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Ukheshe, a leading fintech enablement partner, is taking a collaborative approach to its expansion strategy in East Africa. Anthony Karingi, the company’s vice president for business development in the region, says they recognise the importance of establishing partnerships and leveraging local knowledge when expanding into new markets.
Karingi emphasises that the company cannot be all things to all people and focuses on its strengths while working closely with partners to leverage theirs. He adds that East Africa is set to boom soon, with the market being very developed when it comes to cashless systems and digital payments.
Mobile money is available across all core East African markets and is ahead of the curve in many markets, even in comparison to South Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly 70% of the total amount of global mobile money transactions recorded during the past year, totalling $1 trillion.
However, with this rapid growth comes increased regulatory scrutiny, particularly on fintechs. Karingi stresses the importance of having local partners and feet on the ground in these new markets as regulators are still trying to find that fine line between protecting consumers and not stifling innovation. New operators must stay on top of changing local regulations and compliance requirements.
In each East African market Ukheshe enters, it collaborates with established partners that are looking to digitise their offering and contribute towards the digital economy as part of financial inclusion.
Ukheshe acts as the enablement partner that assists fintechs, financial institutions and MNOs in driving their vision and goals and enhances their proposition using their own licences, customers, and local knowledge.
Karingi notes that this is a novel approach in the industry and is different from what many competitors are doing. The partnership approach allows Ukheshe to deploy its solutions and scale more quickly, as it would be onerous to comply with all the various local regulations in all the markets it wants to operate in.
Besides enriching their partners’ offerings through their innovative products, Ukheshe also invests in its local partners. The company invests in infrastructure, capacity building, and resources, which builds its collaborative local footprint and strengthens the partnership and both offerings to customers.
In the next five years, Karingi believes that mobile money operators and telcos will lose their first mover advantage to more agile fintechs that can deploy their technology faster and more cost-effectively. Interoperability will become a key selling differentiator. The market is growing quickly, with technology levelling the playing field, and it’s important to be aware of such dynamics to stay ahead of the competition.
Karingi concludes by saying that everyone wants a piece of the action, even giants like Apple and Samsung are now involved in mobile payments. The best and most exciting part is that there is no script, and everyone is building the plane as they fly, venturing into uncharted territory.