We recently caught up with Sankha Jinasena, Director of Sales of Be Mobile Africa where we chatted about how neobanks are changing the face of financial services as well as trends and what most excites him about Be Mobile Africa’s business banking offering.
Jana: The neobank landscape is changing the face of financial services. What is the biggest opportunity you currently see?
Sankha: The opportunity for African businesses to become real global players. By enabling businesses in Africa to have USD/EUR and GBP wallets, it becomes easier to conduct cross border business with other companies all over the globe, whether the companies are based in Europe, Asia or America. African businesses have struggled for far too long with the over regulation, restrictions and the costs of using traditional banks. With the technology behind Neo banks it is unheard of to wait for payments that can take up to a couple of days and even weeks or months in some cases. Business moves fast, currency rates are moving daily and it is imperative to send and receive payments within minutes and hours rather than days and weeks. Neobanks provide speed, reliability and ease of use that enables any business to operate in the global economy.
Jana: What problems do you see neobanks solving in the next 5 – 10 years?
Sankha: There are a number of problems that will be solved including:
- Cash flow problems due to delayed payments.
- Higher savings – Companies can invest in Defi structures in order to earn higher yields and optimise treasury management.
- Reduce costs of operating globally – Neobanks will enable companies to send and receive multi currency payments at a fraction of the costs of a traditional bank.
- Interoperability – Neobanks provide much higher interoperability than traditional banks, i.e. Neobanks can provide services for fiat/cryptocurrencies and mobile money. All you need is a mobile phone and you have the ability to conduct traditional banking services in the palm of your hand, whether it is cross border payments, opening a savings account or getting a loan.
- Financial inclusion and banking the unbanked – With the low cost of overheads, Nebanks can provide free to low cost services to a large segment of the low LSM groups.
Jana: A BPC report I recently read shows that there has been a rise in the launch of digital banks in Africa since 2017, due to the growing needs of the continent’s population and low banking infrastructure. What trends are you currently seeing in the neobank space?
Sankha: Neo banks are providing the opportunity for a large portion of low income groups in Africa to be part of the financial system. Many of the issues in Africa that have kept millions in poverty are due to a lack of financial services. Neobanks can bank the unbanked and financial inclusion has been a big part of the growth of Neobanks, many of the fintechs have seen the opportunity to use technology such as the blockchain to create platforms to provide opportunities in Africa. We are currently seeing a huge uptake of fintechs and blockchain technology in Africa. Due to the interoperability of these platforms you can plug in multiple payments services and platforms that will enable people in some of the most remote areas to be part of the financial system and help them to grow their small business and thrive in the global economy.
Jana: While Africa currently has 21 digital banks that together serve more than 18 million customers, South Africa and Nigeria alone account for around 80% of these structures. These countries are the most developed on the continent in terms of network and Internet infrastructure. Which other markets is Be Mobile Africa currently exploring?
Sankha: Sub Saharan and West Africa are the two regions that seem to be the most promising for Be Mobile Africa. These are the markets we are exploring at the movement but East and North Africa also part of the plans and eventually the whole continent.
Jana: Neobanks offer innovative features and offerings that are different from traditional banks including fast account opening, instant payments, lower costs, P2P payments, user-friendly interfaces, etc. What are some of the top innovations you’re currently seeing in the space?
Sankha: There have been many developments in this space including:
- High yield savings accounts – You can earn 5% annually on a USD or EUR account (provided by Be Mobile Africa of course),
- The ability to conduct forex transactions instantly at very competitive rates.
- Having a single account that holds both Fiat and Crypto wallets.
- The ability to convert crypto to fiat and vice versa and then use the account to make third party payments.
Jana: You’ve just launched Be Mobile Africa’s business banking offering in the near future. What excites you most about the offering?
Sankha: Everything! Being able to provide all kinds of business with the ability to transact globally. Opening multi currency wallets in the same account – this can provide many businesses in Africa to manage multi location business around the continent. Cash flow issues will be a problem of the past – Be Mobile Africa’s Business banking platform will allow companies to send and receive funds in seconds and minutes from all over the world. Many businesses in South Africa and Africa in general have struggled with not being able to transact in EUR, USD and GBP. With the Be Mobile Business account that won’t be a problem anymore. This will enable the growth of businesses and help towards increased productivity and development in Africa.