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MBABANE – Mobile Money is synonymous with FinTech hence Eswatini’s 87 per cent financial inclusion has been the result of Mobile Money services.

This is according to the Eswatini FinTech Landscape Report 2023 released last week. It was reported that the ecosystem lacks product diversity across the FinTech verticals and market enablers. Thus, the advancement of products requires FinTech innovations across other verticals like e-commerce, transportation and agriculture. Cross-border person to-person (P2P) payments are an additional opportunity to leverage the emaSwati population repatriating funds. Developing such use cases will provide more desirable network effects. It is worth noting that according to the report, Eswatini’s ecosystem lacks the requisite FinTech talent and talent development (learning) programmes.

To date, FSPs stakeholders have been importing the FinTech solutions and talent to conceptualise, build and maintain the solutions. While the range of FinTech capabilities spans (software) engineering, emerging digital technologies, business and management and regulations, the Eswatini Fintech Working Group EFWG) led by the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) and the Deep Learning Indaba Consortium are addressing technological knowhow.


In 2021, the EFWG hosted a 2-day IndabaX workshop, targeted at applying machine learning techniques to solving problems like financial inclusion. There are few professional development learning centres or programmes available. The nascent Eswatini FinTech ecosystem may be an advantage that serves as a call to developing the market and policy components simultaneously. This would require significant capacity building of the regulators and a market-facing platform for engagements and learning. Specifically to the regulations, the CBE and FSRA should; close the regulatory gaps, develop FinTech-specific and foundational regulations and embrace the tenants of the BFA and Sochi Accord in the development of the ecosystem and related policies.

Eswatini’s FinTech landscape is nascent with the potential to develop a homegrown FinTech ecosystem that innovates and builds solutions for emaSwati and a consumer market that adopts and uses these FinTech innovations. This build phase will also include developing the requisite policies and regulations, the digital infrastructure, startup ecosystem, e-commerce use cases, and other complementary eGovernment services.


Another opportunity open to the Kingdom, which is an offshoot to the build model, is positioning the Kingdom as a regional innovation hub for FinTech entities, putting Eswatini on the map as a startup ecosystem. In addition to the components of the builder mode, this hosting model would also require an employable talent pool and open borders. These approaches, albeit complementary, are strategically diverse and require strengthening different primary drivers. Over time, the build and host models can leverage Eswatini’s trade agreements and provide scale opportunities to serve the region.  

CBE Governor Dr Phil Mnisi said since the establishment of the dedicated FinTech unit at the CBE in 2018, the bank had been at the forefront of monitoring and engaging with FinTech developments both locally and globally. He said through the FinTech office, the bank aimed to understand the risks and opportunities for fostering a vibrant FinTech ecosystem in the country. Dr Mnisi said with the goal of creating an enabling environment for FinTech innovation and inclusion, the bank had launched several initiatives, such as FinTech regulatory sandbox, FinTech innovation competitions as well as spearheaded the formation of the EFWG. “The Working Group has been instrumental in fostering dialogue and collaboration among various stakeholders to advance the local FinTech ecosystem,” said the governor.