A debate by a Douala-based incubator; ActivSpaces suggested way out of the situation.
T he world being a global village has brought about financial inclusion to ease transactions of all types. It is now old fashion to move with cash from one part of the country to another or from one country to another when digital solutions that fascinates financial transactions have been developed. However, Cameroon in particular and Francophone Africa in general is lagging behind as far as financial inclusion is concerned compared to Anglophone Africa. Considering that Fintech growth is necessary to move with the rest of the world, Cameroon and Francophone Africa have to wake up and smell the coffee before they are left behind. It is for this reason that scores of start-ups in the Fintech field converged on Douala under the banner of ActivSpaces to debate on the theme: “Fintech, Why Francophone Africa is Lagging Behind”. According to the moderator, Hermès Nziko, Anglophone Africa are doing well compared to Francophone Africa and there is a need to diagnose the problem and propose solutions. It resurfaced during the debate that the bank as well as insurance penetration rate in Cameroon is less than 15 per cent and is slightly above and below other Francophone African countries which makes financial transaction difficult. It filtered out that Cameroonians and some authorities don’t have confidence in local solutions but instead solicit foreign ones whereas there are local Fintech that are striving to be the best at the global level. Example is SME CreditPro that came first in a competition by the Central Bank of Kenya out of 74 Start-ups across Africa and they also represented Africa in Singapore Fintech Festival that gathered 20 Fintech from across the world under one roof. To encourage the resolve of Fintech towards providing digital solutions that fosters development, regulators have to give assurances to banks that Fintech have reliable solutions. Once the assurance is given, banks will integrate them thereby creating an enabling Fintech ecosystem. Since all Fintech need is support and protection, they recommended that regular meetings be held between them and regulators for a better mastering of Fintech in order to draw and implement regulations that will permit them grow. One of the most important way of developing Fintech will be for prominent businesses to either invest or partner with Start-ups in the Fintech domain for rapid growth. However, there is a supposed clash and misunderstanding between mobile money operators and Fintech, thus, a need to draw a line between the two since the former considers them as competitors. Fintech argue that mobile money operators are service providers while they are distributors because they facilitate access to solutions to the public but the former wants to blend the two roles. According to Fintech, defining the role of the two is important and has to be done by regulators.