Fintech News Digest: The Problem of Surveillance in Africa’s Biggest Fintech Hubs

Fintech News Digest: The Problem of Surveillance in Africa’s Biggest Fintech Hubs

A new study has found that governments in six African countries have been spying on citizens through the use of technology (The Conversation).

Governments in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan have been surveilling citizens, either through legal loopholes or illegally. This is according to a research paper by Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

These governments were closely watching political opponents, business rivals and peaceful activists. Meanwhile, the mass surveillance of citizens was also taking place, the report suggests.

“Governments are purposefully using laws that lack clarity. Or they ignore laws completely in order to carry out illegal digital surveillance of their citizens,” according to one of the authors of the report.

Beyond the aspect of legality, the states have also been tapping into surveillance technologies, it added. These included the use of AI-based internet and mobile surveillance, spyware, biometric digital ID, facial recognition and vehicle licence plate recognition.

Our take: The fintech industry relies heavily on personal data, including personal IDs, banking and payments data, and device data. Privacy considerations, therefore, are especially sensitive to this industry.

That being said, tech companies on the whole have a bad rep for their handling of privacy and personal data protection. It thus falls on the state and regulators to put the right laws in place, and also lead by example. In this context, this kind of abuse of power sets an alarming precedent for fintech companies, and the tech industry overall.

MEA Fintech News Highlights

Regional fintech news

MSME lending startup Asante raised US$7.5 million in a Series A tranche (Fintech News Africa).



Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala invests in Chicago-based multi-issuer technology platform Halo’s US$100 million Series C (Fintech News Middle East).

Exinity launches two new trading and investment solutions, Exinity Trader and Exinity World, in the UAE (IBS Intelligence).

Mashreq launched an API developer portal in the UAE (Trade Arabia).

Policybazaar UAE and Al Etihad Credit Bureau will run real-time credit score eligibility checks for credit card applications based on approval criteria from banks (The National).

UAE-based Fintech Galaxy picked up US$2 million in a seed round (Fintech News Middle East).

CoinMENA to build a crypto and blockchain hub with Dubai World Trade Centre Free Zone (Mubasher).

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) launched the fifth batch of its fintech experimental permit (CMA announcement).

South Africa

south africa

South Africa’s Peach Payments launched its Mauritius operations (Disrupt Africa).


Malawi-based mobile money service provider TNM Mpamba launched a MasterCard debit card that can be used by unbanked customers as well (TechMetro Africa).


Ghana is considering trialling the viability of offline payments through its central bank digital currency (CBDC) eCedi (CoinGeek).


Consumer financing app Tala secured US$145 million in a Series E for its emerging market operations, including Kenya (Fintech News Africa).



Nigeria’s agent network-based fintech company Baxi acquired by African payments company MFS Africa (Disrupt Africa).

Nigerian digital bank for SMEs Brass raised US$1.7 million in funding (Tech City).

Recommended Reading

“For banks to stay in business, the starting point is not just digital transformation, but how it is used to address customer needs, panelists also discussed. For instance, Klimes noted that often customers don’t have an issue with the use of their data by banks, but that the data was being used to upsell, rather than make banking smarter for them…” Is it over for branch banking? Find out here.

“The Nigerian government, if committed to the eNaira project, has a number of heavy weapons in its arsenal that can drive universal usage of the eNaira. These range from paying public sector salaries into eNaira wallets, paying contractors through their eNaira wallets and a whole host of other directives. Fintechs and other observers should have a healthy respect of the eNaira…” This in-depth explainer on the eNaira (Frontier Fintech) tells you all you need to know about Nigeria’s CBDC.

That wraps up this week’s fintech news digest. Subscribe to our Middle East and Africa newsletters to continue receiving the top MEA fintech news in your inbox.

This article was originally published on Fintech News Africa.

Featured image: edited from Unsplash

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