MIX News Brief: 21 September 2018
21 September 2018
Welcome to the MIX News Brief!
Every other week we post recent articles curated by our team of data analysts and financial sector experts. The articles span sectors and topics including fintech, smallholder finance, mobile money and more. The MIX News Brief is intended to keep socially responsible investors and businesses updated on the latest thinking on financial services for the poor because, at MIX, our mission is to provide the data, analytics and insight that enable decision makers to build inclusive financial services ecosystems. Let us know what you think by tweeting at @mix_market!
Since much of what MIX does is at the market-level, we don't usually feature news about individual investments or companies. But the recent round closed by Yoco caught our attention for a number of reasons. One, the South African point-of-sale company is providing solutions that will help not only small businesses but also the credit card-holding customers they serve (the country has a 75 percent credit card penetration rate but only 7 percent of small businesses accept them). Two, this round included an impressive roster of investors including Partech, Orange Digital Ventures, Quona Capital, and, among others, the Dutch development bank FMO. Third, this is FMO's first direct fintech investment globally. We think that's a welcome development worth sharing.
According to Google Trends, 'data science' reached peak popularity earlier this month. That timing couldn't have been better for recently launched Zindi, a "data science competition platform with the mission of building the data science ecosystem in Africa". That might sound like a tall order but Zindi CEO Celina Lee told us via email that in the first week nearly 130 data scientists are already registered. If you have a business problem and a dataset, time to pull out that bottle of champagne - or sparkling wine - you've been saving and tap into Africa's growing community of data scientists.
Back in June, Barclays and Demos hosted a roundtable with stakeholders from business, government, and civil society to discuss the "opportunities and risks fintech poses for financial inclusion" in the United Kingdom. We were hooked when reading that "there was widespread agreement that data were key for spurring further innovation." Yep, we concur. One particular gem that we've read and re-read several times now discusses participants enthusiasm for "a possible 'sandbox' of anonymised transaction data, in order to spur data-based innovation." Let's just bask in the glory of that idea for a few moments longer.
Transcriptions of speeches usually don't make for good reading. But this adaptation of a speech by Malcom Johnson, ITU Deputy Secretary-General, is an exception because of the importance of his appeal. As he says,"The risk is that if not managed properly, the wave of technological change might in fact deepen the inequalities between the digital “haves” and the “have-nots.” While much of the article highlights ITU's contributions to hedging this risk, Mr. Johnson also articulates challenges that many of us grapple with - including data privacy and security - as well as the innovations that could provide solutions, such as artificial intelligence. More to the point, Mr. Johnson impresses upon the reader the importance of working together to "foster inclusive econonic growth" and that's certainly something we can all get behind.
And while you're here ...
Read about our new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to track funding for digital financial services.