It is extremely difficult to focus on FinTech when SWIFT organizes its largest event for the African market in Mauritius. SWIFT chose an amazing venue and attracted around 500 participants from 40 countries.
But it’s only fair to start with the obvious and state that Mauritius is beautiful and it makes going to the conference exhibition and sessions a lot less attractive. However, I successfully survived the temptations all around.
The highlight of the conference was the Innotribe Startup Challenge. It had a huge success in its second year focusing on the African FinTech ecosystem. It attracted about 90 applications, most of the companies coming from South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. It is interesting to see the evolution of problems these companies have been addressing over the last couple of years. Initially, FinTech startups focused a lot on online payments, mobile wallets, financial education and gamification, personal financial management solutions and a couple of other. The main focus of the companies that applied for the 2016 African competition was around areas like payments, new banks, big data, lending, settlement, e-commerce and cross-selling, compliance, messaging.
9 great companies pitched on stage for 6 minutes sharp, explaining what they do and the top three won a USD 10,000 USD prize and have been invited to Sibos Geneva to showcase their offering to the 9000+ Sibos audience.
Hello Paisa from South Africa is a low cost international money transfer solution for remittances.
The Sun Exchange from South Africa as well is a peer-to-peer lending platform for investors to fund solar energy projects across the globe.
WeCashUp from Cameroon has created a cross border mobile money platform, enabling users to make secure payments via their mobile phones all across Africa.
The theme of this year’s SWIFT ARC was “Facing Global Challenges” and there was a great focus on compliance, financial inclusion and the role of disruptive new technologies.
An interesting figure released at the event is that SWIFT’s messaging traffic grows by 12.5 percent in Africa. Africa remains the fastest growing region for payments traffic, showing good economic growth in the region. Still, to quote Ike Williams from Heritage Bank, there is only so much that banks are currently doing in many countries over the African continent. They usually serve urban areas and stop at these boundaries, not being able to reach rural areas where money is needed. Even MPESA fails to address the problem of cash, which is still king, as people often cash out the money received in their wallets.
Bottom line is that countries in Africa are a very interesting playground for both banks and technology providers with a sense of creativity and many surprises are expected to emerge from this restless environment. The Innotribe Startup Challenge is there to look for novel FinTech products and services and select the best to bring them in front of the banking community and make the link between them, to better serve people who benefit of their offerings.
by Alina Enache
The business relationship between Allevo and SWIFT started in 1999 when Allevo became a SWIFT Registered Vendor and continued over the years, going deeper into certifying Allevo’s employees and applications, thus becoming SWIFTReady Services Partner (starting 2003). Allevo’s services portfolio has gained SWIFT appreciation due to the large area of business competencies covered by our business experts (SWIFT certified consultants for TARGET2, SEPA, Cash Reporting, Securities, TSU, Corporate and EUCLID), as well as by our implementation & support engineers (certified for all the products available in SWIFTAlliance suite). Moreover, qPayIntegrator v2.0 was the first SWIFTReady SEPA certified solution (in 2008 and 2009), and at the same time, the first Romanian banking solution designed for payment systems, which obtains SWIFT’s recognition for its proven compliance with the banking industry standards. qPayIntegrator has also received the letter of conformity for successfully passing the technical and functional validation criteria within SWIFT's certification programme for Workers' Remmitances in 2010, renewed for SWIFTRemit 2.0 in 2012.
In 2009, Allevo has signed a SWIFT Agency Agreement covering the promotion of SWIFT Alliance suite and other SWIFT business solutions, as well as the delivery of the related services in Romania. This already tight business relationship was further enhanced in 2013 when Allevo was selected as SWIFT Business Partner for Romania. In this new role, Allevo intermediates and promotes not only the interfaces and messaging solutions provided by SWIFT, but also the business solutions dedicated to the operational areas in the banks or corporates that are connected to SWIFT, covering the Romanian territory.
As a SWIFT Business Partner, Allevo’s team dedicated to coordinating on behalf of SWIFT the activities for Romania is planning a series of campaigns, adapting to the local trends and needs of the Romanian community SWIFT ’s global promotion of its solutions and informing about the updates, enhancements or newly-launched products and services. Please find below a schedule for approaching SWIFT’s Romanian customers, as well as institutions not yet connected to SWIFT, on the following topics:
· March 2014: BIC Directory (the SWIFTRef file that can be downloaded and used in any back-office/payments application for SWIFT messages validation and for updating the information about the banking correspondents) and Bankers World Online, an online platform giving access to all worldwide payments reference data available in the SWIFTRef utility (comprising financial information, correspondent banking data and contacts, credit risk ratings, all BIC codes from ISO-registry (200+ countries) from connected and non-connected financial institutions and corporates, all SEPA data, including IBAN/BIC validation and payments routing information, market infrastructures, etc).
· April 2014: Accord for Treasury, a solution enabling real-time matching and exception handling for foreign exchange, money market, OTC derivatives, and commodity trade confirmations. It is a cloud-based solution that avoids any upfront infrastructure investment that can be easily accessed and used to maximize operator efficiency whilst minimizing costs and operational risk in the treasury - back office departments.
· April 2014: SEPA Plus, a SWIFT reference data service providing the data needed to validate SEPA payment messages, as well as the information required for accurate and efficient routing (bank codes and their IBAN suitability to enable IBAN validation, SEPA specific BIC codes to enable completion of the BIC from the IBAN, SEPA routing information: Automated Clearing Houses membership and reachability, SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit adherence to the SEPA schemes, etc).
· May 2014: SWIFT for Corporates – a solution that enables corporates to exchange financial information (payments, securities orders, reporting) with all their financial institutions through one highly secure, standardized communication platform, as opposed to multiple connections, consequently providing more visibility of cash, less cost to manage transactions and improved security and reliability.
· June 2014: Sanctions Screening – a cloud based solution hosted by SWIFT, that provides cost-effective screening of SWIFT messages in real time. SWIFT’s role at the heart of the international financial system enables transactions screening against multiple lists (managed and updated by SWIFT), allowing financial institutions to comply with sanctions laws, by blocking or flagging prohibited transactions in real-time. Being a cloud based solution, Sanctions Screening has no impact on the infrastructure and implies no software to install, making it less expensive than implementing an in-house system.
· June 2014: approaching non-banking institutions active in the financial industry – for those institutions that are interested in exchanging all types of SWIFT messages and file with financial institutions worldwide via a secure, reliable and standardized channel, SWIFT offers Alliance Lite 2, a cloud-based connection to the SWIFT network and related applications and services. With no infrastructure to maintain and minimal upfront investment (usage-based monthly fee), Alliance Lite 2 provides increased automation and straight-through processing of the financial flows.
Given Allevo’s expertise in SWIFT solutions and experience in providing SWIFT professional services, our team expresses its availability to assist the Romanian community of banks, other financial institutions, financial infrastructures and corporates in any SWIFT-related matter.