Why Zuckerberg, Gates And Omidyar Are Investing in Fintech for the Poor

Monday, October 31, 2016

According to a report published in early September, Facebook is currently considering acquiring mobile money giant M-Pesa that launched in Kenya in 2007. While the news is not yet confirmed, it could be a sound deal for Facebook in terms of their presence in the sphere of online-remittances (what Facebook Messenger and other messengers are trying to develop right now) and projects like Internet.org to provide people from unbanked and emerging markets with access to digital services, which Zuckerberg has promoted a lot in the past.

This is on the heels of Zuckerberg’s recent visit to Nigeria and Kenya. The future will be built in Africa, Zuckerberg said before visiting Kenya, the “world leader” in mobile money on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, a surprise trip that has propelled Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit. The mobile payment system is now a part of the culture of the region. Also Kenya has 5.3 million Facebook users, many of whom access the social network via mobile. It echoes similar compliments made by U.S. President Barack Obama, who praised Kenya’s tech entrepreneurs during a trip last July: “This continent needs to be a future hub of global growth, not just African growth”.

Africa’s experience going to Asia now

This optimism for the future of emerging markets isn’t confined to Africa, though. BKash, launched in 2011 as a subsidiary of BRAC Bank, has about 18 million accounts, second in the world only to M-Pesa in Kenya. Even so, the value of mobile money transactions in Bangladesh was 5.6% of GDP, far lower than Kenya’s 55%.

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)

fintech, impact investing