design better investment strategies, swiftly detect anomalies, recognize patterns in data, implement voice recognition, and engage in thorough market analysis. Simply put, the AI in Fintech market hosts vendors that provide AI-enabled Fintech solutions.

360Quadrants the most granular comparison platform has released a quadrant on AI in Fintech Solutions to help businesses make quicker and more informed decisions. The quadrant has IBMMicrosoft and Salesforce sharing space as Visionary Leaders. 360Quadrants are generated post analysis of companies (product portfolios and business strategy). Quadrants will be updated every three months based on market and regional analysis and developments in AI in Fintech.

AI in Fintech Solutions Quadrant Highlights

360Quadrants covers 79 companies in the AI in Fintech Solutions space and places the top 44 of them in a quadrant depending on their quality, reliability, and business outcome. These 44 companies are categorized into Visionary Leaders, Dynamic Differentiators, Emerging Companies, and Innovators.

360Quadrants recognizes Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick, Amazon AWS Alexa, Salesforce Einstein, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite, and IBM Watson Platform as Visionary Leaders; IPSoft Amelia, ComplyAdvantage, Nuance Virtual Assistance, Inbenta InbentaBot, Digital Reasoning Conduct Surveillance as Innovators; Samsung and Microstrategy HyperIntelligence as Dynamic Differentiators; and DataRobot, Razorthink Big Brain, Numenta HTM for Stocks suite, Anodot AI Analytics, Brighterion Smart Agents, Kasisto Kai BankingNext IT AlmeZestFinance ZAML, Ayasdi Enterprise AI, Voyager Analytics, AlphaSense and Wallet. AI as Emerging Companies. The 360Quadrants platform provides the most granular AI in Fintech Solutions comparisons between vendors.

Additionally, 360Quadrants has dived deep into research and released a niche region-specific quadrant. This quadrant recognizes the top player in the market in specific regions. The regional quadrant covers North AmericaEuropeAsia PacificMEA, and Latin America. Intensive research was conducted to place companies in regional quadrants based on their developments, presence—both online and physical—and support/reach in specific regions. IBM Watson, Salesforce, and Microsoft are recognized as Visionary Leaders across regions. In the North America and Asia Pacific regions, Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick is recognized as a Visionary Leader by 360Quadrants. Finally, for Latin America and MEA, 360Quadrants recognizes AWS as a Visionary Leader.

Methodology

The methodology used to rank AI in Fintech Solutions companies involved the use of extensive secondary research to identify key vendors by referring to annual reports, press releases, investor presentations, white papers, and various related directories and databases. 44 key vendors were shortlisted based on their breadth of product offerings, organization size, and other criteria. The scores and weights for shortlisted vendors against each parameter were finalized post research.  After the finalization of ratings, each vendor was placed in the most relevant quadrant based on their score in the product offering and business strategy parameters.

 

SOURCE 360Quadrants

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Fintech

Infinicept Achieves 5X Growth Putting FinTech and SaaS Companies on the Fast Track as Payment Facilitators

Vlad Poptamas

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Infinicept co-founder and co-CEO Todd Ablowitz discusses how FinTech and software as a service (SaaS) companies worldwide are realizing they can provide a better customer experience and dramatically increase revenues and valuation by becoming a payment facilitator.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

As the payment facilitator market continues its trajectory of nearly 80% CAGR, representing $500 billion in total transaction volume by 2021, Infinicept is quickly capturing market share as the first and only open, agnostic payment facilitator platform. Since the company’s launch in 2012, Infinicept has helped fast track over 200 payment facilitators by offering consulting services and products that greatly reduce the time it takes to embed payment acceptance into software offerings. This momentum continues in 2019 as Infinicept records 500 percent growth in revenue and customer acquisition.

Recognizing the potential for further growth, Mastercard has invited Infinicept to join Start Path, a six month program that connects innovative later-stage startups to Mastercard’s global ecosystem.

“Having evaluated 10,000 startups from across the globe, we are always adding ground-breaking entrepreneurs to our network of innovators,” said Amy Neale, Mastercard vice president and global lead for Start Path. “Mastercard Start Path companies today are later-stage startups reaching unicorn status, entering the public markets and co-creating with world-renowned financial services firms to deliver real solutions for consumers.”

As the payment facilitator model matures, hundreds of thousands FinTech and software as a service (SaaS) companies worldwide are realizing they can provide a better customer experience and increase revenues and valuation by becoming a payment facilitator. The main obstacle being the time it takes to become a payment facilitator and the risks that come with onboarding submerchants. Payment Facilitator in a Box™ was developed by Infinicept to provide companies with the merchant underwriting and back office platform they need to easily get up and running—in weeks, not years.

Infinicept has already attracted customers in a variety of vertical markets who recognize the benefits and return on investment (ROI) this payment model offers.  Signed customers include businesses in retail, food and beverage, healthcare, real estate, events and many more.

“Within the healthcare industry, there is a huge demand for a more positive payment experience. Patients expect modern, intuitive payment tools and large health systems need the flexibility to respond to their patients’ financial needs by rolling out consumer-friendly payment options across their enterprise,” said Alan Nalle, Chief Strategy Officer of Patientco. “Leveraging Infinicept’s innovative Payment Facilitator in a Box™, Patientco simplifies the complexities of implementing, managing and scaling new payment technology for health systems while providing a superior financial experience that today’s patients expect.”

“FinTech and SaaS companies see the value of integrating merchant acceptance, underwriting, onboarding and back office operations into their products, but in order to do that, they need a supporting platform that reduces the complexities of it and works with any bank, processor, gateway or CRM they choose,” said Deana Rich, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Infinicept. “Achieving 500 percent revenue growth and joining the Mastercard Start Path program confirms Infinicept is on the right path to fill a critical market need for FinTech and SaaS companies. Our engineering team and partners have done a great job delivering a dynamic suite of open and automated services that provide an operational backbone for any company looking to take the simple path to becoming a payment facilitator.”

 

SOURCE Infinicept

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Fintech

Guaranteed Rate Appoints Suk Shah as Chief Financial Officer

Vlad Poptamas

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Guaranteed Rate Appoints Suk Shah as Chief Financial Officer
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 Guaranteed Rate, one of the largest retail mortgage lenders in the nation, has hired Suk Shah as its Chief Financial Officer to accelerate growth. As Guaranteed Rate continues to break monthly volume records, it has been named one of 2019 Chicago’s largest privately held companies, reporting nearly $24 Billionof overall loan volume in 2018 alone.

“Suk is a huge hire for Guaranteed Rate and is a perfect cultural fit,” said Founder & CEO Victor Ciardelli. “With an extensive background as a FinTech CFO, he brings a ton of experience to the company, including areas such as mergers and acquisitions.”

As CFO, Shah will lead and oversee Guaranteed Rate’s focus on profitability and efficiency, while supporting various growth strategies and initiatives. Shah’s presence will enable Guaranteed Rate to expand the company’s product, technology and service solutions that will further enable the business to drive revenue growth and margin expansion across the organization.

“Guaranteed Rate is a pioneer in the digital mortgage industry and is uniquely positioned as an industry leader to drive mortgage volume and revenue through its innovative products and services,” said Shah. “I’m looking forward to joining this highly tenured and passionate leadership team to make a transformative impact for the company.”

Shah joins the Guaranteed Rate team from his former position of nearly five years at a high-growth financial technology company, where he helped raise over $600 million in equity and $4 billion in debt capital. Before that, Suk was the CFO of the US and Canadian divisions of a Global Commercial Bank where he oversaw a $40 billion loan and deposit. Shah began his career with General Electric and spent over eight years with the company in various finance and operating roles, helping to execute business priorities and deliver financial commitments.

Shah has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Information Systems from the University of Illinois and an Executive MBA from Northwestern University.  He lives in Hinsdale, Ill., with his wife and two children.

Guaranteed Rate has delivered competitive pricing, mortgage products and unmatched expertise from its top-producing loan officers, helping thousands of customers move into their dream homes. The Company introduced the market’s first Digital Mortgage, creating an easy-to-understand, transparent loan process, which has led to an industry-leading customer satisfaction rating and exponential growth.

 

SOURCE Guaranteed Rate

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