Lusaka, Zambia. Taha Jiwaji, Founder CEO of Beem, an integrated cloud communications provider, participated in a panel discussion at the Africa Fintech Summit 2023. The event took place from November 2-3.
Mr. Jiwaji’s panel included investment advisor Zekarias Amsalu, Digital PayGo CEO Charity Chitalu Mwanza, and Gilbert Hlucwayo Lungu of Cellulant Zambia, discussed the challenges and opportunities of enabling last-mile digital financial services across Africa.
Last-mile tech will allow provision of financial services to underserved or unbanked populations. It often involves using innovative technologies, such as mobile banking and microfinance, to reach customers in rural areas or those who lack access to traditional banking services.
Key takeaways from Taha’s panel:
- Traditional businesses often lack the agility to operate effectively at the last mile. This is because they are often large and bureaucratic, and they may not be able to adapt their products and services to the specific needs of rural or low-income customers.
- Digital and financial literacy are still key barriers to adoption of services. Many people in Africa do not have the knowledge or skills to use digital financial services. This can be due to a lack of education, a lack of access to technology, or simply a lack of awareness of the benefits of using these services.
- Trust in digital service providers is a major challenge due to scams and fraud. There have been a number of high-profile scams and fraud cases involving digital financial services in Africa. This has eroded trust in these services, making it more difficult for people to adopt them.
- Smartphone penetration on the continent is still low, but growing rapidly. Currently, only about 30% of Africans have smartphones. However, this number is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. This will make it easier for people to access digital financial services.
- Social and conversational commerce on platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram will become key channels for delivering last mile services. These platforms are already widely used in Africa, and they provide a convenient and accessible way for people to communicate and conduct transactions.
Beem develops Pan African communications platforms for SMS , USSD, airtime, payments, and chat. It provides enterprises with the tools they need to reach and engage with customers in rural and urban areas.