Why We Need To Bank On Fintech (Especially In Emerging Markets)

Fintech offers the means to leapfrog old technologies straight to the new to a huge and receptive market waiting to take advantage, and we have only just scratched the surface in this regard.

By
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

While the term "emerging markets" is undoubtedly modern, they have always offered attractive returns for investment, be it through capital flows or hard graft and toil. From ancient times, when the first agrarian communities traded their surplus crops or livestock, to our digital age when futures yet to be realized are bought and sold using a smartphone, the potential for emerging markets to develop and improve is far greater than mature markets- and the yield will demonstrate that. When you then combine emerging technology with an emerging market, the potential multiplies further.

Shutterstock

This should explain why looking to invest in fintech businesses and product developments in markets such as Africa and the Middle East is becoming especially appealing. After all, we can see fintech becoming indispensable in developed Western states, as its inherent disruptive potential provides cheaper and faster access to financial services. The need in developing economies is significantly different; there, the inability of banks to provide access to financial services for the majority is an impediment to growth and prosperity. This is especially apparent in African countries, where true economic development will be almost impossible without financial inclusion to liberate the underserved, release their potential, and transform regional economies.

Fintech offers the means to leapfrog old technologies straight to the new to a huge and receptive market waiting to take advantage, and we have only just scratched the surface in this regard. That's why, while some older economies are seeing a decline in investor interest, it is the emerging markets that are attracting both the serious and the curious. In the West, practically everyone that wants one has a bank account and a credit card of some type, but in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), where there is a massive underserved and underbanked community of 800 million smartphone users, new digital solutions are providing access to finance and the ability to spend and be paid, assisting the maturation of economies that would have taken decades to achieve otherwise.

As well as identifying and supporting the new processes and those developing them, there is the opportunity to identify those leading the markets and crossing both the key demographics and national boundaries- even continents. These multipliers of the customer base impact positively on potential investment returns, and they can turn the funding of startups and scaleups into large deals. The MEA is ideally placed globally for fintech due to the size and the fastest-growing number of young aspiring people who are open to change and quick to adopt new technology. Businesses such as my company, Pyypl, are now graduating from startup to growth phase, and now is the time to consider investing in their growth, as the evidence of these pioneering businesses and their concepts show success can be delivered and sustained.

Related: A Launchpad For Success: The UAE Is On A Mission To Establish Itself As A Global Hub For The Fintech Industry

Not only does the MEA market offer profitable opportunities, but it also can deliver equity in opportunity and sustainability that tie-in with the goals of governments who are keen to keep their populations content and prospering. Successful fintech businesses help drive a livelier and more prosperous economy and provide containable social change as improved employment, public services, and standards of living spread benefits to a far wider public. For governments, the greater generation of tax revenues from a vibrant growing economy can be reinvested into education, health, and infrastructure to bring further reward to the populace. Meanwhile, moving people from bankless to cashless to crypto, promoting financial and social inclusion, and job creation are the real benefits from the fintech investments being made.

When Pyypl launched its cashless financial services to the unbanked in the Gulf, it provided a strategic advantage for future rollouts across Africa– launching in Kenya and Mozambique was a natural progression of our business model. Being a multi-market and multi-product fintech enterprise helps provide stability as well as adaptability, and it also makes it well-placed to expand. Transferring the application of such knowledge from one market into a neighboring one in today's high-paced environment is much quicker than moving at the analog pace of only a few years ago.

From a technology standpoint, being able to adapt to specific nuances in different markets is the key to success for fintech enterprises. Every country in Africa has differing elements of focus that one needs to adapt to– and you do not always know until you enter the market and see the activity if further adaptation will be necessary. Some countries have segments of different needs, becoming like countries within countries. While we can see trends emerging, one does not know for sure how fintech and economies will evolve, so we must be technologically enabled to integrate and build partnerships quickly in the right areas to provide essential services the people require. By solving these challenges, we spread success to our customers and investors– and at a pace previously unknown.

Now is the time when international investors are moving in on the space, eyeing up the opportunities to identify the right horse to back. The fintech enterprise that can truly achieve a Middle East and pan-Africa business with deep regional experience and expertise will emerge as the brand winner with multi-market domination and best investor returns.

Related: Competitive Advantage: Exploring The Middle East's Potential To Become A Global Fintech Hub