In a space of five years, Nigeria’s fintech companies have raised over $600 million in funding, attracting 25% ($122 million) of the $491.6 million raised by African tech startups in 2019 alone – second only to Kenya, which attracted $149 million. The period under review is 2014- 2019.
This information is contained in a recently published report by McKinsey titled “Harnessing Nigeria’s Fintech Potential.” The report highlighted the combination of youthful demographic, increasing smartphone penetration, and concerted efforts to driving financial inclusion as factors that interplay to produce conducive and thriving enabler or platform for the fintech firms in Nigeria.
The report outlined some of the feedback against fintech companies ranging from poor user experience, underwhelming value-added from using some of the financial products, low returns on savings, and limited access to investment opportunities.
The report also showed that Nigerian fintech companies are primarily focused on payments and consumer lending, having allotted an aggregate of 39% on payments to consumers, SMEs, and corporate FSP, and an additional 25% to consumer lending. The breakdown is depicted below.
On the driving factors behind the increasing choice of payment and consumer lending as an area of concentration by fintech companies, a part of the report read thus;
“The factors driving growth in each of these segments vary. Payment-focused solutions have surged over the past two years, spurred in part, by the central bank’s financial inclusion drive and favorable regulatory policies, including revised Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for lower-tier accounts and incentives, to accelerate development of agent networks across the country. Paga, OPay, Cellulant, and Interswitch’s QuickTeller compete with mobile banking applications and bank unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) channels to send and receive transactions and bill payments.
“Fintech activity in lending is picking up, thanks to the fact that fintechs are able to leverage payment data to determine lending risk more easily, and utilize smartphones as a distribution channel. For example, fintech startups such as Carbon and Renmoney have successfully leveraged alternative credit-scoring algorithms, to provide instant, unsecured, short-term loans to individuals. A few fintechs, such as Migo, have also stepped up to offer unsecured working-capital loans to SMEs with minimal documentation. Banking fintech solutions have been fast followers here, with leading banks launching digital lending platforms like Quick Credit by GTBank and Quickbucks by Access Bank.”
In general, access, convenience, and trust have all played key roles in the increasing use of fintech products. For example, in the last six months, 54% of consumers have reported increased usage of their fintech products
Why this matters
In line with the National Financial Inclusion goals of 2020, and owing to the fact that despite the remarkable progress recorded by traditional banking institutions, the vast majority of consumers are underserved. Hence, the issue of accessibility especially in remote areas, affordability, and user experience have been a front-burner issue.
The aforementioned issues have created an opening that fintechs have been quick to take advantage of, providing enhanced propositions across the value chain, to address major points in affordable payments, quick loans, and flexible savings and investments among others.
Fintech accounted for only 1.25% of retail banking revenues in 2019, signaling a room for development. Despite recording a growth of fintech investments in Nigeria to the tune of approximately $460 million in 2019, majority of these investments were from external investors. This was only a small fraction (1.27%) of the $36 billion invested in fintech globally.
The report opined that full optimization of fintech companies in Nigeria can stimulate economic activity, by creating a multiplier effect, and can drive progress towards development goals. Economic impact will primarily come from expanding revenue pools and attracting foreign direct investment to the country. The sector can unlock a plethora of economic benefits by driving increased fintech productivity, capital, and labour hours through digitization of financial services.