Daily Review: Africa Emerges as the Most Important FinTech Battleground

Five-hundred and fifteen million individuals opened an account for the first time over the past three years, reducing the unbanked population to 1.7 billion adults worldwide. However, the new data also reveal critical shortcomings in progress. For instance, the financial inclusion gender gap didn’t improve. Globally, women remain 7% less likely to own a bank account than men. – The Global Findex Database 2017, Measuring Financial Inclusion and the FinTech Revolution

Pick #1. New Global Findex: 69% of Global Population Is Banked

  • Half of the 1.7 billion unbanked individuals worldwide live in just seven countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

  • In higher-income countries, 94% of adults have a bank account, while in developing countries, this figure is 63%.

  • The proportion of individuals globally who send or receive digital payments increased from 42% to 52%; this figure is 76% for those who have a bank account.

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of individuals with a mobile money account nearly doubled to 21%, while bank account ownership increased by only 4%.

  • Globally, roughly two-thirds of those who are unbanked have a mobile phone, but Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where mobile money penetration is greater than 10%.

  • In addition to the persistent gender gap, the difference in bank account ownership rates between the rich and the poor has not improved, with those living in the wealthiest 60% of households in the poorest 40% of economies 13 percentage points more likely to have a bank account.

  • The accounts of one-fifth of banked individuals worldwide are inactive.

  • Urban populations continue to benefit from far broader access to finance than rural communities. In China, around 200 million rural adults remain outside the formal financial system.

The power of financial technology to expand access to and use of accounts is demonstrated most persuasively in Sub-Saharan Africa, where, as mentioned earlier, 21% of adults now have a mobile money account – nearly twice the share in 2014 and easily the highest of any region in the world. While mobile money has been centered in East Africa, the 2017 update reveals that it has spread to West Africa and beyond.

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Pick #2. BBVA Unveils New Categories for World’s Biggest FinTech Competition

BBVA Open Talent has unveiled a new incentive. This year’s competition sees the bank looking for the best and brightest ideas that will shape the future of financial services. BBVA will award a total of €150,000 to the three winners of the following prizes: FinTech for Future, FinTech for Business, and FinTech for People.

In addition to the main prizes, BBVA will also be searching for the rising stars within categories the business has identified as key areas for growth. Of the 12 categories identified, BBVA will be selecting the best entry it sees in each, to bring along to a dedicated immersion week at the bank later this year.

This year, the categories selected for the BBVA FinTech Business Awards, are:

  • InsurTech

  • RegTech

  • New Payments

  • FinTech for Companies

  • Financial Inclusion

  • FinTech for Sustainable Finance

  • Automated Advisory and Financial Health

  • Automation of Internal Processes

  • Assets Management & Wealth

  • Lending in the Open Market

  • Digital Marketing & Sales

  • Consumer Finance

Startups can register for BBVA Open Talent 2018 until May 3, 2018, 11:59 PM (San Francisco, USA time). Registrations after that time will not be permitted. For updates and more information, follow BBVA Open Innovation.

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Pick #3. Record High Remittances to Low- and Middle-Income Countries in 2017

Remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached $466 billion in 2017, an increase of 8.5% over $429 billion in 2016. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, grew 7% to $613 billion in 2017, from $573 billion in 2016.

Remittance inflows improved in all regions and the top remittance recipients were India with $69 billion, followed by China ($64 billion), the Philippines ($33 billion), Mexico ($31 billion), Nigeria ($22 billion), and Egypt ($20 billion).

Remittances are expected to continue to increase in 2018, by 4.1% to reach $485 billion. Global remittances are expected to grow 4.6% to $642 billion in 2018.

The global average cost of sending $200 was 7.1% in Q1 2018. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive place to send money to, where the average cost is 9.4%. Major barriers to reducing remittance costs are de-risking by banks and exclusive partnerships between national post office systems and money transfer operators. These factors constrain the introduction of more efficient technologies – such as internet and smartphone apps and the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain – in remittance services.