The African fintech market is estimated to be worth $3.5 billion by 2022, and that figure is still said to be modest. Since the advent of mobile money services in Kenya a decade ago, African countries have been on the forefront of using fintech innovations to promote financial inclusion and drive economic growth. Today, the Nigerian fintech sector has over 100 startups, but only two have reached unicorn status: Flutterwave ($1 billion) and Paystack ($200 million).
The West African fintech war is heating up.
There is a war for domination in West Africa’s fintech space and it’s heating up. Two companies are battling it out for dominance: Flutterwave and Paystack.
Flutterwave is owned by Groupon and provides a cloud payment platform that enables businesses to accept payments anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, Paystack is owned by PayPal and provides a mobile point-of-sale (POS) system that allows merchants to take card payments on their smartphones.
Flutterwave is the dominant player in Nigeria with over 1 million merchants using its platform while Paystack has been growing rapidly in Ghana with over 300k merchants signed up since 2017 alone.
Flutterwave and Paystack are at the center of this battle.
Flutterwave and Paystack are at the center of this battle. They both provide payment processing services, which allow African businesses to accept payments from customers using their smartphones. Both companies have raised over $100 million in funding, and they’re growing rapidly—Flutterwave’s transaction volume has tripled since February 2018 and Paystack says it has processed more than $1 billion worth of transactions since it was founded in 2013.
Flutterwave CEO Akinwumi Akinsanya told Business Insider that his company is one of three major competitors fighting for dominance in Africa’s fintech wars: “Paystack is leading with their market share but we’re growing very quickly behind them.”
The Nigerian fintech market has over 100 startups, but only two have reached unicorn status.
The Nigerian fintech market has over 100 startups, but only two have reached unicorn status. Flutterwave is the go-to payments provider for e-commerce in Africa, with clients like Amazon and Alibaba. Meanwhile, Paystack is an online payment gateway that processes over 1 million transactions per month across Nigeria and Ghana.
Paystack raised $100 million in funding from Goldman Sachs Accelerator at the end of 2018 to support its growth as it expands into other African markets. The company has created a solution for all businesses – big or small – to accept electronic payments via mobile phones or computers without worrying about fraud or chargebacks (where a customer disputes a transaction).
Why they matter.
These companies are the largest fintech companies in Africa. They help Africans to save money, send money, pay for goods and services, invest in the stock market. All these services are accessible on your mobile phone using an app.
These companies have become household names across all African countries and people of all ages use them regularly to access banking services for their day-to-day needs.
The need for financial inclusion
Thanks to the digital age, Africans have more access to financial services than ever before. A recent study found that at least 70% of African adults own a mobile phone and over half are connected to the internet. And with so many people using these devices, it’s not surprising that fintech has taken off on the continent.
However, despite this progress, there are still huge gaps in Africa’s financial system. According to GFI (Global Financial Inclusion), there were 2 billion unbanked people worldwide in 2016—and while many countries’ markets have opened up considerably since then (for example India brought its unbanked rate down from 21% in 2014 to 12% in 2018), Africa’s remains stubbornly high at 37%.
How dominant are these two companies?
In this section, you’ll learn about the two dominant players in Nigeria’s fintech space. While Flutterwave and Paystack have been around for a while, they’re both valued at over $1 billion and backed by large VC funds.
In addition to these companies’ size, there are a few other things that make them stand out from the pack:
A fight for survival is at hand.
Investors are pouring money into African fintech startups, and they’re doing it at a rate of 20% per year. That’s according to market research firm Zebra Intelligence, which estimates that the global fintech industry is worth $3.5 billion and growing fast. And with over 100 startups in Nigeria alone—and counting—the continent is a hotbed for digital innovation as well as an emerging market for financial services overall.
It’s not just Nigeria; Kenya has been named “Africa’s FinTech Hub,” while South Africa’s banking sector has also been described as one of the world’s most innovative.
But why is Nigeria a hotbed for fintech startups?
Why is Nigeria such a hotbed for fintech startups? If you’re not familiar with Nigeria, it’s one of the largest economies in Africa and home to a young population. With 200 million people and an average age of just 21 years old, that means there’s plenty of spending power—and millions of potential customers who don’t have access to traditional banking services. Add in growing GDP (up 7% year-over-year) and an expanding middle class, plus a high mobile penetration rate (about 80%), and you’ve got the makings for a robust market.
Why does the fintech sector matter in Africa?
Why does the fintech sector matter in Africa?
The answer is simple: it’s a huge market. The continent has the youngest population in the world, with 53% of its people under 25 years old; this means that as more young people come online, they will increase their usage of mobile phones and other devices to discover new products and services like those offered by fintech companies. In addition to being young, Africa is also cash-based—more than 90% of transactions on the continent are conducted using physical cash rather than electronic payments. The majority of these transactions happen offline at small businesses or street vendors who don’t have access to traditional banking services but nonetheless need a way to accept funds from customers or clients. This means that any company looking for growth opportunities would be foolish not take advantage of these factors as well as other unique traits such as regulatory uncertainty (in some markets), high inflation rates (in others), low interest rates (still others) etcetera).
How big is this market?
The opportunity is large. The Nigerian economy, for example, is the largest in Africa and Nigeria has a population of over 200 million people. It also happens to be the largest mobile phone market in Africa and has the largest number of internet users in Africa. This is why it’s not surprising that the Nigerian fintech sector is worth $10 billion!
Fintech startups in Africa are growing fast and there is a fierce competition among them.
The fintech sector in Africa is growing fast and there is a fierce competition among the startups. Many of these startups are competing for investors, talent and partners. Fintech companies like MTN Ghana, Paystack Nigeria and Zenbanx Uganda have raised millions of dollars from investors but they still have many challenges ahead: building trust with their customers, expanding beyond e-money remittance to other financial services such as lending or mortgages etc.
Fintech startups based in Africa need to hire more people who can provide expertise on payments systems integration with banks’ infrastructure; developing local solutions tailored for each country; hiring salespeople who understand how people use money every day; having a deep understanding of regulatory frameworks so that they can comply with them while providing products that are better than those offered by traditional banks
There is no doubt that flutterwave and Paystack are the two African fintech unicorns. However, with the growing demand for digital financial services in Africa, many more fintech startups will spring up and may become unicorns in the near future.