Archive for July, 2016

Career Change: ICT to FinTech

At the end of last year, 2015, I felt the urge to change my career. But as much as I wanted to do that, I surely did not know what I wanted to get into. I am someone who loves technology and for the last 15 years, I have worked in the ICT area. I have worked on and implemented several projects including signature ones like URANet, Oh, I am so proud of this project.

I have a passion for effective service delivery up to the last person in the most remote area of any community and this has always beckoned my engagement. One of my career objectives has been promoting use of ICTs for effective service delivery and I believe I have had some amazing contributions especially in East Africa where I have worked much of my last 15 years.

When I decided to leave Uganda, to try expand my professional reach globally, the idea of changing career was high on agenda but I still did not know what I wanted to get into. My nature is always to have an open mind. And as I was searching out several available opportunities, one from a certain company really caught my attention. When I carried out more research about this company, I was re-introduced to something that I was somehow already involved in, but not paying much attention – FinTech! I was involved in financial technology right from when I was rolling out data links for interconnecting bank branches and ATMs while with Uganda Telecom; I was involved in it while implementing data center solutions for banks; I was involved when I was selling oracle financial solutions including core banking solutions to financial institutions, but I only looked at it as just software and hardware solutions, internet and data links.

Financial Technology (fintech) refers to the use of software and digital platforms to deliver financial services to consumers. These digital tools often disrupt established business models by creating new and efficient means of providing financial services.

This opportunity from this particular company just touched my inner mind and a light bulb popped up to trigger and re-orient my passion to this particular sector, which causes a convergence between technology and finance to help enhance financial inclusion.

Fintech is the new bank and an enabler to new ‘retailtech’ where both these ensure easy and convenient access to finance and easy and convenient purchases from retail stores, especially those which are online.

I come from a region, East Africa, which is the pioneer of mobile money transactions in the world. This has brought tremendous change to the way business transactions are made, improved financial inclusion among the wanainchi and life is really improving. Mobile money is one of the fintech innovations that are causing a lot of disruptions in the traditional banking sector, but also sweeping the world, especially the developing world at astronomical rates.

Why does fintech matter and why is it becoming the new bank, overtaking demographics within the traditional banking sector?

In the context of financial inclusion, fintech holds boundless potential. As new tools and technologies are developed, and old business models are challenged, financial services can be provided with greater speed, accountability, and efficiency.

Access to financial products and services is becoming more attainable than ever, especially for consumers that live in rural locations or regions without the structures of a modern economy. Not only can fintech make these products and services more accessible, it can also make them more affordable by lowering the cost of doing business. Couple this with the near ubiquitous availability of affordable mobile phones and cellular networks, and a world where no one is excluded from the financial system may not be that far out of reach after all.

What fintech advancements are available today?

Microfinance, an often people-and paper-intensive industry that requires loan officers to make numerous trips, sometimes to far-flung rural locations to provide a single client with a loan. Electronic loan applications and banking services could allow for speedy credit decisions and loan disbursal, allowing loan officers to serve more clients in more places than ever before.

Money Transfers (Remittances) traditionally required a trip to your nearest MoneyGram or Western Union, which can be expensive and potentially far away. New companies are simplifying this process by allowing people to send money around the world via a mobile phone for a fraction of what traditional vendors charge. Take examples of M-Pesa, MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money, Tigo Money and so many others dotted all over the world – all most every mobile telephony service provider today offers mobile money transfer services.

Credit History can be a huge road block for people that have never dealt with a financial institution before and these are the majority especially in rural areas of developing countries or emerging markets. Without one, many traditional institutions will not offer products, such as credit, to entrepreneurs that need support to start or expand their business. Fintech makes it possible to harness data from other sources, such as mobile phone payment history or online accounts and social media activity to create an alternative credit history and help a financial institution to make a loan decision.

Cashless Payments present a big opportunity for merchants in the developing world who do not currently enjoy the simplicity and security of digital payments. We all know that dealing with cash is risky and costly, and as more consumers move to digital financing, merchants will need to keep pace. Fintech allows merchants to accept payment from mobile money sources, and gives merchants the ability to easily accept payment from credit and debit cards.

Deferred Payment Plans are now possible, which allow consumers to purchase big tickets items slowly over time, eliminating the need for large sums of cash. Fintech is bringing this convenience to the developing world by allowing consumers to purchase certain items on a pay-as-you go basis.

All these technological innovations pushed my passion level to heights unimaginable. Yes, it is still technology, like it has been before, but to me it is now more meaningful because fintech makes it more personal. I surely will love it here.

To me, FinTech is what finance and technology should always be about – a vehicle for helping individuals and communities thrive.

#fintech #moneytransfer #banking #financialinclusion# #ict