Craft Silicon is at the forefront of a financial inclusion revolution in Africa, leveraging technology to bring banking and financial services to unbanked and underserved populations. #40Days40FinTechs #LevelOneProject Season 4 Day 40
Written by Ntulume Nicholas on June 16, 2023
With an impressive 23-year legacy, Craft Silicon stands as one of the most enduring and influential FinTech companies, boasting a clientele spanning over 30 nations across Africa and Asia. Their broad spectrum of services has demonstrated profound versatility, encompassing domains from microfinance to commercial banking, Islamic banking, digital banking platforms, anti-money laundering solutions, micro-lending, and most recently, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ platforms. Over the past two decades, Craft Silicon has manifested an exhaustive range of capabilities, asserting its prominence in the financial technology landscape. Dhimant Shah, Chief Executive Officer at Craft Silicon, asserts that their comprehensive and extensive experience positions them within the upper echelon of organizations instrumental in propelling financial inclusion worldwide. “We started with our core banking solutions for microfinance which is something we excel at and are probably the number one microfinance core banking provider in the world,” he asserts. In addition to its foundational services, Craft Silicon offers an extensive digital suite encompassing mobile banking platforms, retail and corporate Internet banking solutions, along with an array of payment platforms. This breadth of service offerings has rightfully earned them a spot amongst the top 50 fastest-expanding FinTechs in Africa. Shah notes that it is this experience that has seen them work with more than 250 financial institutions across the world, serving about 89 million end users. “At Craft Silicon, our reach extends beyond banks and financial institutions. We’ve recently established a division specifically to collaborate with governments, delivering essential revenue collection services. With this strategic move, we aim to broaden our impact and touch the lives of millions more through these interactions,” he says. To put it into perspective, Craft Silicon processed about USD 7.5 billion worth of transactions in 2022. “Our estimation at the end of this year we will be about USD13 billion worth of transactions processed by our systems,” he noted. Thriving amid tough times Craft Silicon is the 40th participant in this year’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative. Now in its impressive fourth season, this initiative, orchestrated by HiPipo, is designed to spotlight groundbreaking innovations that are instrumental in facilitating the integration of underserved populations into the digital economy. The initiative is proudly conducted in collaboration with renowned partners such as the Level One Project, the Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, and Crosslake Technologies, with generous backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Shah says that FinTech in Africa is laced with opportunities, especially at a time when there is emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning. “So, how do we harness this technology for the end consumers? How can they take advantage of the platforms that we provide? We are certainly excelling in that area of artificial intelligence; some of the products benefit immensely from artificial intelligence. It is not just about providing the rules,” he says. In the pursuit of providing fair credit to consumers, Shah notes that artificial intelligence would be very helpful because it can check many money data checkpoints simultaneously and contribute towards a fair score for the consumer. Furthermore, with its significant presence throughout Africa, Craft Silicon operates as a leading figure within the FinTech industry. Nonetheless, despite their esteemed position, they still encounter operational challenges on occasion. First, Shah identifies cyber security threats as a primary challenge that they have learned to mitigate by employing certified ethical hackers as well as security professionals. “There are also regulatory challenges across the countries that we work with. The regulatory framework keeps changing and we have to keep up with it,” he says. He however encourages African innovators to identify unique African problems and come up with specific solutions. “We don’t have to always copy everything that the West does. How do we move with our own solutions to address the unique problems of Africans? We don’t always need to copy because there are areas where we excel in these technologies like our mobile money systems of M-Pesa,” he says. In a similar vein, Shah applauds the organisers of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative for creating awareness among African FinTechs and end-users. “People get to know what technologies are available, who are the people behind them, and their philosophies. This is not just a flash of knowledge that perhaps Craft Silicon is doing this but who are the people at Craft Silicon? What are their motives or philosophies? Why are they doing the things that they do?” he said. Innocent Kawooya, CEO of HiPipo, posits that the involvement of well-established FinTechs like Craft Silicon in the industry serves as a potent catalyst for inspiring nascent startups. “Craft Silicon has exhibited remarkable resilience and adaptability. By offering a rich insight into the sector’s evolution and sharing how they’ve continually adapted to remain pertinent, we trust that emerging FinTechs can derive inspiration. We commend Craft Silicon for their unwavering commitment to hastening financial inclusion across Africa,” Kawooya noted.