Ghana, played host to the continent’s finest young innovators in the financial and technological industry including banks, telecommunication companies, entrepreneurs, and other financial players, in the Fintech sector.
The first annual African Fintech Unconference held last Thursday at the La Beach Hotel in Accra, enabled fintech companies engage in smarter partnerships in a fast-moving industry that is ripe for consolidation in Ghana and across Africa.
Fintech companies are platforms, where people are allowed to use mobile phones and other technologies, to move money across without necessarily going to the bank to transact businesses.
The sector, which is gaining grounds in Ghana, according to organizers, has the potential to get even better if players come together to explore the fertile areas.
The programme themed, “Mapping the African Fintech Landscape” was to create awareness among the African fintech ecosystem and enable collaboration for smarter partnerships that drive the next wave of fintech innovation in Africa.
Speaking on the sidelines of the two day programme, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IT Consortium, Romeo Bugyei, said Fintech companies need partnership with financial companies to grow.
He empathized “Fintech companies can’t work independently”.
He said, even though the sector has structural issues, he wouldn’t advocate that government regulates Fintech operations now but instead allow it to grow in the mean time. At the initial stage, people found it difficult to appreciate their operations but with time, “people are getting to understand it and even now, some banks have units for it”.
“I don’t think government should regulate us now in order to make space for innovation. The mobile money [business] is spreading but we are not yet there”, he said.
According to him, though they are not regulated, their operation is known by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and also Banks control activities of their partners which means that they are indirectly being checked.
The experienced IT Solutions expert and Software developer, said the market for fintech companies, especially in Africa was big and so they should be allowed to be innovative.
“We should be allowed to innovate”, he said, adding “I believe in allowing the market to grow”, Mr Bugyei.
He argued that, if the African market was opened to all, the platform could be cheaper, because the number of merchants for these companies, will be bigger and so the charges for accessing their service will automatically be cheaper.
“The other African countries should open their doors. The more we are allowed to operate in the other countries, the cheaper it will be”, he said.
Mr. Bugyei, said events such as this was important as it will help them “to pull our resources together, build on our strength and move together”.
Deputy Project Manager of the Financial Inclusion on Business Runaway (FIBR) project co-host of the programme, David del Ser, said regulators needed new ways and skills, systems and approaches, to regulate the industry.
David said, the sector is currently working with four different companies in four sectors of the economy namely, the cocoa sector, energy, education etc. According to him, Fintech platform is “a promising sector” adding that Accra is the capital of Fintech, describing the number of platforms here as “large”.
The African Fintech Unconference is an event driven by the agenda of African fintech innovators and entrepreneurs, focusing on their reality and challenges — an event concept that was designed with the African fintech innovator in mind.
The event served as a space for open dialogue and collaboration. To that point, the African Fintech Unconference, followed a more fluid programme where, after a keynote address and panel discussion, attendees self-organized to share and discuss topics most pertinent to them in an open and transparent environment.