In recent decades, banking and finance in Africa have broken down old barriers to chart new grounds all over the continent. About four decades ago, in what could still be called the immediate post-independent era, banking across Africa was content to follow colonial boundaries. Banks of U.K. origin operated in former British colonies, and so did the French, the Spanish and the Portuguese.
Fast-forward to the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st century, and the banking landscape across Africa is completely changed. Now we have South African lenders foraging farther north in west, central and eastern for opportunities led by the likes of the Stanbic Group and Rand Merchant Bank. In West Africa, Nigerian banks such as UBA, First Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank have fanned out across west, central and eastern Africa as well. Amid all of these developments, Ecobank International has emerged as truly continental bank, with branches in at least 37 countries, built on the ideals of African integration and cooperation.
What’s more? Banking has collided with technology and new spin-off opportunities are emerging in financial technology that have helped redefine banking and financial services. One of the exemplary successes in this area is the Nigerian company called Interswitch Limited, which runs the Quickteller electronics payments system and producers the Verve payment cards, and has recently evolved into a lender, providing short-term credit without the usual strict collaterals demanded by traditional lenders.
With more than 60 percent of the African population still left out of the official financial system, technology-based payment systems leveraging on mobile phones and the internet offer both service and investment opportunities to bridge the gap. For prospective investors attracted by these opportunities, Afrika Insights is available to fill the knowledge gaps that will make it possible to realize the most beneficial decisions.