The Future of Money in Africa
The expansion of mobile telecommunication and internet networks across Africa has spurred the growth of financial technology (FinTech), a branch of the tech sector combining financial services and data technology. FinTech corporations promise financial inclusion of what are euphemistically called “underbanked people” as well as the promotion of small-scale entrepreneurship and, as a result, poverty reduction. In practice, however, mobile money networks exploit their market power by charging high fees and push low-income households to take on private debt, often causing more harm than good.
In our latest dossier, Fabio De Masi lays out an overview of the role and future of money in the economy and the perils of investor-driven FinTech in Africa, and discusses political solutions including Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the public use of financial technology, and need to protect the use of cash for small-scale transactions of poorer households. As FinTech companies scramble to capture the African market, it is vital that the state and civil society actors work to strengthen regulation and protect the interests of working people across the continent.