FinTech firm TagPay was an early believer in the rise of mobile banking in Africa. Together with Societe Generale, a longstanding client and partner, they developed an open and adaptable platform that made banking services accessible to populations excluded from conventional networks.
After working in the e-banking world, I founded TagPay about 10 years ago with a partner from the telecommunications industry. We had the intuition, well before the proliferation of smartphones, that mobile telephony would be a groundbreaking technology capable of transforming the banking world. Starting from a very technological angle that initially focused on meeting the essential security needs of making a transaction, we gradually developed a comprehensive system for digital mobile banking. Today, TagPay employs around 20 people and provides its banking sector clients with a virtual platform using cloud technology to offer a wide range of services, from money transfers to contactless payments and bill payments. Societe Generale was our first major client, and recently became a partner by acquiring a stake in TagPay. By being one of the first to have confidence in our technology, Societe Generale brought us essential credibility during our early growth. For a structure such as ours to exist and grow, it needs to be supported by established players that have the foresight, the energy and the openness to understand and embrace our innovations. Our partnership with Societe Generale demonstrated that our idea could meet the performance requirements of such a large group. It was a decisive moment for us.
Africa: a giant innovation laboratory
Our collaboration with Societe Generale is primarily linked to Africa, which is a giant innovation laboratory for digital mobile banking. Africa was where the TagPay adventure took off. The vast majority of the continent’s population has a mobile phone, but no bank account. We were able to bypass the established technology of countries already well served by banks and offer direct access to the bank of the future, based on state-of-the-art technology that operates in real time, is simple to use and is completely secure. Societe Generale, which has a large presence on the African continent, perfectly understood this fundamental change. We joined them with the deployment of the first mobile banking services offered by their Manko subsidiary in Senegal, and are supporting them today with the launch of YUP, which marks a new stage in their Pan-African digital banking strategy. Mobile technology offers the opportunity to reach huge numbers of people who, until now, had been excluded from conventional banking networks.
Technology gives way to services
Yesterday’s world, with its cumbersome and complex systems, was dominated by infrastructure and processes. In the open world of mobile technology, where considerably less cost and time is needed to develop systems, technology is giving way to the core of the banking business, namely services. The tool that we’re developing for and with the bank is totally adaptable. Based on a single platform, teams will be able to develop new features in the future that will generate new sources of revenue and new business models. With this open architecture, it is essential to be able to interact with local ecosystems. That is what Societe Generale is currently doing in Africa by teaming up with the network of retailers who will distribute their mobile banking services. Basically, it’s not the bank which is adapting to technology, but the opposite, and the opportunities are immense.
Societe Generale was open-minded enough to accept a solution that didn’t originate internally, with all of the effort this implied in terms of integrating the solution with the highly structured and regulated framework of a major bank. They agreed to let go of some established ways of doing things. As for us, they helped us improve security by bringing us up their standards. Today, we all benefit from our mutual efforts, helping us to understand and move forward with the same goal. We made it through the most difficult part, which was the decision-making phase. We’re currently in the deployment phase, and we now understand how to innovate together.