Mental Model Monday: Two Systems of Thought

I’m reading Homo Deus right now and the third section has started. In it, Y.K. Harrari begins by analyzing the two systems of thought that humans make decisions by. He calls these the experience side, and the narrative side. The experience side is what makes decisions instantly, the part of you that gorges on ice cream, or skips the gym, or instantly assumes an increase in probability of 0% to 10% is better than 45% to 55%. The narrative side is what makes decisions for you in the long term. It’s the logical part that decides studying finance is better than art in the long term, or that dieting and exercising for the next 6 months is going to result in a better you. It’s […]

Mental Model Monday: Tradeoffs

I have a feeling people talk about tradeoffs with a bit too much confidence, as if they understood how easy it is to make a tradeoff.  I feel this because I think I am one of those people.  I talk about tradeoffs all the time; tradeoffs we need to make in our business, in my wedding plans, and on weekends.  The amount of times I mention them, you’d think I had a keen appreciation about how tradeoffs are made.  I don’t. The problem I mostly make with tradeoffs is that I assign them as a negative but mandatory result of something that has already happened. They are lumped together as an ongoing stream of negatives for some decision or change previously made.  The reality is […]

Universal Identity in India

An article came out today on Buzzfeed about the Aadhar ID system in India.  I’ve been following Aadhar’s development for some time, and am happy to see some skepticism come out around it.  There’s no doubt the system, which aims to register every Indian person onto a centralized government database, is noble in its intentions.  The government realizes that by registering everyone it can better provide for its citizens.  It will forecast more accurately, reduce waste, and keep a closer eye on nefarious people.  But there’s also the concern that this is a massive government sponsored surveillance scheme, which is likely to be hacked at some time. As someone who works in fintech, and knows firsthand the benefits of having a record of identity on someone, I do […]

Quarter 1 Fintech Round-up

One of our staff writes a quarterly round up of the mobile money scene. I thought I’d share it with you this quarter. Always interesting times in this sector…   Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)   An evident push for industry consolidation across continents saw potential changes in the Ghanian, Indian and Senegalese MNO landscapes. Bharti Airtel (Airtel Ghana) entered an agreement to merge with Millicom International (Tigo Ghana) aiming to displace Ghana’s second-largest market player, Vodafone. In Senegal, we saw Wari make a US$129mn bid for Millicom’s Tigo Senegal; responding to industry rumours of Orange’s initial market interest nine-months prior.   Shifting continents, Airtel India’s acquisition of Telenor was green-lit, providing seamless customer and network integration, while simultaneously strengthening Airtel India’s market-leading position. On the […]

Interview with Greta Bull from the World Bank

Here’s a brief interview on mobile finance in East Africa by Greta Bull, from Mastercard. It’s a good synopsis of Tanzania, the market that I’ve spent most of my time in, and the characteristics there that led to interoperability. Interoperability has allowed the different MNOs to send money to each other. Before, it was as if you couldn’t transfer from your bank to another bank if they weren’t the same company. Surprisingly, that’s still the standard across most of Africa. With the help of the World Bank and other companies, I think other countries will come on board. They are on the wrong side mobile finance history. Here is the article

Cape Town Start Up City

I moved to Cape Town in June of 2015, and settled here in October of the same year.  I joined a start-up called Jumo, which was working on delivering mobile loans to phones in a couple countries.  Fast forward one and a half years, and we are in seven countries and I have launched the first marketplace for financial services in Africa.  A lot has happened, and a lot is still to come.  I do credit a lot of Jumo’s, and my, success to its location in Cape Town.  This is a beautiful city, full of creative people, and plenty of great infrastructure.  It’s a place that smart people would want to work.  That shows itself in the many great companies that are being set […]

Mental Model Monday: Important? Knowable?

I often rush into things.  Work shows up on my desk or I read an article and I think its the next big thing or risk for my team.  I spend time picking at the tip of it, before reaching the conclusion that this is either not important, or too technical for me.   This results in wasted time, misplaced hope, and worst of all wasted time for the team. Especially today, when there are eye catching titles and what seems like a million important things to do at once, pausing and asking oneself about the importance of that thing is key in any decision.  A co-founder I know asks “Will this be important in 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months and 3 years.”  That […]

Kenya Telco Stats 2016

Here’s a summary from the Communications Authority of Kenya on sector performance and trends on the key segments of mobile telephony and electronic transactions for the financial year 2016/2017 (July – September):   Mobile Telephone Subscriptions: 38.5M subscribers, down from 39.7M. A decline of 3.0% from the last quarter. This was as a result of revision of mobile subscription data by Telkom Kenya.   New Subscriptions: Dropped 1.1M, during the quarter under review, compared to an increase of 1.4M subscriptions recorded during the previous quarter.   Mobile Money Transfer Subscriptions: 31.0M subscriptions, up from 26.3M. A 17.9% growth from the last quarter.   Mobile Money Agents: 169,698, up from 158,727. A 6.91% growth during the quarter.   MNO MARKET SHARE   Airtel: 17.5% – up from 16.6% reported in the previous quarter.   Safaricom: 69.0% – up from 65.2% reported from […]

Mental Model Monday: AutoCatalysis (Delayed Again!)

I quite like this model.  Autocatalysis is a model from chemistry, which occurs when a reaction speeds up on its own.  Essentially one reaction creates another, which creates another, so on and so forth until at some point it tapers out.  In business, it’s wonderful when this happens.  You get a huge boost in your business, which carries on for some time.  All of a sudden you have A, which is now creating B, so you get A + B + C until it tapers out.  Charles Munger talks about a good example of Autocatalysis in regards to our favorite company with a mouse. <blockquote> Disney is an amazing example of autocatalysis… They had all those movies in the can.  They owned the copyright.  And just as Coke could prosper when refrigeration came, […]

Data Privacy and Why I Sometimes Get Mad at Donors

I read many articles out there on how mobile finance startups are abusing people’s data and people need to be careful of the startups that are offering mobile finance products.  I think this attitude is generally bad for the people it seeks to protect.  It’s a lot of developed market thinking in emerging market realities.  In the United States, the internet is almost available to everyone, and people created profiles on the internet in detail. We’re seeing a backlash against that in the form of people demanding greater transparency from their governments and the big companies that own most of the data.  In Africa, the internet hasn’t really extended to everyone, and even when it does, it will most likely be in a form dominated […]