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“The digital transformation has the potential to dramatically increase financial inclusion in Africa”

September 5, 2022 | Interview
Published on

By Susana Garcia Hiernaux

The Regtech Africa Magazine summer special edition is dedicated to the hugely successful Regtech Africa Conference 2022, with great interview insights from inspiring speakers like James Gabriel Claude, CEO of Global Voice Group.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and your current role?

I first completed studies in ICT engineering before obtaining a master’s in management from Boston University. Over the last decade, this led me to hold various positions at GVG, including Chief Technology Officer, until my appointment as CEO of the company in 2018.

What does RegTech mean to you?

RegTech can hold different meanings depending on who you ask: the regulated ones or the regulators. For the regulated ones, private companies in the telecom and financial sectors, RegTech designates the technology they use to manage and ease their regulatory compliance burdens. For the regulators, it encompasses all the new technologies used in the broader scope of monitoring and enforcing this regulatory compliance across a whole industry.

How does the RegTech market look like in your country?

We do not limit our operations to one specific country, being very active in many across Africa. This being said, the African RegTech market is developing rapidly. As digital transformation is changing the African economy, it also changes the way we regulate the various sectors of this economy, fueling demand for RegTech solutions like ours. Two years ago, the global RegTech market was valued at 15 Billion US dollars. Some market analysts like Verified Market Research suggest that it should reach over 87 Billion US dollars by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 24%.

Where do you see the main opportunities and challenges?

From the point of view of our clients, the regulators, one of the main challenges is to keep up with the technological changes in various regulated sectors such as telecoms, financial services, gambling, and lottery. Digitization has the potential to make everything easier to regulate, as it ensures traceability and accountability across these various ecosystems. But the tools you use to achieve this must be adapted to a technological environment in constant evolution. Another big challenge is to adapt regulatory frameworks to this evolution in Africa, considering, for example, cyber risks, growing data privacy concerns, revenue leakages, digital identity, financial inclusion, and, overall, a global shift towards a more cashless and digital society. Those are common challenges for the regulators and the regulated industries as well. Both must collaborate to turn these challenges into great opportunities. RegTech can be used to facilitate such collaboration.

How would you describe the transformation taking place in the financial sector?

As being full of opportunities and risks, hence the importance of adapting the regulatory framework to this transformation and implementing RegTech to support it. This transformation, if we consider only its digital aspect, has the potential to dramatically increase financial inclusion in Africa and bring more people into the formal economy, enabling sustainable state-building in African countries.

What are the key drivers of innovation and change in RegTech right now?

There are many, but the emergence of Big Data technologies is one of the most notable right now for both the regulated industries and their regulators. RegTech companies like us do not only provide tools to manage regulatory compliance, but also give their client access to the Big Data resources they need to get valuable insights into their business, for the regulated, and into the market, for the regulator, allowing for better-informed decision-making.

What’s your opinion on the dual role of regulators as facilitators and impediments of innovation?

I see regulators as catalysts of innovation in the broader perspective of social and economic improvement, in line with the digital agenda of the state for which they exercise their mandate. This leads them to act as both facilitators and monitors of such innovation.

What do you think is the future of the RegTech industry?

There’s a bright future ahead of us, with RegTech being increasingly used to improve collaboration between regulators, governments, and the industry. As these technologies further bridge the technological gap between the regulated and the regulators in Africa, they also facilitate regulatory evolution to the benefit of all stakeholders.

Any final thoughts on how you or your organization is a part of this future?

Our group has a very busy agenda for this year and the coming years. We are constantly enriching our ever-evolving RegTech offer. In the future, our RegTech approach will be increasingly integrated into the broader vision of inter-agencies collaboration and e-government, maximizing the value of big data across the whole decision-making chain.

Would you like to read the article on “Mobilizing Tax Resources for Development in Africa” that also appeared in this issue of the magazine? Click here.