Fintech FICA Specialist A finalist In Accenture Innovation Index Awards

Posted on October 18th, 2017
Biz News

Today's Top Entrepreneurship And Business Stories (18 October)



Fintech startup, ThisIsMe, announced that it has been selected as one of three finalists in the Accenture Innovation Index Awards for its Fast FICA concept. The company also recently announced that it had been selected to participate in this year’s Gartner’s Innovation Programme.

The Accenture Innovation Index provides an in-depth analysis of the country’s current state of innovation and rewards forward-thinking businesses that are disrupting industries. Winners of the 2017 awards will be announced at the Accenture Innovation Conference. The event will see the world’s leading innovators, outliers and disruptors converge on 17 October 2017 in Johannesburg.

ThisIsMe, led by co-founders Juan Furmie and David Thomas, enables businesses to reduce fraud, automate FICA/KYC checks, improve onboarding and increase revenue while providing an on-demand, seamless customer experience. The fintech business can complete the FICA process in under three minutes – an African record.

It attracted $2.5m in funding in 2016 and has processed more than one million verifications. It is expanding into African and international markets and counts Sanlam and Silica as customers. It was also ranked one of the best global regtech companies by the CB Insights team in 2017.

It’s not only financial institutions that require FICA systems. Businesses in property, retail, eCommerce, SMMEs, gambling and many other sectors require efficient FICA processes.

“Successful companies are finding ways to embed innovation – to allow ideas and the decision-making process to flow in a far better way,” noted innovation lead at Accenture Rory Moore, when speaking about the index and upcoming conference. “That state of innovation flow separates the leaders from the laggards.”

Thomas says, “Until recently, the process to establish and verify the identities of clients has largely been paper-based with clients having to arrive at a bank branch, for instance, for face-to-face identification. This tedious process of FICA onboarding has increased costs for institutions to between R300 and R1500 for each client.”

ThisIsMe’s digital platform makes it faster, cheaper and more accurate. The entire process is completed digitally, with machine learning technology ensuring that documents aren’t tampered with. With a client’s permission, we are able to verify that a client is indeed who they say they are.”

ThisIsMe is a gold member of AlphaCode, a club for fintech entrepreneurs and the fintech investment arm of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings.

SqwidNet Launches IoT Entrepreneurship Programme (IoT)E

SqwidNet, the licensed Sigfox IoT network operator in South Africa, yesterday announced the launch of its entrepreneurship programme, (IoT)E – IoT to the power E. This programme aims to empower entrepreneurs who would like to develop their skills and knowledge to become established players in the IoT ecosystem nationally and internationally.

According to the Worldwide and Regional Internet of Things 2010-2014 Forecast by the IDC, the IoT market opportunity for the Middle East and Africa region is poised to grow by 10% CAGR, from $85.1 billion in 2017 to $114.4 billion by 2020. These statistics highlight the massive untapped potential for IoT in the region, including Africa; and with the (IoT)E programmeSqwidNet will ensure the necessary skills and knowledge to operate in this industry are imparted to all who are interested.

“The next wave of entrepreneurship and innovation for Africa must come from within the continent itself. Over the years we have seen our continent’s engineers and entrepreneurs have great ideas, but often lack the means and sometimes even the tools to convert these ideas into viable businesses. Our programme is designed to not only provide the necessary tools, but also give guidance to enable these brilliant minds to take their products to market,” says Reshaad Sha, CEO of SqwidNet.

The (IoT)E programme will focus on three key development areas during a three-day workshop:

  • Device Development – During the first day of the workshop, SqwidNet and its device ecosystem partners will facilitate a makers workshop. The participants will be given development kits and taken through the process of building a device with sensors to solve real-world sensing and monitoring problems.
  • Software and Analytics – On the second day, participants will be introduced to IoT software platforms, giving them the opportunity to create basic dashboards to analyse the high-level data being collected in the device they developed.
  • Business Skills – The third and final day of the workshop will focus on providing participants with a high level of business acumen skills.

The workshop will be followed by a weekly webinar over a period of six weeks where participants will be afforded the opportunity to interact with and learn from experts in device development, platform development and entrepreneurship.

Potential participants should submit their motivations on Twitter using the hashtag #iotep or tagging @sqwidnet in their tweet. Alternatively, those interested in participating can send an email to 25 individuals will be selected as the first round of participants, and will start their programme in January 2018.

In order to deliver significant value to successful participants who manage to build working prototypes, SqwidNet, with its channel and ecosystem partners, will make available a funding pool that could be accessed by the participants to enable entrepreneurs to go from prototype to production.

SqwidNet IoT solutions focus across a number of industry verticals ranging from security notification solutions, to asset tracking, tamper detection and environmental monitoring, as well as projects in the water metering space. The IoT ecosystem is vast and the possibilities are endless for individuals or even small businesses to participate in it and come up with their own unique solutions to real world African problems.

Sigfox, a global IoT network, has established an ecosystem reaching 36 countries. Through SqwidNet, the network currently reaches 64% of the population in South Africa. Their proposition comprises low-cost, long-range, low-power modules and devices that serve up IoT data in a secure and cost-efficient manner to application and service providers.

GE Africa CEO Wins Prestigious Princeton In Africa Award

Jay Ireland, CEO and president of GE Africa was one of two to receive a Princeton in Africa award at the programme’s annual gala awards which was held on Monday, 16 October in New York. Founded in 1999, Princeton in Africa develops young leaders committed to Africa’s advancement by offering year-long fellowship opportunities with a variety of organizations that work across the African continent.

Since the programme’s launch in 1999, they have had 545 fellows in 36 countries. This year, 48 recent college graduates (from 31 colleges and universities) are working with 31 organizations in 13 African countries.

Speaking at the event, Jay Ireland said “GE is committed to investing and expanding its business in Africa. Despite the recent economic challenges, we firmly believe in a bright future for the continent and see ourselves as partners in Africa’s sustainable development.”

Ireland’s journey started six years ago, when he relocated to Nairobi, Kenya to lead GE’s efforts in Africa. GE had been on the continent for over 100 years. However, the company wanted to get a broader GE focus on the infrastructure issues and subsequent opportunities in developing markets. So, in 2011, the company set up an African headquarters in Kenya and started adding people across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Today, GE’s footprint consists of over 3200 employees, revenues of about $3.9 billion (2016) and operations in 33 countries across Africa.

GE Africa’s corporate social responsibility platform, Kujenga, launched in 2014, aims to empower people by building valuable skills, equip communities with new tools and technology, and elevate innovative ideas that are helping solve Africa’s challenges. One of the company’s Kujenga initiatives, the GE Lagos Garage advanced manufacturing skills program, has enabled over 100 prototypes to be developed at the hub and over 20 innovative ideas transformed into actual business models in Nigeria.

Princeton in Africa matches talented and passionate college graduates with organizations working across Africa for year-long service placements. The programme is open to graduating seniors and young alumni from any college or university accredited in the U.S. The programme’s fellows have helped improve education and public health, source fresh water and alternative energy, increase family incomes, and more.