Afro-Asia Fintech Festival announced
Fintech stakeholders from Africa and Asia are preparing to attend the recently announced Arfro-Asia Fintech Festival. It is the first event of its kind and will seek to connect Africa and Asia to network, exchange ideas and build upon Fintech systems in both countries. The inaugural event, dubbed FinTech in the Savannah, will take place in Nairobi, Kenya on 15-16 July 2019.
The event is being organised by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. (MAS) The CBK is responsible for formulating monetary policy and promotes financial stability to its clients. MAS is Singapore’s central bank which specialises in non-inflationary economic growth through appropriate monetary policy formulation.
Dr Patrick Njoroge, Governor, CBK said, “CBK is honoured to partner MAS in co-creating a unique platform for policy-makers, technology entrepreneurs, financial industry leaders and other players to come together and tap their diverse knowledge and experiences. Cross-border cooperation is increasingly important as global problems cannot be resolved in isolation. We need to come together as a global community to learn from each other and co-create solutions that will improve the lives of our people.”
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Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director, MAS, said, “Some of the most exciting developments in technology-enabled financial inclusion are happening in Africa and Asia. The central banks of Kenya and Singapore share a vision to build an Afro-Asia platform to synergise efforts in FinTech innovation. With Kenya and Singapore as the starting points, we hope to bring our two regions closer together to innovate and make financial services more accessible and affordable for our people.”
FinTech in the Savannah attendees can expect a Fintech Conference, exhibition and cultural highlights sharing the best work from the two regions. According to MAS, this years theme is ‘Sustainable Finance: Inclusive and Green.’ Key topics of focus will include: “Technology for Tomorrow”, “Social Impact” and “Spirit of Innovation.”
The event is both modeled after, and in collaboration with the Singapore Fintech Festival, the world’s largest festival, which takes place this year from 11-15. November. The week-long event attracts some 45,000 attendees from acros 130 countries. In their 2018 festival participant demographics, the top ten key influencers, decision makers and investors were from Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. These are promising statistics when predicting the attendance and outcome to be generated from the Savannah Conference.
Stripe backs Step - the digital bank for teens
The Series C round raised US$100m in capital from a number of backers, including Coatue, TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, actor Jared Leto, and Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, for the enterprise.
Step provides a free FDIC-insured bank account and Visa card to teenagers. The accounts are backed by Evolve Bank and there is no subscription charge for its usage. Users don’t pay for their accounts and there are also no overdraft fees.
The mobile banking app enables parents to set controls and limits on spending and encourage responsible finances. According to data released by the company, 88% of the platform’s users say this is their first bank account.
To date, Step has seen great success in the marketplace. The company has raised more than $175m from investors and now has 1.5m users.
Stripe, which was founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, previously led Step’s $22.5m Series A round in 2019.
Step's Series B funding round also brought in $50m, and has a distinctly celeb-tinged reputation with investors including Justin Timberlake and the pop duo The Chainsmokers.
Users get access to a free, FDIC-backed bank account, a spending card and P2P payments platform to send and receive money instantly.
CJ MacDonald, chief executive of Step, said the company is aiming to improve the financial futures of the next generation. “Step is the only banking platform that enables teens to start building a positive credit history before they turn 18 and does not charge fees of any kind.
He has previously spoken about the importance of financial literacy for young people. “Money is just one of those things where I think the more educated and equipped you are early, the better decisions you can make down the road,” he told . “And you can also prevent yourself from making costly mistakes. I mean, the average American doesn't have $400 in emergency savings and pays $350 a year in banking fees. If we can help this next generation just ultimately be smarter and more educated as it pertains to money, I think we'll all be better off.”
Kyle Doherty, managing director at General Catalyst and Step board member, explained, “Gen Z is flocking to modern financial solutions that can be easily embedded within their digital lives and Step has a unique model for how to do this right.”
The news follows on from Stripe’s recent announcement that it plans to acquire TaxJar. The fintech, which builds software for online businesses that automates the reporting and filing of sales taxes, will most likely be integrated with Stripe’s billing services.
Currently, No terms have been disclosed but the Boston start-up had raised more than $60m from investors including Insight Partners.
Stripe chief financial officer Dhivya Suryadevara said of the move, “With TaxJar, we will help millions of internet businesses running on Stripe with their sales tax and make it easier for them to sell internationally.”