Ecobank, the pan-African banking group, has highlighted the complementary role of fintech in financial inclusion on the continent, saying that fintech has helped boost inclusion rate to 34 percent.
In an announcement of its role as sponsor of the 2018 Africa Tech Summit, which opens Today, Wednesday, February 14, 2018, in Kigali Rwanda, the bank indicated that although over 80 percent of Africans have mobile phones, only around one quarter (28%) of them have a bank account.
“But mobile banking and e-wallets are helping to break the banking logjam, offering a range of alternative payment methods as well as lending and savings services. This has boosted the overall financial inclusion rate to 34 percent, and it is growing each day,” a statement said.
Despite the impressive run of fintech on the continent, Ecobank said there are still major barriers to the wider use of the new technology, including attitudes and approaches towards innovation among Africans, and poor Internet access, as well as high cost of downloading data
The bank said it is working with e-commerce, small business, and consumers – through their mobile banking app and other e-products – to help organisations and individuals overcome these barriers and stimulate wider usage.
Edward George, head of the UK representative office of Ecobank and group research, is expected to give a keynote address at the opening of the summit where he will look at the acceleration of disruptive technology in Africa – technological innovations that are causing a step change in the way we do business and transact – and describe some of the latest banking & tech innovations that are helping individuals and businesses to meet the challenges.
“Nearly all the growth in financial inclusion since 2011 has been due to mobile banking services,” said George, adding that with around 100 million users of e-wallets, Africans account for around half (57.6%) of all mobile wallets in the world.
“However, people are often stuck in their ways – whether a market trader or top executive – and the challenge is to change the mindset and open them up to the opportunities of digital.
“Disruptive technology is about recognising these challenges and seeing technology as an enabler, not a panacea, and by adopting innovations to the reality on the ground. That is what we are doing at Ecobank to help businesses and individuals take the digital leapfrog,” he stressed.
The Africa Tech summit takes place on 14 and 15 February in Kigali, Rwanda. It will explore the latest trends in digital technology with some 250 key African and international tech leaders from across the continent.
Other speakers will include Alice Kilonzo Zulu, managing director of Ecobank Rwanda, who will talk about Ecobank e-commerce and how cashless innovations are spurring SME growth, and Nshuti Mbabazi, vice president, Push Payments at Ecobank, who will look at how Ecobank’s digital strategy is helping deliver the cashless society in Africa.