Lessons From M-Pesa for Africa’s New VC-Rich Fintech Startups
In African fintech, the fourth quarter of 2019 brought big money to new entrants.
Chinese investors put $220 million into OPay and PalmPay — two fledgling startups with plans to scale in Nigeria and the broader continent. Several sources told me the big bucks had created anxiety for more than few payments ventures in Nigeria with similar strategies and smaller coffers. They may not need to fret just yet, however: lessons from Africa’s most successful mobile-money case study, M-Pesa, suggest that VC alone won’t buy scale in digital finance.
Startups and fintech in Africa
Over the last decade, Africa has been in the midst of a startup boom accompanied by big growth in VC and improvements in internet and mobile penetration.
Some definitive country centers for company formation, tech hubs and investment have emerged; Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya lead the continent in numbers for all those categories. Additional strong and emerging points for innovation and startups across Africa’s 54 countries and 1.2 billion people include Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Senegal.
Photo courtesy of Scott Mainwaring.