Key insights from various experts are summarized below:
Legal and Regulatory Evolution: Zambia has updated its laws and regulations to facilitate fintech growth. The Electronic Communications Transactions Act and the National Payment Systems Act are pivotal, with recent updates including the Data Protections Act and the Cyber Security Act. However, challenges remain in lengthy registration processes for fintech companies.
Infrastructure and Engagement: The development of real-time payment systems and an engaged regulator (Bank of Zambia) are foundational to fintech growth. Digital identity and the integration of AI tools for validation and verification are seen as critical next steps.
Expanding Opportunities: There is a push for connecting Zambian currency to global investment opportunities and digitizing intra-Africa trade. Open banking is viewed as a key enabler for inviting more players and investments into Zambia.
Mobile Money and Financial Inclusion: The rapid growth of mobile money is accelerating digital transformation. There’s a call for more innovation, particularly in AI and machine learning, to further financial inclusion.
Professional and Regulatory Oversight: The ICT Association of Zambia emphasizes the need for professionalism and integrity in digital innovations. Collaborative activities with various stakeholders are crucial for fostering a conducive environment for fintechs.
Mastercard’s Perspective: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new payment methods. Emphasizing the need for embracing open banking and AI technologies, with a focus on security, is seen as vital for expanding digital financial services.
Bank of Zambia’s Role: As the regulator, the Bank of Zambia plays a critical role in licensing and overseeing fintech companies. It emphasizes the importance of compliance and adherence to regulatory standards.
Regulatory Framework and Innovation: There’s a call for regulatory frameworks to adapt to the digital age, facilitating innovation while ensuring legal compliance.
AI and Job Transformation: Concerns about AI replacing jobs are acknowledged, with a suggestion that embracing AI can lead to working alongside it rather than being displaced by it.
Challenges and Opportunities: Panelists discussed the need to reduce the cost and time for fintech registration and licensing to attract more investment. The high interest in Zambia as a fintech hub was emphasized, along with the importance of making it easier for businesses to operate in the country.
In conclusion, while significant progress has been made in Zambia’s digital transformation, there’s a collective push for further innovations, regulatory adaptability, and increased investment to fully harness the potential of fintech in the region.