The contours of African consumer purchasing power and the opportunities for the tech industry.

This post was co-authored by the DFS Lab team.

We recently discussed the concept of the “Frontier Blindspot”: a set of biases we think everyone needs to watch out for, including ourselves. In summary:

“This disconnect between the conditions that drove the growth of the digital economies in high income countries and on-the-ground reality in frontier markets creates what we call the Frontier Blindspot. As Western markets digitized their economies, the world developed intuitions about how technology markets are structured, what successful technology companies look like, and so on. …


The DFS Lab team

I am very happy to be writing this post, brimming even! Today we’re adding two new members to our DFS Lab team and nearly doubling in size.

Beyond having found and hired two exceptional individuals who will add immeasurably to our team’s capabilities (more on them below), we are also moving in some exciting new directions.

To help you make sense of our new direction and our new hires, it’s helpful to take a look back at the first phase of DFS Lab. We invested in over a dozen companies, some of whom went on to attract investments from leading…


Apply to prototype products built on the Mojaloop stack and work with the team behind the open-source software for interoperable payments

What is the opportunity?

The DFS Lab is offering a group of leading technology and financial service companies an opportunity to work with the team behind the Mojaloop platform in a closed-door session to explore how Mojaloop can be used. The event, a 5-day design sprint and hackathon, will offer participants an in-depth look at the Mojaloop stack, an opportunity to build solutions in collaboration with the Mojaloop platform developers and the opportunity to prototype products and features built on the Mojaloop stack.

Interested in applying? Apply here.

What is Mojaloop?

Mojaloop is a tool that can help reduce traditional barriers that banks and financial services providers…


We think they play by a different set of rules when it comes to finding “product market fit”.

Most investors in the US or Europe would think it was crazy if their pre-seed or even seed stage company was planning an international launch. The advice would likely be: stay focused, prove product market fit first then think about international expansion at your Series B round.

For financial companies with the extra burden of regulation and licensing in new jurisdictions it is even more daunting to consider international expansion than it would be for, say, e-commerce or other digital sectors.

But this is exactly what we are seeing in the African markets. Many startups are launching in multiple countries…


Long live the feature phone: what it means for digital financial services

By Jake Kendall and Arunjay Katakam

In the last decade, mobile phone penetration has created a digital finance revolution in Africa and South Asia. Mobile money gives users a basic wallet and a growing list of services — including money transfer, payments, credit and even limited forms insurance — all over basic or feature phones (i.e. non-smartphones). However, access to mobile money services has been largely restricted by mobile network operators (MNOs), who have not made it easy for 3rd parties to connect to the primary access channels (SIM tool-kit, USSD and SMS) on which these services operate.

Recently, smartphones…

Jake Kendall

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