A story that will give hope and motivation to teams to overcome impossible challenges. A story of how a dream turned into a movement that changed the face of financial services in emerging markets. Of how a few individuals inspired others to hold hands, ultimately, and work towards a common goal.
By providing technology to convert cash into digital currency (referred to as ‘cash in, cash out’ transactions) using mobile phones, a new industry was born. This industry triggered a revolution, allowing millions of people to manage their money better – first in East Africa, then in the rest of Africa and, eventually, across the world. In less than a decade, this new way of paying replaced traditional ways of banking in many countries – in a way that created a better world for hundreds of millions of people.
It is a story that needs to be told.
It is 1999.
Mobile phones are gaining global traction, particularly in emerging markets. Yet payments look set to remain a traditional banking stronghold, keeping the unbanked exiled to the margins of the cash economy. Out of the blue, an unusual directive is issued to Hannes van Rensburg, unsuspecting CIO of a large South African financial services company: walk away from a promising career, and start something – anything – new.
An industry’s time had come: with abundant resourcefulness, the mindset of a maverick and the support of a deeply committed core of key players who shared his abiding vision, Van Rensburg founded Fundamo, a mobile banking start-up that foresaw the spectacular chemistry lying dormant between mobile-phone technology and financial services.
But the pioneer’s way is seldom clear. Funding constraints, resistance to innovation and infrastructural challenges were to stand in the path of this unprecedented movement to bring financial services to the markets that mainstream banking had forgotten – obstacles that the Fundamo vision was to level, creatively yet relentlessly, in its quest to improve lives.
From Kinshasa to Karachi and India to Iraq, from remote rural villages to the bright lights of some of the world’s slickest conferences, from beers overlooking the Lusaka InterContinental’s unlikely crocodile-stocked Koi pond to pre-dawn single-malts with Mark Shuttleworth high in the Swiss Alps, Cash In, Cash Out tracks the stellar growth of one of Africa’s most successful tech start-ups, culminating in its 2011 acquisition by financial services giant Visa Inc. While it shares a wealth of knowledge for the entrepreneur, it is, first and foremost, a uniquely humanising, compelling and inspiring story about perseverance in the face of mighty personal and professional odds.
The founder of Fundamo is often seen as the father of mobile payments. Voted as one of the one hundred most influential people in telecommunications three years in a row, he lived through the initial years of the creation of the mobile banking industry. Not only as founder and CEO of Fundamo, but also in his active role in industry bodies, he has played an important part in growing the industry.
He is a popular speaker on technology innovation, the challenges of starting a new company and motivating small teams. He has been the keynote speaker at a number of conferences on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship. He has judged a number of competitions about entrepreneurship and company innovation, and currently coaches some of Africa’s best entrepreneurs.
He is passionate about creating a better world for millions of people in emerging markets, especially using technology, and has travelled widely in Africa and Asia. In the process, he has made many friends and learnt to respect and embrace the diversity of people and cultures.
In Cash In, Cash Out, he tells a personal story, sharing facts about and insights into actual events, but he also talks about what motivated him to build one of Africa’s best-known technology start-up companies.
Orders placed on Publishizer will start shipping during the last week of February, when we start receiving the first batches of books from the printers.
The book will be launched officially on the 3rd of March at a special event.
Look out for launches in the main South African cities.
Book launches in other countries are being planned.