Finance Indaba 2016: Champions of financial inclusion


"We understand the world of fintech through our mobile expertise and having launched a financial services product in a regulated environment," says Ahmed Cassim, Chief Commercial Officer of Hello Group, a gold partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

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With the event around the corner, we will be chatting to all the Indaba partners, asking them why they are joining the event and what their most important message for finance professionals is.

Do you want to hear how Hello Group is uplifting marginalised communities across South Africa? Do you want to be informed about the latest and greatest in finance? Then don't miss the Finance Indaba Africa 2016.

Why will you be present at the Finance Indaba?
"At the Hello Group, we've been paying attention to the global fintech environment for the past three years. We come from a mobile background having run a mobile virtual network operator called Hello Mobile. Three years ago, we came up with a plan to launch an international remittance system. We approached the South African Reserve Bank and subsequently received clearance, It has been very successful. We understand the world of fintech through our mobile expertise and having launched a financial services product in a regulated environment. We hope the Finance Indaba will attract the attention of the big local players to what we are doing and we also want to see what others are doing and if there are any opportunities for partnerships and collaborations."

What will you be talking about?
"I'm going to be talking about our journey to driving down the cost of remittance through using tech and mobile platforms."

What challenges can you help finance professionals and firms with in 2016?
"Financial inclusion is at the core. The reality is that we've been servicing the migrant communities in South Africa for the past 10 and a half years. We understand them, we know how to speak to them and we know how to reach them. We know how to market to them and what their mindsets are when it comes to user experience and product offering. It is sad, but the big banks have decided to exclude these hard-working, enterprising individuals and we are working within the confines of the existing regulations to try to launch financial services products for our customers and bring them into the formal economy by including them in the banking stream."

What challenges do you face operating in emerging markets?
"At the highest macro level, it is about regulation. The regulations in South Africa relating to conventional banking, financial services and deposit-taking, stipulate that only a registered bank can accept deposits and offer transactional accounts and saving products to consumers. This poses a challenge to us because we have all the abilities outside of these regulations. We know how to host accounts, process transactions and about Fica, devising customer offerings and gaining new clients, but we are being forced to partner with banks, which raises costs creates third party dependencies. With Hello Paisa, we have a bank-type product - we understand compliance, flow of funds, security of platforms, treating customers fairly. We can very easily replicate this in the mainstream-banking world, but we have to partner with banks."

Tell us about your media division.
"The Hello Media division is a platform for migrants to share their community news and stories and to keep informed of developments. There are certain country-specific publications, but no-one was targeting migrant communities. We saw an opportunity for a channel through which our customers could engage and communicate."

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