Leaders and Innovators in African Fintech

WEEKEND READING: We take a look at the market leaders in e-wallet fintech across Sub Saharan Africa, looking at what the future has in store for three of the biggest players in the region

Leaders and Innovators in African Fintech

The growing trend of e-wallets in fintech is undeniable; the sector is constantly developing as demonstrated by the growth of WeChat Pay and the recent announcement of Facebook's blockchain-based trading token Libra.

Africa is a collection of markets that may not receive a lot of coverage, yet there is a growing fintech economy based around fintech. There is an urge to innovate within the countries that are experiencing growth because of the large section of the population of Africa that don’t have access to electronic payment services, thus preventing them from blending with the electronic and digital world. We have recently covered the challenges for fintech innovators to break into the market and break down barriers.

Market Creation

For the past 10 years, traditional ways of banking have been under-adopted across African countries. A breakthrough moment was the first mobile money service in Africa - M-Pesa. This service has paved way for new technologies and innovation thus, creating a mass market that is easily accessible, affordable, and as demonstrating a sustainable model. Electronic payments have been normalised for people in rural areas, low earning people, and small-scale entrepreneurs.

Today, Africa is leading the way in mobile money services, with an 18.4% increase in mobile money accounts in Sub Saharan Africa from 2016-17 and a total value of transaction across the region of US$19.9billion. With the industry going strong and continually growing, here is a breakdown of the companies breaking new ground in African fintech.

The Industry Leaders

Africa as a market has every opportunity to expand, grow and innovate. The power of financial technology to expand access and usage of accounts is dominant in Sub Saharan Africa. According to a 2019 report from Mastercard, 48% of people in SS Africa have mobile money accounts, as compared to 33% in South Asia and only 11% in the East Asia and Pacific region.


M-Pesa is a mobile-based money transfer, financing, and microfinancing service owned by UK based company, Vodafone. It was first launched in 2007 by the mobile network service provider Safaricom, which is in turn 40% owned by Vodacom.

Since it was launched, M-Pesa has expanded to

  • Tanzania
  • India
  • Lesotho
  • Ghana
  • Mozambique
  • Egypt
  • Albania
  • South Africa
  • Afghanistan

Active users on the platform have grown from approximately 1 million users in 2007 to 33.7 million users in 2018, a growth rate of 37% in a little over a decade. M-Pesa has recorded transaction worth over US$13.7million in the second quarter of 2018 in Kenya alone.

March 2019 saw M-Pesa announce a partnership with Alibaba to allow their platform to make payments on aliexpress.com in Kenya. The move is expected to increase online shopping in the country and help micro traders who may not have access to traditional banking options. M-Pesa has its sights sent on global payments and it could well be one of the most successful fintechs in Africa.


-tranzact is a Nigerian multi-application and multi-channel, electronic transaction switching, and payment processing platform. It was launched in September 2003 by Mr. Niyi Toluwalope, who is also the current MD

E-Tranzact is presently in partnership with 70 Universities in Nigeria, along with 

  • Government
  • Banks
  • ICT companies 
  • Aviation businesses

to mention a few.

It's operations are based in Nigeria and have expanded to other African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and has plans to move into other global markets too. It's services include ATM withdrawals, POS services, remittance, and e-commerce capabilities, offered to its .

In January this year, sharholders authorised an increase in the share capital to US$25.2million. The extra funding is beingused for infrastructure imporvements and technological upgrades.

Mr. Toluwalope told The Punch, “eTranzact will acquire state-of-the-art infrastructure, ensure that the company retains the best skill set available, achieve a fast response rate, reduce downtime and expand its service offerings and market reach."

Orange Money

Orange money was first introduced in Cote d’Ivoire in 2008. From inception, the major service was facilities to provide cash-in cash-out, airtime top-ups, and Orange bills payments. 3 years after its release, Orange money had spread its services across 9 African countries with over 3 million subscribers.

By September 2018, Orange  Money serviced 17 countries across Africa with over 40 million subscribers. The most recent financial figures are from December 2017, and show transactions worth over US$29billion.

As of June 2019, Orange Pay was readying to provide traditional banking services across West Africa. Currently awaiting the go-ahead from regional regulators, the company is planning on offering the service in tandem with their e-wallet services.