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FBC has set its sights on disruption with the launch of a Fintech division

Xarani FBC Holdings

FBC Holdings has thrown a curveball with the announcement of its new Fintech Division/Company called Xarani. According to FBC the reasoning behind the formation of the company is to better maximise the opportunities that have sprung up in the accelerated shift to digital that was a consequence the pandemic

Xarani’s launch is something that I am sure not a lot of people expected. However, the direction isn’t out of character for FBC Holdings. If you remember last year FBC’s Banking Division announced that anyone could now open full KYC accounts via its *220# USSD. This was a major move at the time because EcoCash and other mobile money were just coming to terms with the new set of restrictions placed upon them by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Account opening via USSD and then on the mobile app drastically reduced the friction that traditionally plaugued the process. It to me looks like the path to Xarani may have started there.

So what is Xarani going to be doing?

Xarani is a fully-fledged financial technology company that will be serving the FBC Group, however, its services and products are open to local and regional banks, fintech startups/businesses, vendors and regulators. FBC says that as much is it part of the Group, Xarani is neutral and autonomous.

“The establishment of Xarani Fintech is part of the FBC Holdings Group’s Digital digital transformation thrust which entails repositioning the group as a digital and innovation-oriented entity. As part of this process, the group has made significant business adjustments, invested in world-class and leading-edge technologies for serving a wide range of start-up companies and well-established institutions”

FBC Holdings

The company will be offering the following products/services:

  • APIs
  • Digital On-boarding
  • Electronic Know Your Customer
  • Real-time- Proof of Life
  • Digital Identity 
  • Credit Scoring

Essentially, Xarani is looking to become a Platform as a Service (PaaS), which is usually defined as a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications.

Xarani will be headed by Agrippa Mugwagwa who is serving as Managing Director. Before this, Agrippa Mugwagwa worked as the Executive Director of the Retail Banking & e-Commerce division at FBC Holdings for a decade.

“We have adopted an ecosystem approach to improve value creation through internal and external synergies. Quite a lot of capital investment has been channelled towards ensuring that Xarani Fintech’s hardware and software are capacitated to meet the demand emanating from the co-creation and collaboration with a wide range of players in the financial services sector value chain ecosystem. Co-creation aptly describes its nuance to competition which also includes cooperation where value can be created with competitors. We are geared to embrace and implement new ideas with agility, speed and scale. This will be driven by a data and analytics culture in decision-making ahead of hierachy and other non-scientific factors.”

Agrippa Mugwagwa, Xarani Managing Director

FBC is stepping up the game

It’s evident that FBC is taking the shift to digital very seriously. The pandemic has changed the way customers interact with businesses and institutions, more so the banks.

Xarani is a clear sign of intent that FBC doesn’t want the momentum gathered during the digital rush to wane. However the only reservation I have is the willingnes of the other players in the banking sector to play ball with Xarani. I have little doubt that Fintech startups and other businesses will be more than happy to partner up with FBC’s Fintech Division.

The more established players, on the other hand, might not be as excited about this as other businesses. But who knows, as with all things if something proves itself in the market, it will be very hard to ignore. Especially in this era where customer convinience reigns above all else.

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