In 2018, FiDA Partnership conducted light touch research to unpack platform business models, looking at how they are evolving in terms of financial services. Desk research synthesized information about the business model for more than 40 platform businesses active in Africa, with a few global players included for comparison. For a select number of these, we captured additional details about the platform participants’ economics (e.g. workers, merchants, etc.). Interviews with several key African digital platforms supplemented this information with insights and details around the challenges and obstacles that African digital platforms face, particularly in partnering with financial institutions and FinTechs to directly integrate financial services offerings into their business models. We also interviewed a few other ecosystem players to add perspectives from financial services partners and investors.
Our research findings include:
- Digital platforms are important partners offering new opportunities for innovative African banks to grow! To capitalize on the opportunity, banks and other FSPs will need to think creatively about how they can develop new products or modify existing ones so that that are fit for the digital platform era.
- eCommerce platforms need to address financial exclusion and “lack of trust” in online transactions to grow
- “Reimagining informality” means standardizing data streams and unlocking opportunities for lending and insurance.
The learning blog series then goes deeper on platform business models and each module can be read in any order:
- The first module focuses on three important ways that platforms are changing the landscape for financial inclusion. While we explore several African platform business models, we highlight how business tactics and partnership strategies promote financial inclusion.
- The second module discusses why African platforms are adding financial services to their business models.
- The third module highlights several important challenges that digital platform businesses face when trying to integrate financial services into their business models. These issues were uncovered during interviews FiDA conducted with six platform organizations and two ecosystem players active in sub-Saharan Africa.
- The fourth module identifies considerations for improving several business practices that could be problematic for inclusion. As we explored platform business models, we found examples of practices that we hypothesize could be problematic for the financially excluded. In this module we highlight three problems and make suggestions for organizations to consider and point to areas for researchers to explore more deeply.
Compare platform participants’ economics for workers and merchants across several platforms like Amazon, Jumia and Upwork.
Interested in conducting similar analysis or seeing additional examples? Check this Transactional Platforms Business Model Analysis Guide, which contains a walkthrough of FiDA’s Platformization Lens framework and profiles for the 40 platforms analyzed as well as case studies applying the lens to Upwork and Uber.