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Quick route to market via the cloud for Africa's fintech startups

Quick route to market via the cloud for Africa's fintech startups.

Management at telecommunications services and solutions provider British Telecommunications plc (BT) believes the integration of fintech startups into its networked financial community, the BT Radianz Cloud, will help accelerate innovation within financial markets.

According to BT fintech startups have a great deal to offer as a growing source of innovation within these markets, but are up against significant challenges because of their size.

These challenges include market adoption, delivery and the ability to meet stringent contractual or compliance expectations of large financial institutions.

BT suggests that these startups have the opportunity to exploit the Radianz Cloud model and host their solutions in the data centres, or on cloud computing services.

'The Radianz Cloud links a community of thousands of brokers, institutions, exchanges and clearing and settlement houses. Through a single, resilient and secure network connection, members can reliably access thousands of applications and services from more than 400 providers critical to the every-day running of the global financial sector," the company says.

Fintech startup Algomi, which provides information matching solutions to optimise fixed income liquidity and aggregation, has taken this route to market.

Usman Khan, chief technology officer, Algomi, said: "Growing fintech firms face many barriers to entry when trying to introduce new solutions to large financial institutions. Typically, these are big companies used to dealing with other big companies."

The Radianz Cloud, now in its 15th year of operation, is an established financial services community and BT says it encompasses managed hosting in over 20 data centres globally.

Tom Regent, president, global banking and financial markets, BT Global Services, said: "Our community members are as keen as ever to find new ways to grow, address regulations and drive efficiencies. Our new initiative will create a ready-made market place for fintech innovation bringing together smart start-ups and financial institutions. We will be making further investments in our cloud computing infrastructure to further support this strategy."

According to World Bank statistics, capital flows to Sub-Saharan Africa have escalated and have reached an estimated 5.3% of regional GDP in 2013. This is significantly more than the developing-country average of 3.9%.

Experts in digital finance focused on Africa's fintech ecosystem have noted that data is widely considered to be a sought-after commodity that is critical to a startup and its ability to scale effectively and sustain operations.

BT claims that 183 million people in Africa already own a mobile wallet. "That's three times the users of e-wallets in the U.S. and expanding at three times the annual growth rate of the U.S. And South Africa and Kenya are among the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world. So smartphone based transactions are big business in Africa. This is reflected in the number of fintech companies focused on mobile wallets, banking, digital currency and payments," the company explains.

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