Financial innovation continues despite Libya's strife.
When government falls, people still need to buy groceries. Despite the chaos in Libya and Somalia, lots of people still have their mobile phones. That has opened a window for fintech upstarts to gain market share.
Tripoli-based MIZA Financial Services is one of a handful of financial institutions offering mobile wallets in Libya. “We started from a market that is very fragile,” says Mohamed Wefati, executive chairman, during a recent conference in Jordan organized by the World Economic Forum. With the help of the Libyan Central Bank, Wefati says, MIZA, founded in 2017, managed to enroll 300,000 consumers and 1,500 merchants in its fintech solution. Mainstream banks are beginning to offer similar services.
Mobile wallets are viable even in Somalia, which “doesn’t have a banking system,” says Stefan Nalletamby, director of the Financial Sector Development Department at the African Development Bank. On a recent visit there, Nalletamby bought bottle of water from a woman selling them on the street, using an electronic payment. “It is much safer” than cash, he says.