The third wave is the future of FinTech. Of course, like any future event, this is the most difficult to predict, being dependent on a huge number of unknown (and perhaps even unknowable) circumstances and events that will change its evolutionary path. That being said, a best bet for FinTech’s new innovative home is emerging — Africa. With favorable demographics, a shrinking reliance on natural resources, and rapidly expanding infrastructure, the continent is concocting the perfect mix for an innovative explosion. Moreover, it has the largest single driving factor seen in many of the most profound innovative waves of the past millennium: necessity. Plato’s edict that “necessity is the mother of invention” could not be more truly embodied than by the Africa of 2020 and beyond. The young, rising, unbanked, and underserved population of Africa is buzzing to unlock the growth that access to finance will provide them. In fact, you are already beginning to see early hints of this new shape of FinTech emerge with companies such as Safaricom (a telecommunications firm) and Equitel (a mobile virtual network operator) providing mobile solutions that innovate past those of the US and Asia.
Unlike elsewhere in the world, in Africa, the biggest market is an unserved market. Around 330 million adult Africans, approximately 80 per cent of the continent’s population, lack access to formal financial services. The vast majority of potential customers are as yet unclaimed, though they are getting switched on very rapidly.