Flutterwave to broaden reach in Kigali

Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, is positioning itself as a prominent technology hub for African companies. Flutterwave, one of Africa’s leading fintech firms, is among the companies turning to this ambitious East African country to strengthen their operations. Although Flutterwave has been operating in Rwanda since 2020, it now aims to establish the country as a settlement hub for payment operations in the region. The company expressed its commitment to opening a regional hub in Kenya; however, it has faced challenges obtaining a payment provider license in Kenya due to lawsuits and allegations of money laundering.

In a significant development, the fintech announced in March that it had acquired Electronic Money Issuer (EMI) and Remittance licenses in Rwanda. These licenses allows the firm to hold money in wallets and facilitate cross-border transactions. Rwanda holds particular importance for Flutterwave as it is one of the few markets where the company possesses all the required licenses. Flutterwave’s CEO expressed enthusiasm about the market readiness and the support received from Rwanda, emphasising plans to establish a financial operations centre in the country.

Notwithstanding Rwanda’s relatively small market size, fintech companies, including Flutterwave, are turning to Kigali as they expand across Africa. Rwanda’s government has implemented regulatory reforms and positioned itself as an international financial centre, making it an attractive destination for fintech firms. The government has approved several laws in recent years to ease business operations and establish a solid legal and governance framework for companies operating in Africa. Rwanda has found support for its ambitions from institutions such as the Qatar Financial Centre, Jersey Finance in Britain, and Singapore’s Monetary Authority.

The Rwandan operations of various fintech companies, including MFS Africa, NALA, and ChipperCash, have emerged in recent times. At the Inclusive Fintech Forum in Kigali, the founders and CEOs of these companies urged the presidents of Rwanda and Zambia to create bilateral agreements that would enable fintech license “passporting.” This would allow licensed fintech companies in one country to operate seamlessly in the other, thanks to harmonised regulatory regimes. Kigali’s International Financial Centre, launched in early 2020, has made remarkable progress in a short span of time by enacting new laws, forging partnerships, and attracting attention from global financial institutions.

In the Global Financial Centre Index, Kigali has been ranked higher than Kuwait City in the Middle East, Nairobi, and Lagos, placing just behind Mauritius, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. With its commitment to innovation and favourable regulatory environment, Kigali is striving to become a leading technology and financial hub in Africa, attracting the attention of fintech firms seeking a stable and supportive business ecosystem.

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