The vast opportunity in fintech
With COVID-19 boosting greater reliance on e-payments in various African countries, there is a continually increasing opportunity for fintech to address the challenges in financial inclusion objectives. With more than 67% of Egypt’s population of over 100 million, unbanked and underserved by the existing traditional banking infrastructure, there is a significant market for fintech to capture and consolidate on. A report by Merchant Machine, ranks Morocco, Vietnam, Egypt, Philippines, and Mexico as the top 5 countries with the largest population of the unbanked, with Egypt. Financial exclusion is a challenging phenomenon as it places individuals in precarious situations with limited safeguards to financial challenges and is susceptible to predatory lenders.
MNT-Halan: Banking the unbanked in Egypt
MNT-Halan, with its advantage of first entry into this market in Egypt, and proprietary and revolutionary tech infrastructure, have grown a strong brand presence and integrity in the North African country. through its scalable products, such as its consumer-facing app that connects customers, to vendors and SMEs, its merchant app, the Halan Neuron that offers lending and payment processing services, and its vast payment solutions through wallets and cards, the startup is increasingly offering value. Also, the firm provides courier, logistics, and ridehailing services to its customers. The company is said to have over 1 million monthly active users, and serves a wide customer base of above 5 million, with 3.1 million of these users, as financial clients, and 1.8 million as borrowers. The company also claims to have disbursed over $1.7 billion in loans, and exceeds as throughput, over $100 million. As MNT-Halan Founder and CEO, Mounir Nakhla, is quoted as saying,
As such, announcing on Wednesday, the company has raised about $120 million in investment by major global and regional growth investors such as Apis Growth Fund II, Development Partners International (DPI), and Lorax Capital Partners. Others who participated in the funding round are Middle East Venture Partners, Endeavor Catalyst, and DisruptTech. These funds will help the dynamic fintech startup to focus on cross-border geographical expansion to other markets, product innovation and development, and growth consolidation.
Fintech for the future
Without a doubt, the successes of fintech in Africa this year has been astounding and remarkable. This is because this growth in investments in the sector has literally reached and impacted the different regions of Africa, from north of Africa down to the southern tip. This success of MNT-Halan is likewise one of the biggest rounds in Africa this year, only dwarfed by OPay’s $400 million Series C raise, and Wave’s $200 million Series A raise, both fintech unicorns.
With M-Pesa hitting the 50 million mark in active users, there is increasing proof that Africa is a rich bed of opportunity in fintech, especially with the increasing growth of mobile penetration and internet use, and the vast ranks of the unbanked, waiting to jump on the next offering of value in the sector. With a dynamic and thriving informal market sector, which is largely uncaptured, there is a distinct potential in the fintech space in Africa. The crucial element, as Maro Elias, points out, is not the dearth of technology to drive financial inclusion in the sector, but the lack of incentives to stimulate this objective even more. This point is important because while the fintech space is growing considerably, with many fintechs repositioning as neobanks, there is still a lot of unexplored opportunity in the sector that will not only help drive financial inclusion goals in the sector, but as well, create significant value for stakeholders.