How banks and fintechs can increase financial inclusion in the Congo

How banks and fintechs can increase financial inclusion in the Congo

Noel K. Tshiani is the founder of the Congo Business Network, which partnered with the Africa Fintech Summit to bring an official delegation from Kinshasa to attend the event from 3-4 November 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa.

I went to Cape Town to attend the Africa Fintech Summit from November 3rd4, 2022. I organized a delegation consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, the National Agency for Development of Entrepreneurship in Congo, Ecobank DRC, and fintech startups from Kinshasa.

Myself and people in our delegation met participants who came from different countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, UK and Ethiopia with the aim of meeting investors, finding business partners and gaining visibility on social media.

Panels organized on the first day of the event gave attendees the chance to hear directly from entrepreneurs and operators in the fintech ecosystem in Africa. The discussions centered on the latest trends, challenges and investment opportunities in various countries.

We went on a tour of the ecosystem on the second day of the conference, visiting four locations, including the Cape Town Stock Exchange, to hear what people at the local level are doing to develop startups that can scale and solve problems for consumers in the South. Africa.

I worked with event organizers to put on a panel in French to discuss how startups contribute to economic growth in Francophone Africa, a region that includes countries such as Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Brazzaville-Congo, Chad, Gabon and Congo-Kinshasa.

After participating in a series of events organized by the Africa Fintech Summit in April 2019 in Washington, followed by November 2019 in Addis Ababa, then November 2021 in Cairo, Egypt with a delegation from the Central Bank of Congo, and in November 2022 in Cape By with representatives from Ecobank DRC, it has become clear to me that banks and fintech startups can be partners in the quest to achieve financial inclusion in Kinshasa.

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Banks have the resources fintech startups need to offer services to merchants or individual customers. Some of these resources include a banking license and the technology infrastructure to issue prepaid debit cards that will allow shoppers to buy from online sellers and pay in grocery stores without carrying cash, a practice that should be strongly discouraged in Africa.

And encouraging mutually beneficial partnerships between banks and fintech startups will further contribute to financial inclusion, especially in remote areas where it is difficult for banks to open a new branch. Finding qualified employees to start the business in a new location is a challenge that banks have to overcome.

For fintech startups to succeed, it is crucial for the Central Bank of Congo to take a proactive role by putting in place a sandbox, which is a mechanism that involves ongoing discussions with entrepreneurs so that decision-makers at the regulatory authority can better understand what startups are doing and adjust regulations to reflect the nature of an evolving financial services sector.

The Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Small Business must develop a plan that focuses on how to work with fintech startups to help them find training, mentors and investors from around the world. It is surprising to know that there are 15 banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but only 10% of the population of 100 million people have bank accounts.

It is clear that a lot of work needs to be done by both the Central Bank of Congo and the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Small Business to help fintech startups develop and offer services in the provinces, where 80% of the population lives. The banking sector is the core of any developed economy, and fintech startups can play an important role for the country’s best future in 2023.

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