FinTech has been growing steadily and is predicted to grow more rapidly in the future, particularly in Africa. This has led to the Mauritius Africa Fintech Hub (MAFH) aiming to place Mauritius as a hub for all local, pan-African and international businesses to generate and reinforce collaborations between fintech companies, corporates and investors.
MAFH, a public-private initiative, was launched in December 2019 and is supported by the regulatory authorities, financial service providers and the Government of Mauritius, all working towards collaborating to build cutting-edge solutions for the emerging African market. MAFH creates a route for global FinTech companies and financial service providers to reach the African market, and enables African FinTech ventures to conduct business across borders.
Fintech has always been looked upon as a means to bring credit worthiness to the underbanked and unbanked people, where the issue was regulation, but then Mauritius' regulatory approach is promising.
Mauritius' Financial Service Commission (FSC), is the integrated regulator for non-banking financial services and global businesses and it has been very clear in its full support for any fintech-related initiative in Mauritius. Following this, there has been a lot of regulatory developments which are recognizing the country as a fintech hub embracing blockchain and other disruptive technology. Rather than regulators buckling under pressure with the effects of innovative solutions, the government has recognized the opportunities the digital revolution offers like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and fintech, for smaller economies like Mauritius, to increase private investment and employment.
Mauritius, thus, is the only African country to see the potential of digitization. Among all the other countries, Africa also comes out as a winner for ease of doing business and good governance topping The Economist intelligence unit's Democracy Index, in 2019.
Mauritius is the only international financial services centre with a membership in all the major African regional organizations. Being on the outskirts of the continent, the country’s unique relationship with Africa, places it as a primary stakeholder in Africa’s fintech industry. Mauritius is an important portal and source of investment for low-income countries and its heritage serving as a gateway into Africa, positions it seamlessly to promote investment in the fintech space. Mauritius also directs most of its outward foreign direct investments to African countries, as well as some Asian countries. Mauritius is leading by example and promoting investments across Africa. Hence, it is playing a major role in motivating other African regions to develop their fintech prowess and find their place on the global map.
MAFH believes in collaborations to achieve pioneering solutions for financial inclusion in the evolving African market. Its aim is to create a Pan-African FinTech ecosystem, with key stakeholders collaborating to build a successful Fintech hub which will attract and retain talents and investments in Africa. Currently, with partnerships, and bilateral investment agreements between the government of Mauritius and some African states, MAFH is focusing on developing processes to increase cross-border FinTech education, business integration and growth, to make sure that each local ecosystem integrates into the wider pan-African ecosystem smoothly, to benefit all the stakeholders. Africa is already experiencing the implementation of fintech innovations which are resolving real challenges of day to day life.
Mauritius has opened its doors to change and innovation in this space, and this receptiveness on its part is the primary factor in determining a country’s ability to become the next fintech hub. The Mauritian government’s budget is also focusing on promoting fintech services in its pursuit to becoming the leading fintech hub in Africa.
Mauritius is all set to host the Africa FinTech Festival (AFF) 2020 in May, with an expected number of 2,000 delegates. This annual conference is a meeting of representatives across Africa – ranging from Fintechs, investors, banks, to regulators and policy makers and highlights new ideas and innovations. MAFH strategically applied to host the AFF 2020 to support and trigger the growth of a pan-African FinTech ecosystem, with the intent to increase outreach and promote international associations.
Hosting this event will also reinforce MAFH’s purpose of positioning Mauritius as the FinTech Hub for Africa while creating awareness about Mauritius as a welcoming nucleus for African FinTech collaboration. Delegates while experiencing the location, will also get to know about the Mauritian African FinTech start-ups and the positive business environment in Mauritius.
Finally, in leveraging the potential of the unbanked and establishing itself as the fintech hub of Africa, there are undoubtedly challenges that are associated with disruptive technology. But Mauritius is moving ahead in the right direction with its vision of placing itself as a first mover and an ideal partner for the African continent’s fintech evolution. For any entrepreneur, this provides enough confidence and goodwill to consider Mauritius as a favourable option.