Financial technology innovations have key drivers of economic growth in Africa and Rwanda specifically, with digital transactions as a percentage of GDP rising to the current 135 per cent from 0.3 per cent in 2011. ALSO READ: Embracing inclusive fintech: Propelling Rwanda and Africa towards a thriving future This is according to John Rwangombwa, Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), while he was speaking at a press conference on the “Future of Global Fintech”, on January 18, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024. When it comes to financial inclusion that required deliberate government approaches, the country rose from having only 21 per cent of population formally accessing financial services in 2008 to 77 per cent in 2020, mainly driven by digital services that contributed to about 66 per cent. For context, access to loans, which means capital for investment in different economic activities as well as for personal use, is mostly enabled by digital channels at more than 70 per cent, he added. “One of the key things that come with fintech is convenience in the sense of carrying out financial transactions remotely...and it also helps to remove the perception of the risk on different sectors, like a building credit history for SMEs, hence, enabling them to mobilise financing.” ALSO READ: What should Africa’s Fintech ecosystem do better? Rwangombwa also mentioned different digital innovations that are boosting financial inclusion and the country’s growth, such as digital pension contribution channels and mobile money merchant codes, among others. Drew Propson, Head of Technology and Innovation in Financial Services, World Economic Forum, said the goal is for financial services to be provided seamlessly in times of need. While many countries have an enabling regulator environment, Propson added that compliance registration and the cost associated with it remain a hindrance to the growth of fintechs in different economies. However, she noted that a fintech survey conducted by WEF showed that Sub-Saharan Africa was ahead in terms of creating a regulatory framework that facilitated the growth of fintechs by 66 percent. Rwanda is positioning itself to be a fintech hub in the broader context of the Kigali International Financial Center’s mission to transform Kigali into a regional financial hub capable of attracting foreign investments as well as encouraging the creation of highly skilled jobs in the sector. The country adopted a five-year fintech strategy (2022–2027) of systematically and holistically supporting the fintech ecosystem in the country by being a testing ground and launchpad of fintech to test and expand their ideas in Rwanda. There are 75 fintechs currently operating in Rwanda, with a majority operating in payments, clearing and settlement providers, deposit lending, insurance, savings, capital raising, and crypto assets sub-sectors. The strategy aims to move Rwanda from its current position of 61st globally and 5th on the continent to the top 30 globally and 1st in Africa, by 2027.