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17 Jun 2022

AfrAsia joins ENSafrica & AustCham Mauritius for a panel discussion on Fintech’s impact across Africa

ENSafrica, the largest law firm on the African continent, in collaboration with Australian Chamber of Commerce Mauritius (AustCham Mauritius), hosted a panel discussion for their members on Tuesday 14 June 2022 at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel around the theme “Fintech and Technology: The key to success across Africa”.  This event also brought together a panel of established industry experts including EDB, AfrAsia Bank and Hospitality Plus to discuss about the growing momentum of Fintech on the African region.


Fintech has been a major force in shaping the continent’s financial services with disruptive improvements such as money lending, payments processing, cryptocurrency, crowdfunding and more. Speaking on the panel, Professor Angela Itzikowitz, Founder and co-head of ENSafrica’s Fintech Department said that Sub-Saharan Africa, with its 650 million of mobile phone users in Africa, records the highest mobile payment technology and transactions. The popularity and spread of smartphones, coupled with technology advancements, has been one of the key drivers of the uptake of fintech services and the quantum of finance from non-traditional sources is unprecedented.


On the same wavelength, Kenya introduced M-PESA in 2007, a mobile-banking platform that revolutionised the payment system as it enables users to store and transfer money through their mobile phones. Today, over 80% of adult Kenyans have accessed to this service and commenting on this success story, Mahesh Acharya, Partner and Fintech specialist at ENSafrica in Nairobi, Kenya, highlighted the peculiarity of this achievement was that “the regulation got built around the product which is usually the other way around”.


On the Mauritian landscape, the real opportunity of Fintech lies in its comprehensive legislative framework to regulate business activities around virtual assets and security token offerings.  The introduction of the Regulatory Sandbox License (RSL) offered investors the possibility to conduct state-of-the-art business projects ranging from Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) to cryptocurrencies exchange platforms to digital wallets and crowdfunding platforms amongst others. “The determination of Mauritius in embracing innovation on the digital front demonstrates our commitment and engagement in positioning FinTech as a major pillar of growth in the future”, stated Rajiv Babooram, the Lead Professional-Financial Services from the Economic Development Board (EDB). Drawing on Mauritius’ solid reputation as an international financial centre, strategic location for cross-border investments, sound political and economic stability, ease of doing business and the strength of its governance and institution, the EDB aims at promoting the island as an international ‘digital hub’.  

With regards to the financial sector, the Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub (MAFH) is another cornerstone in getting the ecosystem ready by bringing together innovators, entrepreneurs, government agencies and corporates, as well as working with regional African FinTech Hubs to enable financial service providers and FinTech companies to collaborate and develop products in a safe, innovative and nurturing environment. The establishment of the Mauritius Central Automated Switch (MauCAS) by the Bank of Mauritius is a major step forward in the banking industry. This innovative digital payment platform provided banks with opportunities to collaborate with emerging technologies service providers. “The next step will look at how banks will engage and connect with the newcomers in the payment space not only to bring more efficiency in the system but also act as a catalyst in the digital transformation of the economy. The middle ground is here but we can only get there at a certain speed.”, explained Nicolas Hardy, Chief Technology and Operations Officer at AfrAsia Bank.

Fintech remains promising for Africa yet it comes with its unique challenges. The threat is mostly related to the shortening of product and services life cycles due to rapid technological developments and increasing competitiveness. “With the emergence of digitalisation, it is imperative for businesses to futureproof themselves by being sustainable and survive in this hugely complex environment. There is no time to wait and structure, we just have to grab and go.”, concluded Philip Taylor, Consul of Finland and Director of Hospitality Plus.