For over two decades, CR2 (www.CR2.com) has been at the forefront of digital banking and payments innovation across Africa that continues to generate significant positive societal impact. By several estimates—including The Global Findex Database the continent is home to the largest percentage of the world’s unbanked population, with a sizable number of underbanked SMEs and consumers. Working with over 60 banks in 35 countries (that serve a combined customer base of over 100 million in Africa alone), CR2 is empowering financial institutions to connect Africans in urban and remote areas with digital banking solutions that expand opportunity and improve everyday life. African banks utilize our digital banking platform to create products that connect SMEs with business enabling financial services and consumers to more convenient money transfer options.
The African continent is a diverse environment made up of 1.2 billion people and 54 countries, each with its own cultural and economic nuances. CR2’s knowledge and experience in individual markets ensures that our financial partners can tailor banking solutions and payments technologies that align with local needs and serve a diverse range of constituents— from small merchants to unbanked and underbanked individuals. The end result is greater financial inclusion in Africa for SMEs, consumers and women entrepreneurs. Here are some examples of CR2’s work across the continent.
In 2018, Ethiopia’s Dashen Bank and Addis Ababa based Fintech Moneta Technologies selected CR2’s digital banking platform to launch the Amole digital wallet for Ethiopia—home to Africa’s seventh largest economy and second largest population. Since its launch, Amole has opened up the ability for millions of Ethiopians to conveniently transact a diverse range of payments and services entirely online. These include buying airline tickets from Ethiopian Airlines, making retail and government payments, accessing e-commerce, acquiring concert tickets, utilising taxihailing services, topping up mobile phones, paying children’s school fees and school lunches and settling DSTV bills. Amole also expanded payment and money transfer options to include Person-to-Person (P2P), QR codes and card payments (gifts, prepaid).
Today, Amole is playing a significant role in moving Ethiopia towards a cashless society. Transactional volume on the digital platform has already surpassed retail card transactions and Amole is used as the payment method for over 50% of DSTV payments across the country. Using the power of seamless digital finance, Amole has positively impacted millions in Ethiopia by delivering the safety and convenience to make payments online and on demand, without the need to travel great distances to withdraw or deposit cash or make payments in person.
The digital wallet is also a major driver of financial inclusion in Ethiopia, where only 24% of the population is banked. CR2’s collaboration with Dashen Bank has provided the financial institution the means to offer a larger portion of the East African country’s people with fast and easy access to banking services that were previously not accessible.
Supporting Africa’s robust remittance markets
Tens of millions of Africans live and work outside of their home country, either in other African countries or further afield. The ability to send money home safely and conveniently is essential for these citizens abroad, as they support families in their home countries. This also applies to many who leave rural communities to work in Africa’s large cities and need to send money home regularly, but not at a high cost.
For over twenty years, CR2 has pioneered a money transfer solution, that provides remote workers the ability to easily transfer funds home to family who may not have a bank account or ability to receive payments. The sender simply sends the recipient a PIN that can be used to redeem cash at the nearest ATM. This powerful money transfer service targets the unbanked and underbanked communities and is far cheaper than traditional money transfer services. The service can then be extended to offer the cash recipient the opportunity to open a bank account, supporting financial inclusion mandates and facilitating easy entry to the banking environment. CR2 is operating these services with leading pan-African banks such as Absa and Standard Bank in multiple countries across the continent.
In Ethiopia, Dashen Bank’s Mobile App and Internet Banking solution, powered by CR2, provides Ethiopians living abroad the ability to easily and affordably transfer money back home, without paying prohibitive transfer fees.
CR2’s innovative digital banking solutions are enabling banks to ensure people can stay connected wherever they reside so they can continue to contribute financially in their home community. This valuable service is growing in importance, with economists predicting a steep rise in African remittances, as more Africans seek opportunities in neighbouring countries or further from home within the continent.
Reducing health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic
With a market environment so heavily impacted by COVID-19, banks are further accelerating their branch transformation strategies and facilitating customers’ needs with a richer set of services at self-service terminals.
Offering a richer set of services on digital channels reduces the need to queue in large banking halls, therefore reducing the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus for customers and staff.
CR2 is enabling banks to offer more advanced capabilities at the ATM such as:
- Contactless access at the ATM using NFC and QR codes
- Account opening and onboarding
- Card Issuing
- Digital wallet load and unload
- Instant loan
- Card self-service
- Register for mobile
Driving financial inclusion and sparking change
Fostering greater financial inclusion is at the heart of CR2’s engagement with banks in emerging and developing countries. Increasing access to banking services for unbanked and underbanked is a proven enabler to reducing poverty and boosting prosperity across the continent.
One example of the positive impact CR2’s offerings are having on financial inclusion can be seen through our partnership with Botswana Savings Bank (BSB). The bank is using CR2’s digital solutions to manage government payments, including social welfare payments to citizens in need. This enables thousands of Botswanans to receive government payments into bank accounts every week, saving them the inconvenience (and cost) of frequently travelling vast distances to receive these payments. BSB also uses CR2’s solution for enabling anonymous cash deposits.
As a state-owned bank, Botswana Savings Bank has been mandated to mobilise the nation to save, as well as providing inclusive financial services. BSB’s customer reach has been significantly increased through a partnership agreement with Botswana Post, which allows BSB to offer their banking services through the nationwide network of 120 postal outlets. These new digital channels have allowed Botswana Savings Bank to attract a wider client base and tap into the underbanked population in Botswana, a key driver for financial inclusion across the country.
Financially empowering female entrepreneurs
Creating female-centric financial products and solutions for Africa’s women entrepreneurs is gaining momentum as a core focus for banking and financial services industries on the continent. CR2 is proud to partner with banks that are actively supporting such initiatives.
A growing number of women are entering the fintech space as entrepreneurs and in leadership positions in the industry, supported by proactive steps from leading financial institutions to drive inclusion. The fintech industry has an important role to play in acknowledging and practically addressing issues around female inclusion, so it’s a win-win situation for all. CR2 enables banks in Africa to increase financial inclusion and digital empowerment among women with a banking platform that offers capabilities such as digital onboarding and a range of design tools to develop, launch and promote products and services that serve and engage with the banking needs of women in Africa today.
These products and channel options have had a marked impact on empowering women on the continent, many of whom found themselves excluded from traditional financial services, due to both societal and legal restrictions. Reducing these barriers to entry through digital banking and mobile wallets means these previously financially excluded women no longer have to rely on cash, have the ability to put money aside in savings, and have access to credit to grow their small businesses.
Enabling digital access to greater banking services for SME’s
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are key to Africa’s growth potential, accounting for around 90% of the continent’s businesses. Through CR2’s various digital banking partnerships, these SMEs now have easier access to credit and other banking services via digital channels, giving them the ability to grow and develop their businesses on a secure, managed platform.
This market segment is continually innovating and expanding, and CR2 is at the heart of this, creating products and services that enable this ongoing growth.
Africa continues to be a priority for CR2
For almost 30 years, CR2 has been truly invested in Africa. Looking ahead, CR2 will continually innovate solutions and seek out new partnerships across the continent to empower banks to drive financial growth and inclusion.
Increasing access to banking services unlocks economic potential, while delivering more financial empowerment and convenience to millions of African consumers, entrepreneurs and SMEs. For more information, please
visit www.CR2.com or email info@CR2.com.