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Kenya’s fintech ecosystem has an exciting new player

Big Tech This Week
Kenya’s fintech ecosystem has an exciting new player
By Fatu Ogwuche • Issue #41 • View online
Top of mind: Happy Sunday!
I’m excited to spotlight an emerging startup making a play for market share in one of Kenya’s most challenging industries in our latest Day One feature.
In other news, Elon’s recruiting moneybags for his latest venture, and WhatsApp launches new updates.
Let’s get into it.
3 big things:
  • Tanda’s big moves
  • Elon recruits billionaires
  • WhatsApp’s new features

Kenya’s fintech ecosystem has an exciting new player
Tanda's CEO Geoffrey Mulei | Image credit: Tanda
Tanda's CEO Geoffrey Mulei | Image credit: Tanda
The short: Fintech startup Tanda has broken through Kenya’s most challenging industry and is quickly staking a claim on M-Pesa’s market share. 
Tanda makes a move: Kenya’s reputation as a global hub of financial innovation services on the continent has been driven by big names like Safaricom’s M-Pesa, which retains almost 99% market share, and has dominated Kenya’s mobile money circuit for 15 years. 
However, new startups are making a play for a piece of economic gold. While most startups offer services to easily acquired demographics like millennials with smartphones – the others focus on a more complex demographic to capture – the unbanked. 
CEO Geoffrey Mulei took the road less travelled with Tanda, targeting Dukas (aka mom and pop stores or neighbourhood shops) and customers whose primary engagement with financial technology is through USSD codes.
Mulei spent a lot of time at his mother’s Duka, observing customer behaviour and pain points. His understanding of the complexities involved in running a duka motivated him to build Tanda.
Why Tanda matters:
Tanda services three customers -
  • Traders – offering digital products to customers and accepting digital payments.
  • Consumers – offering quick and easy access to secured payments via a wallet.
  • Developers – providing opportunities for developers to embed Tanda’s API and earn a commission when users purchase a service. 
The four-year-old company created the first interoperable agent network in Kenya so that Dukas can process payments, goods or financial services like loans – all through a unified platform. 
By the numbers: Tanda provides access to over 40 digital financial services – with over 24,000 agents making it the fourth largest agent network in Kenya. In its 4-year history, the company has processed millions of transactions, servicing over 300,000 thousand customers.
Tanda’s keeping an African expansion on its radar, with ambitions to soon serve 100,000 agents and merchants.
New product experimentation: A new feature launching this quarter, known as TandaPay, will allow consumers to send and receive money across banks, both locally and internationally. This feature will enable the much-coveted domestic and international remittance while offering savings, investment, and credit services. 
Eyes on the East: Tanda’s establishing a growing presence in Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda in partnership with a yet to be revealed key player in Nigeria’s fintech space, according to Mulei. 
Final thoughts – to infinity and beyond: With successful agent networks and consumer-facing innovation, it’s still Day One for this emerging startup and its ambitions in one of Kenya’s most competitive industries, outside politics.
I’m not a betting woman, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in Tanda’s success. If for anything, they looked a formidable industry in the eye and threw their heart in the ring. 
Elon Musk recruits billionaire friends to buy Twitter
Tesla CEO Elon Musk | Image credit: CNBC
Tesla CEO Elon Musk | Image credit: CNBC
The short: Elon Musk recruits billionaire friends to invest in a new Twitter deal.
The latest: In the last couple of weeks, we’ve binged on news about Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition. New details of this takeover have continued to unravel, and this week, we learned Musk isn’t only staking his Tesla shares, but he’s recruiting friends to invest in his latest acquisition. 
Here’s what we know: Musk rallied a few billionaires willing to part with a billion bucks to help him achieve his Twitter takeover. So far, he has secured about $7.1 billion in funding for what is slated to be a $44 billion takeover. 
As for the allies bankrolling this takeover – Larry Ellison, co-founder and CTO of Oracle, committed $1 billion. Saudi prince, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, is also reported to be one of Musk’s investors. Plus, China-made cryptocurrency giant, Binance is joining the pot with a $500 million investment in Musk’s latest pet project. 
Stock market shifts: Twitter stocks were up this week by 2.47%. However, beyond market reactions, there are concerns that some of Musk’s investors could attract the same type of regulatory scrutiny TikTok received during the Donald Trump years.
Investments from Saudi Arabia and Chinese-born Changpeng Zhao could trigger the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to investigate national security risks. Moreover, the scrutiny could be exacerbated if Musk gives these investors considerable influence through a sizeable stake or board seat.
Final thoughts: Musk plans to aggressively grow Twitter to 900M users from its current 217 monetisable users. It’s never been done before, and industry insiders doubt Musk is the man for the job. But, if there’s anything we’ve learnt from Musk’s track record, he succeeds at incredibly hard things. 
WhatsApp launches exciting features
WhatsApp Communities | Image credit: WhatsApp
WhatsApp Communities | Image credit: WhatsApp
The short: WhatsApp announced new emoji reactions, Communities and Groups expansion. 
From the blog:
  • Reactions - Emoji reactions are coming to WhatsApp so people can quickly share their opinion without flooding chats with new messages.
  • Admin Delete - Group admins will be able to remove errant or problematic messages from everyone’s chats.
  • File Sharing – We’re increasing file sharing to support files up to 2 gigabytes so people can easily collaborate on projects. 
  • Larger Voice Calls – We’ll introduce one-tap voice calling for up to 32 people with all new design for those times when talking live is better than chatting.
  • Launching Communities – an advanced version of Whatsapp Groups with expanded functions for group admins to allow them better manage their communities. 
A particular audience: I’m told African parents would be excited about the larger file sizes – brace yourself for more long-form videos. Haha. I hope your settings are not set to auto-download photos and videos, because if it is – RIP to your storage space. 
WhatsApp Communities is a feature to look forward to, and with the larger file and group sizes, it might present competition for co-working platforms such as Slack. 
Final thoughts: WhatsApp is establishing itself as the premier app for community and instant messaging. Industry insiders worry about the effect of expanding groups and viral misinformation. However, the company says it would continue to receive feedback from users on creating a safe and secure platform. 
It’s an exciting rollout for users but a challenging time for managing virality within large communities. 
That’s it for the week. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this week’s issue. Please respond to this email or find me on Twitter @fatuogwuche :) 
Ps – do us a solid by sharing the newsletter with your network of tech enthusiasts. Invite them to join the party :)
See you next Sunday!
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Fatu Ogwuche

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