Catherine Wines, Director & Co-Founder, WorldRemit Ltd expressed her gratitude to have been invited to Uganda in 2018 as keynote speaker at the Financial Inclusion Week to share a paper on financial inclusion. She was impressed by the vibrancy in the Fintech sector when she visited The Innovation Village and FITSPA (where? In Uganda? We must state the location).
WorldRemit was started with the objective of using technology to solving problems in helping the Diaspora to remit money to their family and friends. Immigrants not only contribute to the GDP but also provide 3 times more aid by sending remittance to their home country in Uganda. Remittances account for over 50% of the EIDP. There is a need to reduce fees levied on remittances. According to World Bank, an average fee to send money is around 7% and in sub-Saharan Africa it is more than 9% equating to over $ 1.9 billion dollars taken off as fee from the remittance that would have been received and utilised for family support.
World Remit, as a FinTech company work with partners and collaborate to resolve problems. WorldRemit was set to change the money transfer transitional sector from an offline model which is still inconvenient for both the sender and receiver, taking cash to a shop, getting charged with fees and then sent to someone to receive cash at the other end.
In 2010, WorldRemit was set up to make sending money easier, faster and also to use technology to make it cheaper, as technology removed the middleman agent. WorldRemit looked at Africa which was leading the way, having 1.7 billion people who are not banking but one billion of them own a mobile device. WorldRemit realised that those people can use their mobile phones as wallets to receive money, and WorldRemit worked with partners to enable this facility to take place.
In Uganda, WorldRemit started working with Shumuk Forex Bureau and once the model was proved to be working, other partners were approached.
Talking to FinTech start-ups from Uganda, Catherine advised that they needed to network more. There are many people willing to help and, in the process, people know someone who know someone starting a business, and such collaboration is very important, which is what helped WorldRemit (helped WorldRemit how? become a success? We should add that here).
The Discovery of mobile wallet in Africa has changed WorldRemit model tremendously. It made life easier for the recipient to receive money in their mobile wallet without having to walk to the next town to withdraw the money. WorldRemit realised that when introducing the mobile wallet, they saw people sending less money but more often. It also allowed the sender to send more money, regardless of amount, to the right recipients. Mobile money has also allowed women to be included on the digital financial inclusion. The impact of mobile money has been effective in rural Africa as it helped to make a lot of people be more financially included and have access to other financial services.
Catherine called upon the government of Uganda to have enabling regulations to support nascent Fintech industry to grow as it creates a lot of jobs and also solves problems using technology.
UK is leading the way in terms of Fintech, but that is made easy because there is a lot of support from the regulators. There is a lot of different bodies that make it easier for FinTech to set up and also to have easy has access to capital. The Ugandan government must do more to give them access to financial capital and attract investors.
Catherine expressed gratitude to Alysia Silberg, General Partner at Street Global Venture Capital who presented on venture capital investing in Africa. Catherine said she always advises Venture Capital agents she meets to look at Africa now as Africa is the future.
Finally, Catherine said she was happy to see women Ministers from Uganda as it is important now to have gender balance and diversity in both public and private sector, making it better to grow a business organisation and improving the work environment.
Subhash Thakrar, the Vice Chairman of London Chambers of Commerce complimented Catherine’s presentation and added that Africa has great potential for the Fintech sector to grow. In the UK, we have schemes like Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) where tax reliefs are offered to individual investors who buy new shares in small companies to allow small start-ups to receive more funding. EIS is designed so that companies can raise money to help grow their businesses.
Geoffrey Semaganda requested Catherine to tell her story on how WorldRemit was started to reach its current status as one of the biggest money transfer companies, a story that would help inspire others. Catherine responded that she does a lot of mentoring with co-founders, helping young people to understand how to progress in life.