Fintech has become a big deal in South Africa in the last couple of years. A large part of the African population is unbanked (They do no use the services of traditional banking systems).
Because of this, an implementation of new ways to approach these problems became relevant, that’s when the Fintech companies stepped in. Especially in South Africa the demand for innovative products and new, digital solutions for financial issues have been pushing South African Fintech companies forward. In 2015 alternative finance platforms raised $15 million, a major part of it was coming directly from peer-to-peer consumer and business lending, the remaining was raised through donations. Only 3 years after, in 2018 the raised money for South African startups had risen from $15 to $168.6 million. With this number, Fintech in South Africa and generally on the whole African continent remains to be on the top position with the most funding. Therefore it is not surprising that there are startups in South Africa that the whole world needs to look for in 2019.
Wind of change for South Africa
Fintech definitely is a new wind for South Africa that will have a huge impact on the country’s economic development. The SA government is well aware of it, that is why the South African Reserve bank (SARB) established a fintech-unit in January. The unit consists of three people with the main task to monitor the fintech sector and its effect on traditional banking methods. Since 2009 South Africa has been adopting a pro-innovative stance. At that time, the South African Reserve Bank had issued a paper on digital money and stated that it welcomed the innovative solutions in the financial sector. The government even launched a Fintech Program to analyze fintech development and help policymakers to formulate a legal framework for the new, digital era in finances.
Most of the fintech startups in South Africa are concentrated on the five major banking functions: payments, capital raising, deposits, lending, investment management, and market provisioning. As for the other side of fintech which is focused on investment, asset and wealth management, the activity from the startups in South Africa is minimal, but with the rapid growth of innovative services it is possible that soon SA fintech companies will start providing these digital services as well, once the traditional banking services are covered. Now let us present the most exciting South African fintech companies that the world needs to look at in 2019.
Jumo is one of the biggest and fastest growing startups in South Africa. The company is providing traditional banking services with an innovative digital way through its JUMO app to the unbanked population of Africa. The company has grown from just 7 employees in 2015 to 300 in 2017. They have several offices in Cape Town, Nairobi, Portugal and are expanding in the Asian market in 2019. Last year, JUMO became the first startup from South Africa that was chosen by Google for its launchpad accelerator. South African Fintech startup JUMO seems to have big plans for the future and is definitely worth the attention.
Yoco is arguably one of the biggest venture capital deals that were announced in South Africa in 2018. It is a startup focused on making card payment processes easier with an aim to help small businesses get paid, run the business better and grow it. In September the company announced that it raised $16 million and got funding from Silicon Valley-based VC firm Partech. The company also had a series of funding in 2017 and with this, they have seen rapid growth from the first two years of the company. The startup is growing daily and promises big changes in the payment systems for small businesses.
The Sun Exchange is a very interesting Blockchain startup to keep an eye on. The Cape Town-based startup leverages Blockchain technology and makes it available for individuals to purchase solar cells in solar projects. The startup raised $1.6 million in October, and in several months they raised over $2.8 million. They are aiming to raise a total $25 million in an ICO that kicked off in April. Besides that, the startup won the French Development Agency (AFD) Blockchain challenge in the previous year. In addition to that, they have announced that in October they received a $500,000 seed investment from Alphabet which is a multi-million-dollar US hedge fund (and the owner of Google).