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The last couple of months or so have been rather eventful for Africa's fintech scene— particularly in Nigeria where Interswitch notably attained unicorn status in November following Visa acquiring 20% of the company for a reported $200 million.

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's much-publicised visit to Africa last month also did much to put a global spotlight on the continent’s fintech arena, and the subsequent capital raises by OPay (backed by Opera) and PalmPay (backed by Transsion) drew attention to the on-going race for platform dominance in the space.

In this instalment of the African Tech Roundup podcast, Andile Masuku and The Subtext’s Osarumen Osamuyi are joined by Malawian mobile tech entrepreneur, Wiza Jalakasi, to unpack some of the more pertinent fintech industry signals and discuss their implications for the continent’s tech and innovation ecosystem at large. (To skip the introductory niceties, head straight to [11:58].)

Wiza is a passionate USSD proponent who formerly headed up business development and international expansion at Africa’s Talking. He is currently the head of strategy and business development at Hover.
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Questions discussed in this episode include:

  1. Is the hype around Jack Dorsey’s recent Africa visit well-deserved? [12:38]
  2. Why might PalmPay’s $40 million seed round be the most significant China-related fintech startup play of late? [25:47]
  3. Are aspiring ‘banks’ like Google and Facebook well-positioned to dominate Africa’s fintech industry? [28:52]
  4. Is there credence to Jack Dorsey’s citing of Bitcoin as a key part of the future of African fintech? [37:55]
  5. How significant is the trend towards digital-first and digital-only banks? [50:46]
  6. Could the Zimbabwean mobile telco NetOne spark a continental trend by making mobile money transactions free? [1:01:57]
  7. How will Google’s new Play Store lending term restrictions for financial services apps impact microlenders on the continent? [1:07:34]

Resources referenced in this episode:

APP: Bit Sika

JOURNAL ARTICLE: The hustle economy: Informality, uncertainty and the geographies of getting by Tatiana A. Thieme

JOURNAL ARTICLE: Demystifying the motivations towards hybrid entrepreneurship among the working populace in South Africa by Obey Dzomonda and Olawale Fatoki

REPORT: Nigeria Digital Economy Diagnostic Report by the World Bank

ARTICLE: $40 million from TECNO and a Visa Partnership: PalmPay’s bold Nigeria play by Alexander O. Onukwue for TechCabal

ARTICLE: Google Makes a Bid for Banking, Where Tech Firms Go to Stumble by Stacy Cowley and Tara Siegel Bernard for the New York Times

ARTICLE: Facebook takes on Venmo with new payments tool that can be used across its family of apps by Annie Palmer for CNBC

TWEET: Jack Dorsey cites Bitcoin as key part of  the future of African fintech via Twitter

ARTICLE: FNB Easy Zero and Bank Zero – The fight over “zero” by My Broadband

ARTICLE: Transacting Using OneMoney Will Be Free Until The End Of 2019 by Farai Mudzingwa for TechZim

ARTICLE: Google bans predatory payday loan apps from the Play Store by Jon Fingas for endgadget

VIDEO: Sufficient Balance: Opportunities in African Fintech Web Call by DFS Lab and The Subtext

BONUS: Trending on Andile, Osarumen and Wiza's desktops right now

ESSAY SERIES: Sufficient Balance: Opportunities in African Fintech by DFS Lab and The Subtext

BLOG POST: The Fight for Mobile Money 2.0 by Wiza Jalakasi

EVENT: IGNITE Conference 2019 hosted by SPARK

Image credit: Namnso Ukpanah