Rise in African ‘fintech’ technologies driving demand for skilled contractors
Fintech start-ups in Africa expected to create majority of contractor positions over the next 12 months.
Africa’s growing technology community, coupled with the rise of its financial services sector, are expected to create a surge in demand for specialist ‘fintech’ contractors, according to professional services consultancy, Procorre. Procorre, which manages the life cycle of finance and technology projects around the world, is already seeing a significant increase in requests for app developers, data analysts and ‘mobile wallet’ framework developers to help the fintech market grow. Wiktor Podgorski, head of the relationship management team at Procorre, said: “Currently, only around 20 per cent of people in Africa have a bank account, meaning people carry around large amounts of cash or store it in their homes. In contrast, around 80 per cent of people have a mobile phone, so there’s a clear argument for developing technologies that will give people digital access to their money.
“As more and more African countries realise the potential of fintech as a way of safeguarding the future of their economies, investment in the industry is likely to soar, thus creating jobs for skilled financial services professionals along the way.” Procorre explains that most contractor jobs will be found in fintech start-ups and will be available to those with a background in traditional financial services. Podgorski continues: “Whilst not the norm, we’re predicting it will be African start-ups that are more likely to take on contractors to help them develop technologies and launch products into market. Fintech is a competitive and risky business, so they may be less willing to take on permanent members of staff in the first instance. “However, fintech firms also recognise the need for an experienced workforce to help make their ideas a reality, so naturally they see the existing financial services sector as one of the main sources of talent for their needs. Both of these factors will provide specialist contractors with the opportunities they’re looking for.” According to Procorre, banks in Africa are increasingly seeing the continent as a testbed for new financial technologies and are starting to think more seriously about the future of traditional banking services. As such, they are gradually acquiring successful fintech start-ups which present alternative and less risky opportunities for those looking to make the move over to the fintech contractor market. Procorre has identified five of the most sought after skills finance professionals will need if they are considering a move into the African fintech market:
- Technology know-how – having the right technology skills, as well as an understanding of the financial services sector, will help fintech contractors stand out from the crowd. Knowledge of Java, C#, Murex and Python will be an added bonus for employers.
- Problem solving – this is a fairly new market, especially in Africa, so contractors will need to solve problems they haven’t come across before. They’ll also need to have creative flair to turn problems into workable solutions.
- Innovating – the African market is likely to evolve very quickly, so contractors will need to find innovative ways of evolving with it and importantly, staying ahead of the curve.
- Analysing data – it’s a prerequisite that financial services contractors will be good with numbers, but it’s even more important for those entering the fintech market. Large amounts of ‘big data’ will need analysing, whether it’s looking at the users of a new system or the rationale behind the systems themselves.
- Project management – project management skills lend themselves very well to contractors, so if a financial services contractor has previous management experience, these skills can be easily transferred to the fintech market.
Podgorski concludes: “The demand for fintech professionals means employers will be prepared to pay to get people with the right skills, so we’re encouraging people to get a slice of the action now while the African market is still young. The opportunities are limitless.”