The Fintech Scene at the World Cup (Finale)

Here comes our final post in the fintech football series, it certainly has been eye-opening! Today, we’re looking at the final group (H) in the World Cup; South Korea, Portugal, Uruguay, and Ghana!

South Korea

South Korea is known for many things like; K-Pop/dramas, amazing skin care products, a great match against Portugal, and insane technology! I mean South Korea is an IT powerhouse, you probably own at least one thing from Samsung or LG! So, it’s no surprise that fintech has found a thriving environment in the country.

Being a tech-savvy country made it easier for the fintech industry to grow. The population is also mobile-oriented using mobiles for everything and mainly payments, P2P loans, investments, and blockchain technology. The country is also one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world where mobile payments accounted for 60.2% of the value of all online purchases. 34% of users used social media payment gateways to complete their mobile purchases. There are so many mobile payment platforms in SK that they’ve now become household names such as; KakaoPay, NaverPay, Payco, SamsungPay, Lotte Group’s L Pay, and Toss.

On top of that, the seeming war between fintech and banks doesn’t have a place in the country as more banks are getting into fintech themselves. As for online banks, Kakao Corporation established Kakao Neobank in 2017 and gained 6.3 million people in the first year. THAT is on the people’s trust and tech literacy!

A lot of the success of SK’s fintech scene is due to the high level of tech literacy, the country’s financial Regulatory Sandbox, and banks and fintechs working on the same side. South Koreans really are the dreamers and they do make it happen, fintech or otherwise!

Portugal

Portugal is not only moving to the second round in the World Cup, but it’s also moving up the fintech ladder by raising EU 1 billion for fintech funding in 2022. Crypto and blockchain markets took the cake with an incredible 75% of all fintech funds in 2022.

There are about 69 fintechs currently in Portugal, but startups are taking the driver’s seat when it comes to building the country’s new financial ecosystem. Payments, lending, and credit companies represent 39% of startups meanwhile, blockchain and crypto represent 17% of the ecosystem.

The country has a small but strong tech-savvy market. It offers a large pool of VCs that can accelerate growth in startups. An immigrant-friendly society with little to no difficulty bridging cultural differences and allowing for more innovation. There’s still, however, room for growth as the country still doesn’t have a fintech sandbox, unlike many other European countries.

Uruguay

While they may have gotten out of the World Cup, they rose up in the fintech ranks. Just in 2020, Uruguay was at the bottom of LatAm’s fintech global index and then rose to the top 20 in 2021. While it’s still at the beginning of its fintech journey, the country has all that it takes to build a great fintech environment. First off, the continued economic growth allows for opportunities for tech startups. Secondly, there’s a lot to do! That means so many untapped potentials and service industries. Thirdly, it’s not only politically stable but also has well-developed educational and research institutions. Mixing all these ingredients together along with a safe and intensely confidential banking system and we get a fintech haven.

One of the country’s most successful fintechs – which also became its first unicorn- is the fintech payment company dlocal. We could say that the company is now an Uruguayan fintech landmark. It provides international payments and connects global merchants to emerging markets. The government also offers a support system for innovation with more than 50 incubator and accelerator programs.

Ghana

When a country is low on fintech, that only means that it’s high on opportunities. However, it’s not the case for Ghana as it’s both high on fintech and opportunities. The country is estimated to have around 100 fintechs, mainly related to payment solutions. That is not to say that there’s no fintech diversity in Ghana. Its fintech ecosystem also includes blockchain, security trading, assets management, buy now, pay later (BNPL), and loans.  Recently, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) launched GhanaPay mobile wallet to encourage the rise of the country’s cashless and financially-inclusive ecosystem. There’s still a lot to Ghana’s fintech journey, but it sure will be an interesting one.

Well, this concludes our Fintech World Cup series with South Korea going on to the next stage in the World Cup and winning this round’s fintech game!

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