The Current State of Play in African Banking
African consumers are swiftly embracing and adopting digital solutions, leading to a transformative shift in the way financial services are accessed and utilised on the continent. Africa had around 570 million internet users in 2022, a number that more than doubled compared to 2015.
With the widespread availability of internet and affordable mobile technology, African consumers are leveraging digital platforms to overcome traditional hurdles and limitations associated with legacy physical banking infrastructures.
This trend is particularly prominent in urban areas, where access to traditional banking services in the past has been limited.
Mobile money platforms, such as M-Pesa in Kenya and EcoCash in Zimbabwe among other equally mature services in the region, have gained immense popularity, allowing users to make payments, transfer funds, and access financial services through their mobile devices.
Now is the time for traditional and new financial services providers in Africa to enhance their capabilities and meet the expectations of a rapidly growing and highly digitalised market.
In this guide we will dive into:
Growth Opportunities for Financial Service Providers in Africa
Rise in digital adoption
Although rates of digital adoption vary across countries, certain markets have seen huge growth over the last number of years. For example, in Rwanda, where there has been heavy investment in digital infrastructure; 90 percent of the country has access to broadband internet, and 75 percent of the population has cell phones.
The rapid rise in digital adoption presents a significant opportunity for financial service providers in Africa to revolutionise their offerings and tap into previously untapped markets.
By leveraging the power of technology, these providers can offer a wide array of innovative financial products and services, tailored to the specific needs and preferences of African consumers.
Additionally, digital capabilities allow for greater efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and scalability.
Large unbanked population
The African continent is home to a large population of unbanked individuals, with approximately 350 million adults lacking access to financial services.
These unbanked populations across Africa represent a significant opportunity for financial services providers to bridge the gap and extend their reach to previously underserved markets.
Digital banking solutions can provide a convenient and affordable way for individuals to manage, save and grow their money.
By tailoring their digital offerings to the specific needs and realities of the unbanked, financial services providers can not only expand their customer base but also drive sustainable growth and make a positive impact on the socioeconomic landscape of Africa.
Open Banking is a transformative force in many countries, driving financial inclusion and giving consumers easier access to financial tools, services and products.
In Africa, regulator- or industry-led Open Banking developments are spreading across the continent with banks and fintech firms offering Open Banking, aggregation and/or Open Finance services in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Tanzania to name a few.
The growth in the Open Banking space in Africa provides opportunities for new and traditional banks to upgrade their service offering and provide inclusive and customer-centric solutions to those who need them.
Neobanks and challenger banks in Africa are well-positioned to meet the digital challenges of consumers in Africa. Many of the top challenger banks in the market have raised significant capital as part of their strategies to bring revolutionised and digital-only solutions to African markets.
These neobanks are playing a crucial role in transforming the financial landscape of the continent and empowering individuals and businesses with convenient and affordable banking services.
Challenges Faced by Financial Services Providers in Africa
Low levels of financial literacy
Limited knowledge and understanding of financial concepts, products, and services among the population hinder the effective uptake and utilisation of financial services.
For most countries on the continent, less than half of the population of adults are considered financially literate, with the exception of Botswana (51%). 40% of adults in Tanzania, 27% of adults in Egypt and 26% of Nigerian adults are considered to be financially literate.
This lack of financial literacy leads to a reluctance to engage with formal financial institutions, resulting in low levels of financial inclusion.
To address this challenge, financial services providers must invest in comprehensive financial education initiatives that empower individuals with the knowledge and skills to make sound financial decisions.
Low digital banking adoption
Despite the growing availability of digital financial services, a significant portion of the population across Africa still prefers traditional banking methods or has limited access to the necessary technology and infrastructure. This low adoption also hampers the potential for financial inclusion, as digital banking offers numerous additional benefits such as convenience, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness.
To address this challenge, providers must invest in improving digital infrastructure, expanding mobile network coverage, and promoting digital literacy. Offering user-friendly experiences, secure platforms, and educating the population on the advantages and safety measures of digital banking can help increase adoption rates.
By overcoming the barriers to digital banking adoption, financial services providers in Africa can unlock the full potential of technology to improve financial access and empower individuals and businesses across the continent.
The Role of PFM in Driving Digital Banking Adoption in Africa
Personal Financial Management (PFM) solutions provide users with powerful tools to manage their finances effectively. They enable users to track their expenses, create budgets, analyse spending patterns, set financial goals, get clear visual representations of financial data and receive personalised financial insights and recommendations. PFM solutions can play a crucial role in driving digital adoption in Africa. Here’s how:
Encourages digital adoption
By integrating PFM features into digital banking platforms, financial services providers can offer a more engaging and personalised user experience, making digital banking more appealing and useful to customers who traditionally prefer physical banking solutions.
PFM solutions can also offer new and improved ways of representing transaction data in-app. Categorised transactions can appear in graphs, images or in a “transaction feed” (similar to a news feed found in social media). These visually appealing and easy-to-comprehend displays of data feel familiar to consumers and are easier to digest than traditional transaction statements.
In this way, PFM solutions remove barriers for users who may be less familiar with digital technologies, encouraging them to embrace digital banking.
Improves financial literacy
PFM solutions can provide educational resources, tutorials, and tips on financial management. These tools can help users understand financial concepts, such as budgeting, saving, and investing. By offering accessible and user-friendly educational content within the banking apps, individuals can improve their financial literacy gradually.
PFM solutions also enable users to set financial goals, such as saving for emergencies or planning for retirement. By tracking their progress towards these goals within digital banking platforms, individuals can stay motivated and make necessary adjustments to their financial behaviours. This helps individuals develop a long-term financial perspective and improve their financial decision-making.
Drives growth of banking industry
Across all markets including Africa, financially savvy customers are more profitable for financial institutions than those who are less financially savvy.
They tend to spend more, engage more and purchase more financial products and services.
In order to drive the long term sustainability of digital banking solutions, financial services providers in Africa need to build a customer base of financially savvy users. Such PFM solutions can provide the tools and advice such as budgeting, financial literacy advice and cash-flow notifications to improve the knowledge and confidence of African consumers.
Over time this can expand the audience of savvy and profitable customers for financial service providers to target with more complex products and services.
PFM solutions hold great potential for driving digital banking adoption in Africa. These solutions offer user-friendly experiences, financial visibility, personalised insights, and goal-oriented approaches that make digital banking more accessible and relevant to individuals with varying levels of financial literacy.
By empowering already technically savvy consumers as well as newly banked users in Africa to track expenses, set budgets, receive personalised recommendations, and gain control over their finances, PFM solutions foster trust, convenience, and financial empowerment.
Through their role in enhancing the value proposition of digital banking, PFM solutions can pave the way for increased digital adoption, financial inclusion, and economic empowerment in Africa. By bridging the gap between financial literacy and digital banking services, PFM solutions contribute to building a stronger and more inclusive financial ecosystem that benefits individuals, businesses, and the overall economy.