Fintech defines new trends in financial services offerings for farmers

By 2020, consumers may not turn to banks to get the financial services they need. We are already seeing other companies invading the space traditionally reserved for financial institutions. The reason? “Fintech” – financial technology – which is innovative new technology and software aiming to compete with traditional methods in the delivery of financial services to the consumer.

For those who might not know what Fintech is, it’s simply the use of software solutions for financial transactions – global examples include Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Wonga and a myriad of other solutions that are offered online or via mobile phones. Some examples include M-Pesa, SnapScan and Nomanini, to name but a few. To indicate the scale of Fintech, back in 2014 already, investment in the US had tripled to $9,89 billion, with Europe investing $1,5 billion.

The disruption caused by Fintech has changed the banking world as we know it. The Financial services industry has been in existence since the 14th century and has always stood the test of time. However, recently it has had to adapt to keep up with the technology evolution. This Goliath has no doubt been shaken up by modern technology’s David – the Fintech revolution.

For traditional financial institutions, the risk of disruption is real, as Fintech companies use the internet, mobile phones, cloud computing and open-source software to make banking and investing more efficient. These Fintech start-ups offer existing financial services at lower costs and offer new tech-driven solutions, not previously available and driven by traditional banks. Financial institutions – both legacy and start-ups – are also driving technology-focused solutions such as peer-to-peer payments, crowdfunding, mobile payments and transfers, and on-demand insurance. Examples here include Avant, Lending Club, Qufenqi, Affirm and SocietyOne.

What does Fintech mean for agriculture?

For agriculture, the rise of Fintech means easier access to funds, new competitors in financial services and a global reach. Selling cattle or produce? Fintech and digital markets can now connect farmers directly to buyers on a mobile platform, doing away with the middleman. Important to note is that Fintech not only minimises the dependency on traditional banks as the middlemen, but increases the use of peer-to-peer lending, growing and strengthening the sharing economy model. Good examples are M-Pesa and FarmDrive in Kenya, where FarmDrive connects smallholder farmers to loans and financial management tools through their mobile phones.

In Mozambique, the Institute of Cereals of Mozambique (ICM), which is responsible for regulating and promoting agricultural production and commercialisation under the remit of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, recently joined forces with FinComEco to link agriculture to the latest financial technology.

The collaboration will develop a range of projects and high impact initiatives in the agricultural commodity markets sector. ICM, with its Mozambique domain knowledge, countrywide network of warehouses facilitating smallholder farmers, traders and buyers, will deliver commercialisation and operational capabilities. FinComEco will provide the commodity trading platform and electronic warehouse receipts capabilities, as part of the wider FinComEco model. This includes distribution of third party agri-finance and electronic banking facilitation enabled by scalable technology supported by its partner GMEX Group

In South Africa, PICSA is a ground-breaking organisation whose primary aim is to responsibly protect and assist the lower-income active population through the provision of credit solutions. At the core of their offering is the savings platform, offering members real returns by saving as little as R25 a month. Their comprehensive products scale to cater to every stage of the saving journey, thereby contributing to the financial well-being of employees in the agricultural sector.

With the pace of technology developing so quickly, it is difficult to say what the next 10 years will look like. For agricultural financial services and its customers, it may mean the possibility of loans backed by cryptocurrency – currencies such as Bitcoin, a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer – by 2025. What is important though is that AFGRI as a company, the agricultural sector as an industry, and South Africa as country do not get left behind.


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