KAMPALA — While Europe, America and Asia, the main trading partners with Africa are increasingly getting cashless, over 90 per cent of the population in Africa still adores cash.
This not only renders the continent uncompetitive but has also played a great part in promoting money laundering on the continent.
According to Brookings, illicit financial flows from Africa between 1980 and 2018, were estimated at about USD 1.3 trillion ( UGX4,827 trillion), which is 50 times Uganda’s GDP. This is detrimental to the continent’s financial and economic development.
However, in a bid to play a role in facilitating a shift from cash to cashless, several players have come up. One of these is Xente Limited, a Financial Technology (FinTech) company that delivers traditional financial services in a technical manner, using technology.
Established in 2017 by Allan Rwakatungu and his co-founders, the firm connects African businesses and consumers to the digital global economy.
According to the company’s chief marketing and communications officer, Lyn Tukei, the FinTech created a platform that handles all sorts of non-cash payments ranging from mobile money to card payments such as Visa and MasterCard to pay for goods and services wherever in the world and pay utility bills.
The Xente App can also be used to get loans, book tickets, buy airtime as well as doing online sales of goods and services.
The company boasts of over 50,000 subscribers across the continent. However, the company targets to connect 100 million African people and 50,000 African businesses to the global digital economy over the next 10 years. This, she believes will enable them to help buyers and sellers upgrade to the digital financial economy.
Ms. Tukei says Xente seeks to help Africa emerge from the old economy where systems are inefficient, informal and people using cash, to seamlessly join the new digital economy of using cashless options to enable the continent compete favourably.
They company also targets to onboard 1,500 Micro and Medium Sized Enterprise (MMEs) merchants onto the Xente platform, especially Ugandan owned businesses. Special focus will be paid to women and youth lead enterprises.
Ms. Tukei adds this will be done through the provision of adequate technology infrastructure that connects consumers, businesses and sellers to get to the digital platforms. Using the App also enables users to get access to credit, savings and insurance.
The company also hopes to enhance their financial services value proposition with features like Release payment on Delivery, Instant settlement, Forex payments or buyers from foreign countries and insurance in case of damage or non-delivery. This will help address the trust challenges always faced in the digital economy.
Xente, which is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative, also intends to support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative by enabling trade between customers and merchants in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
The 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.
It seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.
Running for 40 days, the project will see the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.
The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya commended Xente for the innovation.
“We believe in the works of digital transformation and looking at the numbers you envision to reach, it is a big target but it is achievable because time has come for financial inclusion to become the internet,” Kawooya said.
He added: “We are now on the journey of building the internet of money, which is going to change everything. Digital is now more value additional; it is no longer about sharing pictures. Facebook is now opening up shops and making sure that everyone sells what they have.”
Kawooya said the 40-days-40-FinTechs is an innovative initiative, saying that it is the first time it is happening anywhere in the world.
“We are doing this with passion because we believe that when each one of you plays a role in the ecosystem, then we will be able to transform millions of lives.
“We are happy to celebrate financial inclusion because whenever we have such discussions, we are sure we are helping the world get closer to achieving full financial inclusion,” he said.