Normalize African founder’s sharing stories of their failures
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Welcome to today’s edition of TC Daily!

In today’s digest: A South African bank collaborates with a Chinese firm to offer contactless payments, Egypt’s fintech frontier lands a Series A investment, and a bold claim about Twitter’s new voice note feature is clarified.

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Merchants who use Speedpoint payment terminals provided by First National Bank, South Africa’s oldest bank, can now accept payments via UnionPay’s “contactless” cards. The bank
has observed “significant growth” in the adoption of contactless payments owing to prevailing safety concerns, according to Thokozani Dlamini, FNB Merchant Services CEO.

UnionPay, a Chinese financial services firm with a presence in 178 countries, accelerated its issuance of contactless cards in April to limit the need for physical touch during payments at points of sale. Ghana, Kenya, Syechelles and Mauritius are some other African countries where the company’s card has been adopted for payments.

For FNB, this represents an expansion of payment options for merchants and buyers. For UnionPay, it gives it a deeper access into the South African finance market, following up on its existing products like the Good Hope card created by the Johannesburg branch of the Bank of China for South African non-residents that often travel between China and Africa.

Before banks and any formal financial institutions existed, families and friends in many parts of the world devised different pooling arrangements to save and access credit. Some of those arrangements took the form of rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), which have largely been informal and prone to membership defaults due to little protections for contributors.

MoneyFellows, an Egyptian startup, began building a solution that can be accessed on a smartphone in 2016. They have now closed a $4 million Series A round with the backing of Partech Africa and Cairo-based Sawari Ventures. The startup says it has over 150,000 active users so far and plans to expand into other African countries while launching new products.


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Twitter users are having some fun with the voice note feature designed for nuance in public discourse. But it may not appear to be an exciting innovation, especially if you feel you built an almost identical product six years ago.

Tomi Walker, a Nigerian developer, believes he prototyped a full social media network based on 9-second-long voice notes in 2014 and is here to tell the story about why it failed to take off. Contrary to the sense conveyed by the bold, if bogus, headline Twitter shipped a voice feature that a Nigerian invented,” Walker puts the blame on bad timing, poor distribution and next to demand at the time.

Fair points for frank admission and long may we see more Africans in tech openly and humbly describe their failures in detail, hopefully accompanied by later success stories.


Applications are open for the Inclusive Fintech 50 challenge which invites entries from early-stage fintechs creating solutions for financial inclusion. The competition’s panel aims to identify 50 startups in emerging markets working in areas such as credit, insurance, payments & remittances, savings & personal financial management, or infrastructure. The investors circle includes Accion Venture Lab, Quona Capital and the International Finance Corporation. Apply here.


Founders in emerging markets like Nigeria need frictionless access to capital, and investors need better ways to identify opportunities. Join Endeavor for a session on Funding The Future: The Case for Investing in African Startups. Register today!

That’s all for today,

See you tomorrow.
– Alexander

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