Africa is a continent increasingly connected with the rest of the world. It holds bucket loads of potential for many industries, including iGaming, because of its unique position in the global market being driven by modern financial technology.
The iGaming industry began in the mid-1990s when some bright minds came up with the idea of merging secure online payment platforms with the popularity of casino games. It took off well across the globe, except in Africa, where a lack of widespread internet infrastructure and out-of-date regulation held the industry back.
Africa also has the youngest population on Earth, with an estimated 60% of people on the continent below the age of 25, and it is the only region on the globe where the population is getting younger over time. It is filled with unique places and people, and it has become clear that what worked in Europe and America won’t necessarily be as successful in Africa, which is another reason why iGaming did not take off as quickly as other regions.
However, that is all changing very fast with the wide adoption of smartphones and access to the internet via mobile data solutions opening up virtually the entire continent to global markets. This has also had a significant impact on banking and fintech on the continent.
Even after the vast proliferation of mobile phones, Africa has the largest unbanked population in the world, with many people being distrustful of large foreign banking institutions preferring to keep their money safe in a more physical manner, such as a safe. More than a lack of trust was just a lack of access, and fintech has taken off in Africa in that regard.
Countries across the continent are not just very good at online and mobile banking; they are pioneers, and the iGaming industry is adapting and evolving along with fintech in Africa. For example, many online casinos in South Africa adapt to the market’s needs and accommodate their players by accepting funds from e-wallets, mobile bank transfers, and sometimes even cryptocurrency.
Digital currency and the blockchains that drive them are another element of fintech that could have a revolutionary effect on Africa for the same reason as mobile phones: ease of access. Because blockchains are decentralized from any major banking institutions or corporations and contain a permanent and unchangeable record of transactions, they will not suffer from the abovementioned distrust.
This has enormous potential for the iGaming industry too, because the most important thing is the safety and security of the players and the money they use on the platform. Cryptocurrencies and adapting an iGaming platform to accept them as currency are relatively cheap undertakings when you consider just how safe and secure they are.
The future of financial services, and by extension that of the iGaming industry, in Africa is not set in stone. It relies heavily on stakeholders making the most of this potential; the current trajectory is incredibly positive.
While not necessarily related to fintech, another big feather in the cap of many African countries is how regulators appear to be softening their stance on iGaming. Again, using South Africa as an example attempts to restrict online gambling have softened, but some politicians at the provincial level have even called for less restrictive regulation.
“Honestly? I was quite frankly blown away by the desire, the appetite, and the maturity and level of understanding exhibited by so-called ‘new’ or developing regulators, and was reminded that lack of experience does not necessarily mean lack of knowledge,” confirmed Christina Thakor-Rankin, principal consultant at 1710 Gaming.
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