Mauritius Africa Fintech Hub celebrates 2nd anniversary

Whilst COVID-19 is impacting businesses with lockdowns and physical barriers caused by social distancing measures between stakeholders in the FinTech ecosystem, it is also creating opportunities by accelerating the case for all things digital according to the Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub (MAFH), which celebrated its second anniversary on October 23, 2020 at the Caudan Arts Centre, Port Louis.

Since its launch, MAFH has touched upon every facet of the industry, including financial institutions, venture capital providers, accelerators and incubators, start-ups and policymakers. The organisation is encouraging new developments in this space, attracting new members and partners, and is actively making new connections across the globe. The hub believes in open and mutual collaboration – which have become the community’s keywords.

Commenting on the hub’s second year anniversary, Chief Executive Officer of MAFH, Michal Szymanski said: “Today, we are celebrating our collaboration together in the digitalisation of the Mauritian economy, where we want to be the catalyst and facilitator. All stakeholders are crucial for Mauritius to become the FinTech island we want it to be.”

“We need a free flow of information and access to the correct information to move in the right direction, and along with the Economic Development Board (EDB), we are ready to address the reality. I believe that having open debates about challenges and possibilities only leads us to find solutions to be the leading FinTech hub,” he added.

Speaking at the event, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Board, Ken Poonoosamy, saw that “FinTech plays a vital role of innovation in our ecosystem” and said that he was very pleased to see the progress that had been achieved to date. In his opinion, the “silver lining” is the way that FinTech, digitalisation and the cloud offering had come to the forefront in COVID-19. He underlined that the Regulatory Sandbox Licence regime, which is administered by the EDB, had led to approvals for crowdfunding platforms and blockchain systems, among others. He also noted that the Africa FinTech Festival would be hosted in Mauritius in 2021 and that the EDB welcomed such initiatives.

On this occasion MAFH, in partnership with PwC, revealed the results of the second Mauritius FinTech Ecosystem Mapping survey. The results of the first survey were rolled out in September 2019 after a FinTech ecosystem mapping workshop was conducted, in a concerted effort to map the local FinTech ecosystem and foster better cohesion and collaboration among the key stakeholders of this innovative ecosystem.

The 2020 survey has focused on the evolution of the FinTech ecosystem, challenges, attractiveness of Mauritius and the impact of COVID-19. It was extended to include banks, corporates, technology and academia. There were 140 respondents and 50% from the FinTech industry.
Sharing her insights on the 2020 survey results, Diya Guttoo, Associate Director – Advisory at PwC highlighted that “FinTechs are growing to a mature stage in Mauritius”, where most of them were serving the local B2B market. The survey results showed that 54% of FinTechs in Mauritius have achieved an average turnover up to MUR Rs 5 Million and 63% employ around 10 people. Looking ahead, the survey results identified a need to focus on labs and incubators, data privacy and security, skilled labour force, regulatory environment and ease of obtaining permits and licenses.

Survey results: positive developments in the light of COVID-19:
· 25% Increase in demand for FinTech products and services

· 22% Launched new products and services
· 16% Increased resiliency of respondents’ business model
· 15% Increased collaboration with corporates
· 15% Faster response to market needs
Hurdles to be overcome:
· 23% Greater legal & compliance risks
· 23% Increased price competition
· 13% Faster transition to subscription model
· 20% Greater information security & privacy threats
· 12% Loss of market share

On a concluding note, three MAFH members shared their journeys, namely Fundkiss, MIPS and the Mauritius Commercial Bank. Chief Executive Officer of Fundkiss Paul Perrier explained that the aim of Fundkiss, which launched four years ago, was to “simplify and democratise funding for SMEs” and that the company was now partnering with the SME Equity Fund, which would help them cater for the large market potential. He saw that changing the way that SMEs and entrepreneurs finance themselves would allow entrepreneurs to “create the world of tomorrow”.

Director and Founder of MIPS Payments Sebastien Le Blanc explained that the purpose of MIPS was in “connecting worlds” of the different players in the ecosystem, such as merchants and software providers, and noted the enabling role of MAFH.

Chief Operating Officer of MCB Vincent Chatard commented that MCB had joined MAFH recently as “we want to be part of this key ecosystem”. He explained that MCB had launched its Digital Factory in June 2018 as an incubator for new ways of working. He highlighted that MCB was taking a number of innovative steps forward by working on open banking, introducing Juice Pro for SMEs this year and making it easier to open business bank accounts, among other initiatives.

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