Conducive policy environment key driver of digital solutions – experts.

Our Reporter.

Financial technology companies (fintechs) have called for a conducive environment to enhance the adoption of digital financial solutions.

The appeal was made by Oscar Ofumbi, the Head of Business at Lend in a Box, a financial technology company during the two-day fintech landscape exhibition at Sheraton Kampala Hotel last week.

According to Ofumbi, the lack of a conducive policy makes adoption of digital financial solutions difficult.

“If you have a good policy, adoption will be a lot easier because when you talk about an ecosystem, you are talking about the people that are involved in the entire value chain. You need a good policy to ensure that each and everyone’s interest are well taken care of,” Ofumbi said.

It should be noted that while Parliament passed the National Payment Systems (NPS) Bill, 2019 about a month and a half ago, that will among others seek to regulate and provide for the safety and efficiency of payment systems and issuance of electronic money, the president is yet to assent to it.

Citing the Data Protection and Privacy Act (2019), the National Broadband policy and the NPS Bill, the Information and Communication Technology Minister Judith Nabakooba said that the government has set up a conducive legal regime that supports the growth of the sector.

However, Ronald Azairwe, the Pegasus Technologies managing director said that while there is more regulation which is expected to level the playing ground, the NPS is a double edged sword, which he said could make it a little harder for fintech startups to start. This, he said, is because of the whole licensing regime they are supposed to undergo.

“Regulation stands in the way of innovation; we have erratic regulations that sometimes come up and stifle innovation,” he said.

The landscape festival was organised by HiPipo, to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, which was held in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The engaged fintechs were equipped with interoperability skills, using Mojaloop, a switching platform with a centralised service that brings together digital financial service providers to help boost financial inclusion in Africa.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya said HiPipo will continue advocating for a leveled playing field for all fintech players but noted that collaboration is needed to achieve this.

He said the project will not only change the way financial inclusion is done in the world but also transform millions of lives in years to come and change the way financial inclusion is going to be done in Uganda going forward.

Kawooya alluded to the need to secure payment platforms, saying that without that, people will lose trust and confidence in the digital payments systems.

“HiPipo recognises that this 40 Days 40 FinTechs season is just the beginning, and so much more needs to be done especially around raising the levels of confidence of customers in the digital payment systems. We shall continue with the same fearlessness: we are proud to continue forging Africa’s digital and financial landscape. And with the potential we have seen, with the talent we have helped nurture, we know that to ‘Include Everyone’ is more than just a dream, it is something we are making real…,” Kawooya said.

More Collaboration Will Foster Digital Financial Services Security

Trust of the financial eco system is central to mass adoption and deepening financial inclusion. Concerns of fraud and loss of customers` funds more so funds for the poor can lead to deep hesitation to use digital financial platforms and tools.

Mobile money has largely been delivered with more traditionally secure telecom channels such as USSD and STK. While these have their know vulnerabilities, their technical exploitation has been less perpetrated but a lot of social engineering through communication and persuasion of unsuspecting customers to share PIN, OTP and send money to fraudsters has been a very regular occurrence in the leading mobile money markets.

The era of interoperability fueled by leading platforms such as Majoloop will potentially increase the scale of possibility to fraud with fraudsters on one network targeting those on another network or bank to transfer funds over the interoperable Majoloop powered switch.

As thus, the industry stakeholders and players including telecoms, banks and regulators that handle KYC, need to collaborate more to share information of sim card centered frauds that fuel mobile social engineering fraud.

HiPipo Foundation Include Everyone program will take extra effort in our research, education and advocacy campaigns to ensure stakeholders appreciate the increased scale of social engineering fraud and collectively collaborate for information sharing.  This will also supplement efforts to combat AML and CFT.

Another dimension of growing risk is increased transactions over new generation digital channels i.e Apps, Web and social banking. Cybercrime that was initially Internet IP centric will hence forth increase as we see channel advances. Similarly, effort from tech and regulatory fronts will have to be boosted to hasten cyber protection of unsuspecting and naive consumers of which majority would likely be the poor, women and youth that a newly banking or semi banking citizens.

Join HiPipo Foundation during the Include Everyone advocacy events series to discuss these issues and provide best practice recommendation to addresses these financial inclusion challenges.