Bank Governor Launches 2019 S/Leone Fintech Challenge


By Thomas S. Kembay

The Bank Governor, Prof. Kelfala M. Kallon on Friday 29th March, 2019 official launched this year’s Sierra Leone Fintech Challenge at the Golden Tulip, Aberdeen.

Sierra Leone economy according to Prof. Kallon is dominated by foreign owned Banks that may collectively have more reserve than the momentary authority which is the Bank of Sierra Leone.

The banking tradition of these banks, he said, is to lend on trade and commerce and not consumption activities and that, as such, their business models make it irrational to gather information on potential customers who fall outside their narrow trade and commence corridors.

“Consequently, they see no economic value in bringing majority of Sierra Leoneans who are not traders, importers or exporters into the formal financial sector,” said the Bank Governor.

Prof. Kallon continued that the recent geospatial study conducted by the World Bank and the annual digital financial service provider survey by UNICDF found that Sierra Leoneans face very serious challenges in accessing financial service that can address their many needs including health, education, agriculture to help them save and plan for the future.

“When a nation meager savings are held in sterile asset such as currency, it deprives the economy of fund that could be invested in productivity which negatively impacts on employment leading to high rate of poverty,” he said.

The fact is that there is a large burden in the country financial system architecture that traditional commercial banking and financial intermediation cannot yield if they do not come out of their comfort zones.

Chairman of the ceremony who doubles as the Deputy Bank Governor, Dr. Ibrahim Steven earlier stated that the first Fintech challenge was launched in 2017 and the 2019 launched was the second phase.

The 2019 Fintech challenge with the theme: ‘Domestic Resource Mobilisation,’ he said, is aimed at expending quality of access and usage of financial service through technology based solution.

He recalled that a grant of US$13,000 was awarded to three Fintechs to support customer centric research and US$100,000 awarded to the challenge winner on digital score and leading platform in the 2018 Fintech challenge.

UNCDF Country Adviser, Wyctiffe Ngwabe disclosed that partnership team will receive a US$20,000 design testing grant and 2 partners will each receive US$150,000 investment capital in the 2019 Fintech challenge.