One of the continent's largest banks, Ecobank, has launched a competition targeted at FinTech startups. The Ecobank Fintech Challenge 2018 is open to any Afrikan FinTech startup in any of the 54 countries.

The challenge is running for the second year as it aims to give Afrikan startups the chance to promote their FinTech solutions, and to potentially partner with Ecobank in rolling-out their solutions across all the 33 Afrikan markets Ecobank operates in.

“We, at Ecobank, believe that the current winds of change led by technology and innovation will redefine how banks do business, and indeed the relationships people have with their money. We want to be at the forefront of this change, in partnership with Africa’s rising start-ups, and that is why we created the Ecobank Fintech Challenge," said Ade Ayeyemi, Group CEO at Ecobank.

Ecobank has indicated that of all the applicants, 10 finalists will be selected to participate in an Awards and Innovation Fair at the bank's headquarters in Lomé, Togo in July 2018. Once selected, the 10 finalists will pitch to a panel of judges who will then select the top three winners, who will receive cash prizes worth $10,000, $7,000, and $5,000 respectively. Furthermore, the 10 finalists will also be conferred as "Ecobank Fintech Fellows" and will qualify to explore opportunities to partner with Ecobank.

These opportunities include:

  • Multi-national product roll-out: the most commercially viable start-ups can launch their products in Ecobank’s 33 markets across Africa.

  • Service provider partner deals: start-ups with deep capabilities to become pan-African service partners within Ecobank’s ecosystem.

  • Mentoring and networking support: founders will be conferred as Ecobank Innovation Fellows for a year, which grants them access to networking and mentoring from Ecobank’s vast global network of technology leaders, fintech experts, investors and management coaches.

“The maiden 2017 edition of the Challenge proved that Africa has an impressive army of highly capable fintech start-ups. Ecobank is looking forward to another successful competition,” said Eddy Ogbogu, Group Executive for Operations and Technology at Ecobank.

The Ecobank FinTech Challenge is an interesting phenomenom that is emerging in the financial technology space where established financial services companies continue to acquire or partner with emerging Afrikan FinTech startups. This makes sense given how difficult it is to scale FinTech solutions, especially considering the different regulations in different countries, accross Afrika. With established financial services companies already having presence, licenses and the know-how of operating in these different markets, it is only logical that emerging FinTech startups explore collaborating with them.

Ecobank Fintech Challenge was designed in partnership with the advisory firm Konfidants and is supported by several partners across Africa and globally. Applications for the competition will close on 20th May, 2018.