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2021, the year for Big Data, AI and machine learning in finance

By , Founder and CEO of the FinTech MFS Africa
Africa , 21 Dec 2020
Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of the FinTech MFS Africa.
Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of the FinTech MFS Africa.

2020 will no doubt be a year to remember. The Coronavirus pandemic has completely overhauled everything we do, from socialising with friends, travelling around cities, even extending to how we spend our money.

In Africa specifically, the spread of COVID-19 has underlined the importance of financial resilience and the need for government regulators to work cohesively with mobile money operators, money transfer organisations and payments Fintech companies to provide enabling infrastructures that support the movement of financial relief during these times.

Mobile money is not just a force for financial inclusion, it's now also driving an increasing array of economic activity in Africa. The pandemic has accelerated this shift as brick-and-mortar closures and lockdowns restrict in-person payments, and mobile money is now increasingly used to make e-commerce transactions, to lend money p2p, to receive remittances - and the number of use cases is growing by the day.

Correspondingly, regulators will move beyond a bank-centric approach adopted in the earlier stages of MM development, as they recognise that these diverse use cases require a more activity- and risk-based approach to regulation, that is adapted to how people actually use the technology.

Precipitated by this year’s events, we expect to see more regulators taking an evidence-based approach to regulations in order to balance both openness to innovation and risk mitigation to protect payments and financial systems.

Proportionality will remain a key theme in driving regulation that does not further exclude people who cannot access a bank account, however, we also think more regulators will also include economic growth and diversification as part of their thinking on regulating MM, and cross-border mobile money payments in particular.

Big Data and AI

Everyday people – as consumers and as citizens – generate information through their interaction with public and private products and services. Prudently applied, this information can be used to design solutions and products that can solve for the real needs of individuals and household by offering a wealth of information that supports entrepreneurial activities, and public policy decision-making on the continent.

For too long, products and services offered in Africa have been scoped based on assumptions and data from other markets. There’s enormous value in putting this wealth of data collected from the digital-first continent – where mobile financial services have been the norm for a decade in many markets – to use.

We’re now able to see the potential that big data, AI and machine learning could have on the financial services industry and with the increased data volumes in recent years, 2021 will be the year that big data, AI and machine learning is embraced by the financial services industry, driving innovation and product development at an unprecedented rate. With the right data, we can solve for the real needs of Africans.

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