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Blurring of fintech, agritech holds significant potential impact for Africa

Herney via Pixabay

The transformative power of fintech innovations has had far-reaching consequences on the financial services sector, disrupting traditional banking models and bringing about previously unimaginable changes in the way customers bank and pay.

Technology is also transforming other industries, such as agriculture and health services.

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And because most industries have a financial element, the lines between the technology changes in fintech and other industries such as agritech are beginning to blur. This makes for even more exciting possibilities.

“More and more we are seeing the convergence across sectors, and for emerging markets this systemic approach is a useful way to address the complexity,” says Camilla Swart, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Rise, Barclays Africa’s innovation hub launched in 2015.

Rise is dedicated to connecting the bank, investors, entrepreneurs, industry experts and providing startups with the support and network that they require to ensure that their cutting-edge technology-solutions can be grown at scale and ultimately to provide better solutions for customers.

The fusion of technology, financial services and agriculture

The move to and impact of cross-sector, compatible technology-based solutions is already visible in one of Africa’s most important industries: agriculture. The continent’s farmers are its backbone and a critical driver of economic development and food security.

In Sub-Saharan Africa agriculture accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product (GDP) — an indicator of the size of an economy — and as much as two-thirds of employment, according to UN statistics, illustrating the size and importance of the industry across the continent.

Being able to develop and implement solutions that effectively tackle some of challenges that farmers face in terms of payments, insurance and investment therefore helps drives efficiencies by streamlining supply chain and transaction processes.

There are already a number of tools in the market that are proving to act as an enabler for the continent’s farmers: Agrista and Avenews-GT are two examples of solutions that address real challenges and which can change the nature of farming and financial services as we know it.

Agrista, for instance, is revolutionising the agricultural value chain for small and medium-sized farms through the introduction of products that improve access to finance and drive profits by streamlining operations.

Avenews-GT, a Barclays Accelerator alumni, is also revolutionising the value chain by putting the agribusiness supply chain on the blockchain.

It is a decentralised ecosystem for agricultural trade that provides a digital trading platform based on blockchain technology to enable verified farmers and co-operatives to transact directly with agri-buyers. The solution helps to lower distribution costs and increase supply chain transparency.

Barclays Africa Group has committed to helping drive tech-based innovation inside the bank and externally through co-creation and collaboration. Given that fintech is often the ultimate link and enabler between industries, there is an increasingly important role for the bank through initiatives such as Rise.

“We are hosting agritech events to find the links between financial services and agribusiness, and to identify areas where banking can better serve the farming world,” says Johan van der Watt, an agri-business expert at Absa Western Cape.

“Some pioneering ideas have emerged, including in the areas of crop insurance and drones, so we will continue to explore how collaboration can solve sector-specific challenges in new and ground-breaking ways,” he says.

There are a multitude of opportunities for co-creation and collaboration across sectors to re-imagine products and services that meet business requirements for the bank, its clients and customers as they continue to shift.

“We are excited about this intersection across fintech and agritech and the potential impact across Africa and are inviting corporate partners, industry experts, startups and investors to join us in exploring further opportunities,” concludes Swart.

Featured image: Herney via Pixabay

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