Orange selects Ericsson to ramp-up its mobile money service and accelerate financial inclusion in Africa

Ericsson’s Mobile Financial Services solution – is a leading financial services platform built on the latest security technologies and open architecture framework principles

Orange Money has grown rapidly since it was launched in 2008. The service is now available to more than 60 million subscribers in seventeen countries across Africa and the Middle East, where it facilitated more than EUR 62 billion in transactions in 2020 alone.

The offering provides financial services through a flexible and simple mobile phone interface, without the need for a bank account. Orange Money customers can securely store, transfer and withdraw money and pay merchants and utility providers, among other essential financial services.

Orange Middle East and Africa will deploy Ericsson’s Mobile Financial Services solutions in phases across fourteen of the countries in its Orange Money footprint, starting with Senegal.

Ericsson’s solution will provide a more agile and compliant IT architecture to enhance performance in managing the flow of transactions.

By strengthening Orange’s core mobile money platform, Ericsson will help promote financial inclusion and economic development across these countries.

More than 300 million people worldwide currently use Ericsson’s Wallet Platform solutions, delivered by communications service providers.

Alioune Ndiaye, Chairman and CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa says: “Stable, secure, reliable and compliant mobile financial services are fundamental to building the foundations of economic growth for many people in Africa. As we continue to work to support our customers and enhance the services offered to them, we are very pleased to work with Ericsson as their financial services platform is built upon the latest security technologies and open architecture framework principles which can further expand our ecosystem and achieve our vision of financial inclusion in Africa.”

Fadi Pharaon, President Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “This is a new milestone in our long-standing partnership with Orange Middle East and Africa. With Ericsson’s industry leading and state-of-the-art Mobile Financial Services Platform, this partnership enables Orange Middle East and Africa to achieve its vision to accelerate financial inclusion in Africa. This anchors Ericsson’s technology leadership position in offering the most advanced and innovative Mobile Financial Services and further contributing to the economic development of Africa.”

www.ericsson.com

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

MTN Rwanda considers setting up financial tech firm

The development is an attempt by the telecom operator to increase relevance to financial technology which is increasingly characterizing the financial industry in aspects such as inclusion.

MTN Rwanda CEO Mitwa Ng’ambi said that with financial technology fast becoming influential in digital finance, they have been considering setting up an independent subsidiary running financial technology operations.

This would see Mobile Money move from a department within the telecom to a stand-alone company.

“Mobile Money was initially set up as a department within MTN Rwanda. Where we stand today, we see the future of digital finance, Fin-tech so much bigger than what we are today,” she said.

She said that they had already commenced engagement with the regulator, Central Bank, to establish the requirements and characteristics of the new firm.

She, however, said that the timelines for the establishment and constitution of the new firm are yet to be determined.

The new firm, she said, is expected to be agile to trends in fin-tech hence the autonomous structure.

This comes at a time when Fin-tech is expected to be a key driver in driving financial inclusion, fostering savings, access to short-term credit among others.

With increased mobile penetration and usage, the avenue could bridge a gap in access to financial services which financial sector operators such as banks have been unable to bridge.

In 2020, MTN Rwanda saw a significant uptake of their Mobile Money and data services with initial estimates pointing to a 20 per cent (year on year)growth in revenue.

Though audited financials are not out yet, Mark Nkurunziza, the operator’s Chief Financial Officer, said that they have noted a shift in revenue composition with data and Mobile Money increasingly raking in significant portions of revenue.

Chantal Kagame, the firm’s Chief Business and Corporate Affairs Officer, noted that during the course of 2020, the active mobile money user base had grown from 2.8 million to 3.2 million while MoMo Pay users had increased from about 200,000 to about 1.4 million.

This, she noted was indicative of progress in uptake of cashless payments within the economy.

“We currently have more than 2.4 million customers using MoKash both by saving and taking loans. These are mainly by low-income earners where the service has helped them to save, take loans and develop their lives in general,” she added.

However, with the increased uptake and usage mobile money, there has been an increase of fraud which the firm said is constantly working to curb including

MTN is also expected to list on the Rwanda Stock Exchange by way of introduction allowing Rwandans to invest and partake in its returns.

The development will see the 20 per cent stake held by Crystal Telecom Limited held directly by the public.

 While 100 per cent shares of MTN Rwanda will be listed on the stock exchange, the 20 per cent stake held by Crystal Telecom will be available for trading by the public. MTN Group will hold the 80 per cent shares.

The Board of Crystal Telecom has recommended that the shareholders of CTL become direct shareholders in MTN Rwanda when the listing happens through a transaction where CTL shall repurchase all its shares from its shareholders in exchange for MTN Rwanda shares as consideration (share swap).

The board has proposed that when MTN Rwanda lists, the share swap will be on a 1:1 ratio basis, with each shareholder receiving 1 MTN Rwanda share for every share repurchased by the CTL.

The share swap and the approval, therefore, shall be conditional upon the successful listing of MTN Rwanda on the RSE, an announcement by the Board mentioned.

CTL is also expected to wrap up operations and close the shop thereafter.

www.mtn.co.rw