Ecobank Fintech Challenge 2022: Nigeria’s ‘Touch and Pay’ wows the jury with ‘Co-wry App’ and takes home the top prize

Nigeria has taken over the Grand Final of the 2022 Ecobank Fintech Challenge. The Nigerian fintech 'Touch and Pay' won the first prize on 28 October in Lomé (Togo) in front of an audience of experts.

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After ‘Trove Finance’ in 2021, a new Nigerian fintech, ‘Touch and Pay Technologies Limited’ has won the 1st Prize (US$50,000) of the 5th edition of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge, the annual flagship event of the Pan-African Ecobank Group, whose ultimate goal is to encourage African fintechs in their start-up phase. It also aims to celebrate the creativity of Africa’s youth while increasing the collaboration between the African entrepreneurial world and established pan-African organisations such as Ecobank.

The announcement of the results of this international competition which gathered 703 applications from 59 African countries and elsewhere took place at the pan-African headquarters of ETI in the Togolese capital. In the presence of ETI’s Managing Director, Ade Ayeyemi, several senior executives of the banking group and Togo’s Minister Cina Lawson (in charge of the Digital Economy and Digital Transformation), the four-member jury also awarded (out of the six finalists), for this year’s 2022 competition, ‘Moni Africa’ (2nd, also from Nigeria) and ‘Pay-code’ from South Africa.

Cowry App’ (the flagship application of ‘Touch and Pay’), which is also available in the form of a card, ‘Cowry Card’, won over the jurors among the 6 finalists by its ability to digitalise basic mid-transactions in the daily lives of Africans. Its stated ambition is to capture a potential market of 250 million people on an African scale.

According to its promoters, ‘Cowry App’ “is part of a dynamic to provide practical solutions through fintech, and allows to reach African populations at the grassroots in their daily lives”. Co-founder of ‘Touch and Pay’ and in charge of its Growth Division, Michael Oluwole “is delighted with this 2022 award and is proud to be working with Ecobank from now on, and to engage in new professional challenges in Africa through this partnership. “While congratulating the other five finalists who did not lose out in his eyes, he salutes the emulation offered by the grand finale of Ecobank Fintech Challenge.

“Ecobank has a proven passion for financial technology, which is the foundation for accelerating financial and digital inclusion on the continent. It is our renewed pleasure to host fintech innovators every year. The cash prize for the Ecobank Fintech Challenge is deliberately set to support this creative momentum, and is a record amount in this type of competition whose cardinal objective is to help create wealth on the African continent,” Ade Ayeyemi once again congratulated the competition, which was pan-African in its beginnings, and which has now become international.

“Like ETI, Africa must have big dreams! US$50,000 in prize money in a fintech competition is a lot of money. The start-ups that are increasingly being funded on a pan-African scale are intimately linked to fintechs. Digital tools will continue to be the most effective way to include people in African economies in the future. And e-commerce will need more digital payment methods to progress,” Cina Lawson said in welcoming the creation of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge to the African digital ecosystem.

The ability of fintech leaders to provide practical solutions centred around an existing product with a proven customer base on the one hand, and the ability to partner with Ecobank in the future and raise funds on the other, are the key criteria used by the judges to decide on the participants in this annual challenge.

Aiming for excellence through African fintech

From 703 applicants at the beginning, the applications for the Ecobank Fintech Challenge 2022 were reduced to 28, and then to 6, in view of the grand finale on 28 October in Lome.

“Our congratulations go to the winner because the level of this competition in 2022 was particularly high, and finding a winner proved to be a difficult task,” said Aissatou Djiba Diallo (Head of Fintech Strategy at Ecobank) who headed the Organising Committee of the 2022 edition. “We were particularly surprised by the quantity and quality of applications for the Ecobank Fintech Challenge, edition 5. Many of the finalists already have millions of customers through the solutions offered by their fintechs. So, all the 6 finalists are potential great partners for Ecobank, just like the other participants in this Challenge”, added Mrs Diallo.

In view of the success of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge, Dr. Tomisin Fashina (Ecobank Group Managing Director, Operations and Technology) confirmed that the 6th edition of this competition will be held in 2023. In his view, this annual flagship event is a link to the core business of ETI. “Fintechs represent the future of Africa in terms of financing to accelerate digital inclusion. Ecobank promotes digital inclusion and digital solutions through its banking products. A task that cannot be achieved in isolation. Hence the importance of supporting the Ecobank Fintech Challenge to offer practical solutions to the daily lives of Africans. All the innovations proposed through this competition are practical and useful to Ecobank,” Dr Fashina said.

Touch and Pay, like the other five finalists of the 2022 edition of the Challenge, are joining a new cohort of Ecobank Fintech Challenge Fellows. They are the promoters of ‘Cauri Money’ from Senegal, ‘DizzitUp’ from Togo, ‘MaishaPay’ from DR Congo, ‘Moni Africa’ from Nigeria and ‘PayCode’ from South Africa.