Continental bank roots for financial technology


Millions more people in Africa now have access to financial systems, thanks to cashless systems using digital technology, and more and more people are seeing the benefits of mobile banking, according to Ecobank.

Nshuti Lucy Mbabazi, assistant vice-president, push payments for the Ecobank Group, said that technology offers banks great opportunities to open up new markets, increase choice and speed delivery of services, which are key to delivering a cashless society in Africa.

The official added that “digital technology is central”.


Mbabazi was speaking at the just-ended Africa Tech summit in Kigali on Thursday.

“For instance, Rwanda is seeking to move from a cash-based economy to a digital one.

The number of digital transactions in Rwanda increased by 11 per cent in the first half of 2017 from 1.37 million the previous year to 1.53 million in the same period, and more and more merchants and dealers are becoming access points.”

She added that the volumes of transactions grew by 26 per cent in Rwanda, from 8.6 million to 119 million in 2016/17, representing an increase of a third in value from Rwf469 billion to Rwf622 billion.

“Point of sale (POS) transactions have almost doubled in volume from 270,084 to 523,473, doubling the cash value to Rwf32 billion.

“Overall, fintech in Africa will grow from around $200 million currently to $3 billion by 2020,” said Mbabazi.

“Going digital provides, not just better services and connectivity, but enables banks and businesses to unlock productivity and play a role in development.”

Driving digital

Ecobank has spearheaded the development of cashless payment systems in Africa through its mobile app and other products.

Africa is now at the forefront of fintech with 57.6 per cent of the world’s 174 million active registered mobile money accounts (100.1 million) in sub-Saharan Africa.


Fintech in Africa is predicted to grow from $200 million to $3 billion by 2020.

Ecobank’s mobile app allows customers in any of the 33 African countries in which it operates to check balances, pay bills and merchants, and many other services.

The mobile app offers banking services at a much cheaper cost than traditional banking, thus making it much more accessible to millions of users thanks to the rapid growth in mobile phone use.

Rwanda has the second-highest use of mobiles in Africa, with more than 50 per cent of the population unique subscribers. Kenya has the highest penetration rate of almost 60 per cent of the population.

The Africa Tech Summit, which concluded on Thursday, explored the latest trends in digital technology, attended by some 250 key African and international tech leaders.