The current COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need to embrace innovation NOW in order to create durable systems that can withstand future pandemics . The only certainty is the world post covid19 would be different from what we left behind.
In the Fintech world where Pezesha operates, COVID-19 crisis has impacted SMEs ability to access capital. Borrower’s ability to pay has been severely impacted by lockdowns, curfew and proximity-based restrictions notwithstanding the measures Pezesha is taking to support the underserved SMEs during this time. To alleviate these impact on the most vulnerable businesses and communities, in addition to strengthening the overall economy, data accessibility and mobility has to be prioritized.
The current pandemic has accelerated the need for digital channels. Instead of a customer going to a local bank branch they can instead access financial services from online or mobile banking. Instead of waiting for a collections or customer service agent to call to remind customers of their loan repayment due date, they can get an automated AI driven bot notifying them on their due date 2 days in advance.
In Kenya, some news channels announced the temporarily closure of bank branches in an effort to curtail the spread of Covid19. Some other news channels have asked how fiscal stimulus programs will reach the most vulnerable. To answer these questions brings into focus digital mobility, digital accessibility, which would be powered by an open banking infrastructure.
The premise of open banking involves standardizing data and systems, ensuring their mobility and interoperability and making them available to third parties. This makes it possible for financial institutions to expand their addressable market, achieve product diversity, personalization, real time KYC and commercialize core systems.
Below is a summary of what Hilda Morara, the founder and CEO at PataScore believe will drive a successful open banking and API economy.
1. The future is choice, affordability and convenience
Her 18 year old cousin, still has to go to the bank to fill in forms in order to open a bank account. She however has delayed this process because of the current COVID situation and the need for social distancing. With open banking capabilities, and from the comfort of her home, she would be able to open a bank account, deposit money and start transacting immediately. 75% of Kenya’s population are youths who are looking for choice, affordability and convenience at their doorstep.
Providing mobile solutions and digital on-boarding for new account holders needs to be the norm as Cash and ATMs have become a casualty of covid-19 and we are now seeing an upwards trend towards digital currency through mobile money driven by M-pesa who have gone a step further to waive transaction fees in wake of coronavirus.
2. Financial literacy to optimise the value of open banking and API economy
This entails educating the customers on transparency of pricing, availability of services terms and conditions. Financial literacy in the end will also drive financial health and prosperity for customers. During this period, financial education value add is needed more than ever to reduce debt stress and debt traps and promote financial wellbeing for life.
Pezesha recently launched FREE open financial education chatbot APIs, which financial institutions can leverage to build their own personalized inductive content and reach their existing customers to educate and retain them with the hope that their personal financial health and financial position will turn out much stronger post COVID-19 and customers will now make better informed financial decisions.
3. Data aggregation and ownership will be key
DATA is the new currency for consumers and financial institutions. On one hand, customers need to own and have control of their data and ability to give consent rights on who, why, what, when and how their data should be accessed at any given point during a credit decision at the same time understand the value of their data. On the other hand, financial institutions have access to complete data sets (instead of scraping off from SMSes) to ensure accurate understanding of holistic customers behaviour and build superior credit scoring models.
For example Patascore is playing a pivotal role by providing enabling assets and an API infrastructure that unifies all data analytics and help drive interoperability across the board.
- Patascore as an enabling assets: provides digital identity, consent management, financial literacy layer, access management and data analytics
- Patascore as an API infrastructure: provides complete and centralised mobile money APIs, 3rd parties data APIs, extractions APIs and ability to integrate with banks and other apps.
Around the world, organisations are entering into agreements to share financial data through channels including APIs, for instance in the case of Visa acquisition of Plaid. As the world continues to evolve and payments become increasingly digital and mobile, consumer yearns for the flexibility, convenience, and simplicity that they have come to see as usual, for their financial services.
As Fintechs in Kenya continue to explore ways to ensure they survive the current pandemic and unforeseeable regulatory directives, it’s imperative that innovation will be inexorable. It is apparent that without the standard data APIs to better understand customer behaviour and their holistic credit scores, will continue to hinder the growth and long term win of Fintechs during and post COVID-19 period and by extension financial inclusion to ensure no one is left behind.
4. Collaboration, Agility and Regulation
In the end, for the API economy to succeed, there is an urgent need for consolidation and collaboration from banks and Fintechs to bring to reality, what we envisioned as the future innovation in financial services. The future is NOW as the world is already moving in the direction of open banking.
Now, is the time for financial institutions and governments to show their agility and quickly implement digital solutions to meet people’s needs and allow for distribution of wealth to vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19. The firms who have shown willingness to collaborate already have a leg up on their competitors when it comes to competitive pricing, alternative wider data sources and deeper customer understanding.
To catapult sanity in open banking solutions, regulation will be key to help streamline data sharing approaches by providing guidance and policies on how data can be accessed, retrieved, ingested and shared in a standard format while ensuring consumer protection at all times as open banking comes with risks of cyber security, information security, data protection, data privacy and system risks among others.
As a result of the rapid growth in mobile penetration and mobile money economy driving digital transformation in Africa, then open banking opportunities and case studies is just a matter of time.
DHL Express acquires a stake in Link Commerce, a commitment to growing African e-commerce
Hennie Heymans, CEO of DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa (Source: Deutsche Post DHL)
DHL acquires a stake in their strategic partner company, Link Commerce, in support of growing e-commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa and other global emerging e-commerce markets; Africa’s online retail market predicted to reach an 11-digit dollar value in 2020.
DHL Express today announced its minority stake acquisition in Link Commerce, the UK-based e-commerce firm that helped the logistics company develop its hugely successful DHL Africa eShop platform.
Hennie Heymans, CEO of DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa, says that the acquisition demonstrates the company’s commitment to growing e-commerce on the continent. “Acquiring a stake in Link Commerce – the company behind the MallforAfrica.com platform – shows our tremendous support of e-commerce in Africa. It also positions us to realize our ambitions of growing the eShop offering globally, and work on the scalability of the platform when the opportunity arises.”
”DHL’s investment in Link Commerce is a perfect fit. With the DHL investment we are now able to grow faster by leveraging the amazing shipping network DHL has built globally. This will help us expand our white-label turnkey B2B eCommerce platform and provide online shoppers with the ability to shop more and get more at great shipping rates fast.” said Chris Folayan Founder and CEO of Link Commerce and Mall for Africa.
Just over one year on from its initial launch, the DHL Africa eShop continues to see massive growth in sub-Saharan Africa. Heymans notes that the DHL Africa eShop has consistently outperformed expectations since its launch. “The platform was developed in partnership with Link Commerce and initially launched in 11 African countries in April 2019. It was an immediate success, gaining around 5,000 subscribers within the first six weeks. Today, DHL Africa eShop is live in 34 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa with tens of thousands of users across the continent.”
The DHL Africa eShop offers African consumers unprecedented access to international retailers via an easy-to-use platform, with great convenience, speed and reliability. “DHL Africa eShop enables African customers to shop directly from over 200 US- and UK-based online retailers, with purchases delivered directly to their door, by DHL Express.”
Heymans adds, “Online buying behaviours and product mixes have evolved quite significantly since the onset of COVID-19. Some of the most popular items on the platform now include productivity and communications devices to support remote working, home and kitchen appliances, entertainment gadgets and health related products, in addition to the historic orders of fashion and beauty products. Consumer interests have shifted towards goods that are harder to source locally. With brick-and-mortar retailers in many regions operating at reduced capacity, consumers have turned to online shopping to acquire the goods they need. It’s been great to see eShop providing vital online shopping access during this time, with impressive growth coming from countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda and Kenya during the various stages of lockdowns, and with South Africa back on board to access e-commerce, we are thrilled for our users to be able to use service offering once more.
Just over one year on from its initial launch, the DHL Africa eShop continues to see massive growth in sub-Saharan Africa
Assurance for delivery has become a top priority for consumers,” says Heymans. “ Basket sizes have also increased, as shoppers seek to get all of what they need immediately, rather than to space out their orders. Online shopping supports the ultimate level of social distancing – connecting consumers to everything they need at a click of a button.
Heymans explains that while the e-commerce market in Sub-Saharan Africa has been largely overlooked by international retailers in the past, it currently offers some of the biggest opportunities for rapid growth in the world.
E-commerce is proving to be one of the most important and fastest-growing market sectors in Africa. A report published by Rapid B2C forecasts that Africa’s online retail market will reach an 11-digit dollar value in 2020, while another report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that this value could potentially reach $75 billion by 2025.
“These growth predictions, coupled with the incredible demand and quick uptake of the DHL Africa eShop offering, confirm that this acquisition is the right move to ensure DHL Express is geared for continued growth,” adds Heymans.
As part of the acquisition, Heymans has been made a board member of London-based Link Commerce Ltd. “We have no doubt that deepening our partnership with Link Commerce in this way will take both companies, as well as e-commerce on the continent and new markets across the globe, to new heights. I am honoured to take on this new role as part of DHL’s growth strategy.”
“ At Link Commerce our strategy is to help businesses grow and provide shoppers globally with access to US and UK online retailers like never before. DHL’s investment in the company gives us that edge we need to expand rapidly globally and access to products like never before,” said Chris Folayan, Founder and CEO of Link Commerce Ltd.
With operations across 51 markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, servicing customers, efficient delivery is an important factor for DHL Express. “Our strategic investments in innovative technology and connectivity across the region, are all aimed at promoting global trade and ensuring that businesses and individuals across the continent can leverage global opportunities,” Heymans concludes.
Source: Deutsche Post DHL
Aradei Capital welcomes South African shareholder PIC in its Shareholding
PIC invests USD 50 million in Aradei Capital
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), on behalf of its client, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) of South Africa, has acquired a 13% stake in Aradei Capital for USD 50 million.
Aradei Capital is a real estate platform headquartered in Morocco that specializes in commercial real estate assets. It has a presence in 15 cities across Morocco. Through this investment, the PIC joins other reputable investors in Aradei Capital that include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Label’Vie (LBV), a leading food retailer and franchisee of the Carrefour brand in Morocco, SANAM Holding and Best Financière which has interests in large and medium retail properties in Morocco.
Aradei Capital aims to be a leading platform in commercial real estate in Morocco since the country recently enacted legislation that enables real estate investment trust (REIT).
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, the completion of this transaction is a testament to the strong fundamentals and growth prospect still forecasted in this segment.
“We are proud to welcome the GEPF to the shareholding and look forward to a long-term partnership” said Mr. Nawfal Bendefa, CEO of Aradei Capital. “This capital investment is key to funding our identified pipeline and we anticipate strong growth emerging from this global COVID-19 crisis. We expect such growth will be driven by a migration to commercial real estate with higher standards” he added.
This transaction is a mixed capital increase and a partial block-sale of shares held by the EBRD. Mrs. Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, EBRD Director for Morocco, commented: “Our investment in Aradei Capital demonstrates our strategy in promoting innovative financings and capital market development in Morocco. The EBRD supported the company’s governance and growth, which have enabled it to attract a new foreign investment with the entry of PIC as a large international institutional investor. We look forward to remaining an active shareholder and further contributing to the development of commercial real estate in the country.”
Mr. Vuyani Hako, the PIC’s acting Chief Executive Officer believes the investment in Aradei Capital is in line with its Africa Property strategy. “We believe that partnerships are essential for us to deliver on the Africa strategy. Aradei Capital has the necessary expertise in Morocco that will enable us to deliver on our partnership approach to investing in African property markets”.
“We are, particularly excited about future growth prospects informed by Aradei Capital’s clear and solid strategy to diversify into new asset categories and other yield generating real estate asset classes. We believe that our client, the GEPF, stands to benefit from this investment in the long run,” he added.
Prepare For Resurgent Property Markets In Africa
Derrick Roper, Managing Director of Novare Real Estate
Despite current circumstances – dominated by the human and economic cost of Covid-19 – the African real estate investment cycle will return to its long-term trajectory of accelerated development, driven by economic fundamentals and demographics.
Derrick Roper, Managing Director of private equity specialist, Novare Real Estate, says that, in time, African property markets will continue to reward resilient investors with superior returns. In the short-term, the impact of Covid-19 will be felt particularly in terms of movement restrictions that result in customers preferring to order takeaways while bulk purchasing essential products.
On the plus side, Roper says African real estate has experienced less of an impact due to the coronavirus because there are fewer cases and the continent relies less on tourism and international visitors compared with the US, Europe and Asia.
“The longer-term prospects for African property, driven by market fundamentals, remain promising. The opportunity for investors is that the uncertainty as a result of Covid-19 is likely to bring to the market quality assets at very competitive prices. Novare’s existing portfolio of properties across three economies is well positioned for the up-turn.”
Novare Real Estate has been developing commercial property in sub-Saharan Africa for over a decade, financing and building projects that meet the growing demand for a modern shopping and office experience.
Roper says that African markets still offer significant investment and development opportunity given the short supply of A-grade commercial real estate. With supportive demographics and some of the fastest growing economies in the world, these markets are inherently sustainable and capable of producing risk-appropriate long-term investment returns for investors.
Supporting his positive outlook, Roper notes the performance momentum that was building up across the group’s portfolio of properties in Zambia, Mozambique and Nigeria prior to the onset of Covid-19.
“Before government rules designed to contain the coronavirus in various African cities by curtailing the movement of people, Novare’s malls and offices had been enjoying brisk trade and visitor numbers that were well up on the previous year. Our developments are relatively new and are establishing as preferred retail hubs with ever-increasing occupancy rates of between 80% and 95%.”
For example, Novare Lekki mall in Nigeria’s most populous city, Lagos, attracted 7.3 million visitors during 2019, a 40% increase in footfall compared to 2018.
Novare Apo in the capital city of Abuja recorded 1.7 million visitors in 2019, in line with the footfall achieved in the previous year. Novare Gateway, also in Abuja increased its foot count by 33% in 2019 to 3.3 million people.
The new Novare Central development – comprising a single-level retail shopping centre with A-grade offices on the first, second and third floors – in the vibrant Wuse area of Abuja experienced visitor numbers in the fourth quarter of 2019 that were over 20% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2018.
At Novare Great North in Lusaka, Zambia total footfall for 2019 was 3.36 million compared to 2.24 million customers in 2018, a 50% increase year-on-year.Novare Pinnacle mall, also in Lusaka, opened in March 2019 with a very satisfactory 4.4 million foot count over the nine-month period to December.
In Mozambique, more than two million customers visited Novare Matola during 2019, an increase of 82% on the footfall achieved in 2018.The increase in traffic to Novare Matola improved tenant trade which, in turn, resulted in the increased recovery of rental arears and decreasing rental concessions.
Financial concessions have also played a role in Novare assisting tenants through lockdowns and other restrictive measures in response to the pandemic.
Says Roper: “We’ve had to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances, renegotiating and reducing gearing levels across the portfolio. Also working closely with successful retail tenants to support them in all aspects to ensure they trade and offer essential products and services to customers.”
In oil-producing countries like Nigeria, the collapse in the oil price has compounded economic problems caused by Covid-19.
“With the exception of gold, we expect commodity prices to remain subdued this year, contributing to poor economic growth prospects. Looking further ahead, Novare anticipates that the recovering global economy will support commodity prices and expansion in Africa. This, combined with supportive demographics, will help return Sub-Saharan African property to its growth trajectory,” says Roper.
Novare Real Estate’s developments are through its Mauritius-listed property funds – Novare Africa Property Fund I and II. Fund I was closed in June 2010 after raising $81 million, while Fund II raised $351 million and had its final close on 30 June 2016.
The group’s aim is to deliver superior long-term investment returns for clients who are mainly institutional investors, including African pension funds. To optimise the success of its projects, Novare adopts a hands-on approach, with an on-the-ground presence in the countries in which it undertakes developments.
“Our team boasts unrivalled expertise in investment management, property development and facilities management. Novare takes pride in the contribution our projects make towards infrastructure development, economic growth and sustainable employment in the communities where we operate. The intention is to expand our geographical reach to include opportunities in Uganda, Ghana and Kenya,” says Roper.