PAN-African banking giant, Ecobank, has announced the three winners of the 2018 edition of the Fintech Challenge, during a ceremony recently held at the bank’s headquarters in Lome, Togo.
According to a statement issued by the media office of the bank and made available to Tribune Online, on Friday, the competition was keenly contested with applications from over 412 innovative fintech entrepreneurs from across Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.
Nala, Virtual Identity and Wallet.ng emerged the three winners of the competition in which all 11 finalists were officially inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship programme to explore commercial partnerships with the pan-African banking giant.
Nala, from Tanzania, beat the 10 other finalists to emerge as the overall winner of the competition and won a cash prize of US$10,0000, while Virtual Identity from South Africa and Wallet.ng from Nigeria emerged as the first and second runners-up, winning $7,000 and US$5,000, respectively.
Nala, a Tanzania-based mobile money application that works offline without an internet connection, provides a unified user experience in which multiple financial services can be connected on one application. It can host multiple SIMs, enabling users to manage their spending and take control of their finances.
Second-placed Virtual Identity is an innovative platform designed to disrupt traditional customer onboarding for banks. The process is fully digital, creating a virtual video conferencing link between the agent and the customer, while its easy-to-use web-based solution allows the client to complete tedious KYC processes from anywhere, making it both convenient and time-saving.
The third-placed prize winner, Wallet.ng, is a start-up providing an alternative bank for a growing generation of digital natives and its core strength is building a banking platform that is as native to customers’ devices as Facebook and WhatsApp.
Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO, praised the finalists for their innovative solutions and welcomed them to the Fellowship, adding: “We are proud of the impressive start-ups that made it to our 2018 final.
“They are shining examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that will propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the commercial services markets and I sincerely expect some, if not all, of them to be the business titans of tomorrow.
“They have my congratulations and we look forward to working closely with all 11 fellows over the next year to deliver innovative banking services at better price-points that will improve the lives of Africans.”
All the 11 finalists were inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, a one-year business program where they can explore opportunities for commercial partnerships with the Ecobank Group to launch and scale products across Ecobank’s 33 country markets in the continent.
Launched in 2017, the second year of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge brought together fintech start-ups and innovators, policymakers, investors and development organisations from across the world to network, witness the 2018 finalists’ exhibitions and celebrate the induction of the finalists into the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Fellowship.
Also present at the finals was the Minister of Business Development of Ghana, Honourable Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, who commended Ecobank for the initiative and urged more support for young African entrepreneurs to improve job creation on the continent.