The Africa fintech summit Lagos – organised by Dedalus Global was held on the 8th of November 2018. With hundreds of fintech enthusiasts from across the continent, the conference brought together fintech startups, investors, innovators disruptors, tech enthusiast, high-level attendees, from CEOs, influencers, regulators, entrepreneurs to discuss pressing topics in the fintech space and to share opinions on the future of Africa in this tech-driven age.
Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS) included a good mix of pitch sessions, panels, keynotes, and expositions.
CEO of Dedalus Global; Chairman, Africa Fintech Summit Leland Rice gave the opening speech explaining that AFTS is a global initiative with a mission to see fintech at the center of Africa’s economic growth, adding that Nigeria is one of the countries to watch on the global fintech map.
Several panel discussions were held at the event and one of them was about payment innovation and regulations. The panelist agreed that there’s an inherent tension between regulators and tech companies, CEO, Venture Garden Group Bunmi Akinyemiju who was among the panelist used SureRemit as an example according to him the blockchain startup raised seven million dollars in seven days from its ICO stressing that regulators must decide to be supportive of fintech startup in a regulative and proactive way instead of saying no.
Blockchain for Africa
Interestingly, the ‘blockchain for Africa’ panel made up of experienced speakers in the space was one of the most interactive sessions held at the event.
Let’s be clear-eyed for a minute though. No doubt, there is massive conservation ongoing around Africa’s fintech space concerning the blockchain technology. And we’re beginning to witness real blockchain project coming from Africa.
The first speaker Dr. Andrew S. Nevin, Advisory Partner for PwC Nigeria and Chef Economist for Binkabi talked about cryptocurrency and regulation highlighting that while cryptocurrency have a little bit of negative reputation, however, the rules of this new form of money are clear and transparent unlike centralized form of money which strips away wealth from the users through inflation.
Second speaker Eseoghene Mentie, QA Manager, Uport and ConsenSys gave an insightful view on what the blockchain technology does beyond cryptocurrency. She noted that the basic use case of cryptocurrency is to reward transaction processes, but the introduction of smart contract open doors to use the distributed ledger for so many use cases such as tracking, identity management and supply chain indicating that the blockchain is transparent and immutable.
John Kamara, Founder and CEO of Afrimart also among the panelist talked about the blockchain technology from an interesting angle, the trust protocol a form of blockchain that can have social impact, pointing that African startups should learn from the 2017 ICO craze and not be quick to tokenise rather they should first understand the interference difference between the customers and end users. Startups should identify the problem in the Africa ecosystem and think of a blockchain solution that can solve it. By solving the problem first then you can think of tokenising, in this case, you will be selling a real asset.
Still on the discussion on ‘blockchain for Africa’ another member of the panelist, CEO, RocRemit Akin Sawyerr, added the blockchain is totally revolutionising the financial system and allowing Africans to participate for the first time on global stage without having to go through intermediaries like banks.
To round off the session, an interesting question was raised by a participant; will blockchain eliminate banks or will banks take on this technology?
The panelist gave their views from a different perspective. Dr. Andrew noted that the banks should be afraid if they refused to take on this technology because there’s a high probability they will gradually go bankrupt.
Eseoghene however, argued that the bank won’t go away but rather there will be no centralize banking as it is as the bank will gradually become were people store their tokens, private keys, and other digital information.
John Kamara, on the other hand, said traditional institution will never go away so long there are regulations and Akin conclude by saying that a disruptive technology like the blockchain will find the unbanked and value can still be exchanged without the need of a bank.
Other hot trending discussions held at the AFTS include innovation for inclusion, the future of lending and investing in fintech. There was also an exhibition of Africa’s brightest early-stage fintech startup such as wallet.ng, Riby, Piggybank, Eversend, Binkabi, and Yellowcard.
The closing keynote was given by Lanre Osibona, Special Advisor on ICT to the President of Nigeria. Mr. Lanre in his remarks said the Nigerian government is willing to create an enabling environment for startups and ready to support innovation in the fintech ecosystem. He also said that the government is interested more in blockchain real use cases and not the ‘quick money crypto’.
Images courtesy of @Afrifintech