M-Pesa CEO: Savings, wealth management and insurance the next big opportunities for fintech in Africa

How we made it in Africa | Jeanette Clark | Mar 22, 2021

There is still ample room for growth for mobile money throughout Africa, according to Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, interim CEO of M-Pesa Africa.

During a session at the recent Africa Financial Industry Summit, Lopokoiyit revealed year-on-year growth of around 20% is possible over the next five years.

“The future of mobile money in Africa is fantastic. We are leapfrogging the card generation and going straight into digital financial services and payments.”

In 2007, Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom launched the revolutionary mobile money platform M-Pesa, which allows subscribers to transfer money between one another and deposit and withdraw cash through a network of agents. The service has since been expanded to several other African countries.

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For Lopokoiyit, future growth in the fintech space resides within the provision of financial health solutions.

“On financial inclusion when M-Pesa started, it was about 23% [in Kenya]. In places like Kenya, it is [now] 84% and above; in Tanzania, it is about 70%. But while that has been really good, financial health has remained relatively low … at about 20%. In this area of fintech and mobile money, we need to start looking at areas in which we can provide savings, wealth management and insurance to be able to cushion customers on the shocks that they may have as they live their lives,” he said.

Covid-19, said Lopokoiyit, has, once again, made the impact of external shocks on financial health abundantly clear.

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He wants fintech players to be more innovative in developing these solutions and finding ways to make financial products – even those such as government bonds – available to a wider range of customers.

Encouraging innovation and seeking strategic partnerships

M-Pesa is hoping to encourage this innovation by opening its platform even more to third party developers.

“How do we encourage more developers and fintechs to come into our ecosystem and innovate?” he asked. “Today in Kenya, there are 29,000 developers on our platform. I would like to see 100,000 developers across Africa use our APIs to develop innovate products and services.”

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