Ecobank launches 2021 edition of its fintech challenge for African startups

The pan-African banking group, Ecobank group, is inviting African fintech entrepreneurs to join the 4th edition of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge.

The Fintech Challenge is in line with the Bank’s commitment to championing digitization by giving innovative African startups the opportunity to promote their fintech solutions. The startups can potentially partner with Ecobank to scale their solutions across Ecobank’s 33 African markets as well as its international operations in France.  

All selected Finalists will be inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship following the Finals and Awards ceremony slated for November 2021. The selected top three winners will receive cash prizes worth $15,000, $12,000 and $10,000 respectively. All Fellows will however qualify to explore the following opportunities with the bank:

  • Multinational product roll out: an opportunity to pursue integration with Ecobank and potentially launch products in parts of Ecobank’s Pan African 33-country ecosystem.
  • Service provider partnerships:  Ecobank may select start-ups as pan-African service partner within the bank’s ecosystem.
  • Access to Ecobank’s Pan-African Banking Sandbox: Fellows will be given access to Ecobank’s APIs to test and improve their products for the pan-African market.
  • Mentoring and networking support in the network of global and African partners of the Group.
  • Priority Access to Ecobank’s VC partners for funding exploration.


Ade Ayeyemi, Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Group, reiterated Ecobank’s dedication to support innovation across the continent: “The global impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the dire necessity to digitize and transform banking operations. As a banking group, we are convinced now more than ever that innovation and technology are the future of banking and therefore reaffirm our continuous commitment to identify and support Africa’s brightest developers to promote their solutions and help improve our services through the Ecobank Fintech Challenge.”

The Challenge resulted in Ecobank successfully launching the Ecobank Investor App, originally developed by Finance Mobile, a startup from the 2017 Ecobank Fintech Fellows cohort. Following the successful rollout of the app in 9 Ecobank markets and currently launching in additional countries, Ecobank is working on finalizing other such partnerships with Fellows from the 2020 Fintech Challenge.

Tomisin Fashina, Operations and Technology Executive, Ecobank Group: “We are firm believers that Africa’s talent pool is enormous and requires specialized and targeted mentorships to fully crystallize and ready fintech startups for business engagements. Through the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, we are creating a learning experience through mentorship sessions with in-house, high-level technical teams and with our global partners to help shape and reshape the strategy and focus of African Fintechs.”

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge was designed in partnership with the advisory firm Konfidants and is supported by several partners across Africa and globally including ACCION, Catalyst Fund, Nedbank VC and Cellulant. Applications will close on 20 September 2021.

Applications have opened for entries from all startups and developers in any of Africa’s 54 countries and global Africa-centered fintechs. More information on the competition, benefits, and how to apply is available here.

www.ecobank.com

Access Bank partners with Exuus to financially empower collective saving schemes through SAVE

Access Bank (Rwanda) Plc in partnership with EXUUS LTD have introduced “SAVE 2.0” a digital solution that aims at encouraging people to save collectively as a group or even friends.

SAVE is a digital wallet for collective saving schemes that can be downloaded from Google play or Apple store as well as be accessed by dialing *777#. The users will be able to save collectively and get interest of 6% per year on their funds deposited into Access Bank Rwanda. Beyond savings, SAVE enables the users to lend each other at affordable rates and conveniently manage their loan repayments.

“Access Bank Rwanda is committed to delivering steady economic growth by
leveraging digital solutions to drive financial inclusion and improve access to finance through innovative offerings.” said Oluseun Onasoga, the Executive director of Business Development. He added that the partnership with EXUUS aims to foster the development of digital solutions that will cater to the financial needs of the underserved and unserved in the Rwandan Community.

“Looking back in 2016 when the first countrywide map for informal saving groups was published by BNR & Access to Finance Rwanda, little was known about their reach and impact.

It is gratifying that not only the same groups that were almost financially excluded are now linked with Telcos (MTN Mobile Money & Airtel Money) but even better linked with a world-class commercial bank like Access Bank.
We are forward-looking, as millions of Rwandans access a wide variety of formal financial services that were previously inaccessible and become more financially resilient as a result of this partnership” said Shema Steve, the CEO of EXUUS.

Saving within the SAVE app will enable the users to sustain themselves and their families. The minimum contribution of savings and social fund is Rwf 500.

rwanda.accessbankplc.com

BK introduces high-tech ATMs to boost customers’ experience

Bank of Kigali has started rolling-out new Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) whose features will ensure quick, enhanced security and quality service delivery.

Manufactured by renowned ATM producer and vendor, Diebold Nixdorf, the new ATMs are the first of their kind “DN Series” to be deployed in Africa.

Among the features that the new ATMs have include fingerprint option which is expected to reduce theft that might occur when a client’s card is in the hands of someone who knows their pin code and may take advantage to withdraw cash without the owner’s consent.

Another component is a tap and go option that will enable BK clients to tap on the machine which will dispense cash, with no need of inserting the card into the card reader.

The lender says that it will soon activate the Near Field Communication (NFC) on the new ATMs to help one access the tap and go feature. According to BK, this will among others help new ATM users to avoid cases where their cards would be seized by ATMs or break down because of fewer skills on how to insert their cards in the teller machine.

Additionally, the new devices allow bulk note deposits.

“The first step we are taking is to distribute these machines in as many places as possible, then incorporate these features in the near future. Not all machines will possess all these features,” said Caleb S. Gakunju, Head of Payments at BK.

According to Gakunju, the backbone of introducing these machines lies in the bank’s commitment to good service delivery.

“We are investing more in technology to serve our customers better, despite the Covid-19 challenges that everyone is going through. We seek to ensure quick and quality service delivery,” he underlined.

“These machines are quick to process transactions, thanks to the advanced processors they have,” he added.

So far, BK has acquired 15 of these ATMs and the lender said that it has also ordered additional 30 ATMs of the kind.

Sites where the new machines have already been deployed include at UTC, Kigali Convention Centre, Kigali Marriott Hotel, Intare Conference Arena, Kabeza Market, Rusizi town, Rubavu main branch and the branches of ULK and Giporoso.

In the near future, the new teller machines will also be set up at Ruli branch, Kigali Heights, Kibagabaga, and at BK Head Office.

The development adds to Bank of Kigali’s initiatives that intends to promote cashless economy.

bk.rw

BPR revamps mobile banking app and add business functions

Banque Populaire du Rwanda Plc has made adjustments to its mobile banking application for improved user experience among business banking customers ensuring convenience and experience.

Previously, the application was limited to personal banking customers. The adjustments introduced features for business banking to cater for the needs of the business banking segment (SME customers).

The development will allow business-banking customers (SME customers) to do a host of banking services on the App including enabling access to multiple individuals on their accounts, and assign their roles based on the business structure or needs.

The roles assigned include inputters, approvers, viewers, super users and the amount limits among others.

This, the bank says, is part of ongoing efforts to put digital at the front of service roll out to ensure customers are offered greater convenience and experience.

This saw them address concerns to respond to their business clients as previously the app was limited to personal banking services.

To access the application, business banking customers are required to fill in the registration forms (available at the branch), then proceed to download the application (BPR Mobile App) available on App Store (for iOS users) and Play Store (for Android users).

On the platform, business clients can access a wide range of banking services including managing their accounts (checking account balances), downloading their bank statements, making transfers in BPR accounts and to other commercial banks in all currencies.

Users are also able to push and pull money to MTN and Airtel wallets, pay Rwanda Revenue Taxes, pay bills and manage beneficiaries among other tasks.

Electronic transactions have grown at the bank with over 80 per cent of the number of customer transactions being done over electronic banking channels.

BPR Plc which is the largest in network outreach, has been constantly introducing new digital services as well as adjusting existing ones to improve user convenience.

This includes mobile and internet banking platforms, which allows people to transact and do a host of banking services on their mobile phone, computer or other electronic gadgets as well as enabling new clients (non BPR clients) to open bank accounts and start transacting instantly, among other things.

www.bpr.rw