BitPesa at the Fintech Insider Series in London


Payments make the world go round by facilitating the exchange of goods or services for value. We use various payment methods to makes purchases or transfer money. Simply put, payments are necessary for economies to thrive and so developments in this industry impact the lives of everyone around the world, and BitPesa gets this.

BitPesa recently joined industry leaders in a panel discussion about the developments in the payments sector titled FinTech Insider Series: Payments Then, Now and Tomorrow. The UC Berkeley Haas Alumni Club and the Kellogg Alumni Club of London discussed payments and how they have evolved over the past decade across the globe.

Matt Sloan, Managing Director of Discover Financial Services; Fabien Gitenay, Director of Strategy for Visa; Charlene Chen, Chief Operating Officer of BitPesa; and moderator Ajit Ramachandran, the VP of Barclaycard Payment Solutions, discussed payments and their evolution in various parts of the world like Europe, Africa, and Asia. The discussion centered on the rise of regional competitors to Visa, MasterCard, and blockchain payments from regulations, to mobile payments in the developing world, to future trends and business implications.

The payments industry is constantly undergoing innovation. Technology, regulation and consumer behavior contribute to this changing landscape. Chen highlighted how BitPesa is leveraging Blockchain settlement to address the high cost, slow speed, and inconvenience of making business payments to, from, and within sub-Saharan Africa. The company has a cutting edge angle in that it leverages Blockchain settlement to enable African companies to make international payments to suppliers in China, Dubai, the U.S. and Europe. BitPesa also provides a white-label service to international businesses and money transfer companies that need wholesale FX and/or last mile distribution to mobile money wallets and bank accounts across Africa.

When the panelists discussed who or what their companies view as competition,

Chen said, “Some banks and card companies are worried about fintech companies disrupting their market share. But the silent competitor that all digital payment products share is cash, which is still king in developing countries, and even in some developed countries.”

The discussion transitioned to the role of Blockchain technology in the payments ecosystem. All three panelists agreed that there is value in Blockchain technology, but that time will tell what the most viable and scalable applications are.

Chen concluded, “Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies may not have reached mainstream adoption yet, but Blockchain technology will continue to disrupt the world as we know it. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Tipping Points for Innovative Technologies” report, 10% of the global GDP will be stored on the Blockchain by 2027.”