We’re excited to welcome Victor Malu to the Mojaloop Foundation team. Victor’s 35 years of experience makes him ideally suited for a role at the intersection of finance, innovation, working with regulators, and serving the low-income community. His career path has taken him through the banking sector to innovation to policy creation.

For him, the most important aspect of his career trajectory has been his ongoing push to include more people, make things more affordable, and to make useful digital solutions that solve real problems.

Although Victor is already busy, he kindly made time to share some thoughts about his background and why he’s so excited to be a part of the work we’re doing.

Connect with Victor on LinkedIn >

Q: Tell us about yourself. What has your career path been and how did you become interested in the Mojaloop Foundation and its mission?

For the first 18 years of my career, I worked in credit in the banking sector, mostly serving small to medium sized enterprise (SMEs), so I understand all their concerns. I started at Bank Indosuez, then moved to Citibank, and then to Barclays.

After about 10 years at Barclays, I started to look for ways to use my financial sector knowledge and skills to solve the low-income market segment and the SME sector.

This desire led to my next role, as head of future systems at FSD Kenya. There, I had the opportunity to lead or support a number of projects that involved governments and regulators as well as the private sector. For example, we developed the first digital lending solution in Kenya, M-Shwari. There was also Hunger Safety Net Program, Inua Jamii, and eCitizen, a platform that offers government services digitally. Perhaps the most important project that I’ve worked on is PesaLink, which started with a concept paper I wrote on how Kenyan banks could integrate their systems for transactions. To facilitate capacity building for Kenya’s digital financial services ecosystem, I set up the Digital Financial Practitioners Association of Kenya and currently serve as its first chairman.

I have also supported the government on regulation and policy. I worked on the National Payments Act, a digital policy for Kenya, and the Medium Term Plans (MTP2 and MTP3) under the Vision 2030 umbrella. I also contributed to the development of the Central Bank for Kenya’s National Payments Vision & Strategy 2023-2028.

Q: Tell us a bit about your role with the Mojaloop Foundation. What are your main responsibilities?

I’m still getting my feet wet, but my role as senior business development lead is to support Steve and the team to deploy Mojaloop in as many countries as possible. There are a number of proofs of concept we are looking at, and a number of work streams that are already in progress.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about your role, and what do you hope to accomplish?

I’m really looking forward to meeting and spending time with all the different stakeholders. I want to get operators and regulators really working together to solve financial challenges in the ubiquity and affordability of transacting.

It’s no small feat to unify the payment service providers, financial institutions, microfinance organizations, and savings and credit cooperatives on one secure interoperable platform. There are many pieces that need to come together seamlessly and in a way that benefits everyone. For example, there has to be an element of profitability, which means reasonable returns for those who have invested. But also, the regulators’ needs have to be met, and they’re concerned about issue resolution, risk and compliance, and settlement.

But it all starts with just having those conversations about how to provide a platform that will enable all of that.

Q: In your opinion, what have been some of the Foundation’s most significant accomplishments to date? Are there any particular projects or implementations that you find exciting?

For me, a big moment was the establishment of the Level One Principles by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I was engaging with the Mojaloop Foundation at the time, and watching that rollout was inspiring. Seeing Mojaloop emerge as a reference model for those principles was also very exciting.

I don’t want to go into mentioning any specific projects at the moment, but I’m looking forward to supporting all the current ongoing implementations.

Q: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in the digital payments landscape?

The biggest challenge I see is trust.

Digital innovation can be done fairly rapidly, but the challenge is — and probably this is mainly in Africa — that we may have left the consumer behind. This is because in order for you to trust something, your understanding has to be at a certain level.

In richer countries, trusting a bank is easier because people are familiar with banking, even if they’re not bankers. There is a certain level of financial literacy that exists, and this extends to mobile money or digital payments. But in economically developing countries, I think there is a need to spend more time working with communities to improve their level of financial capability.

We, as a financial industry, also have to develop better mechanisms for consumer protection, because part of the trust deficit is that if something goes wrong, people don’t know the recourse mechanisms.

Q: What keeps you excited and motivated to help further the Foundation’s mission? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

What gets me up in the morning are the more than a billion individuals who are still financially excluded.

My belief is that financial services are a pillar of any individual’s life. These services are tools for people to either pull themselves out of poverty or sustain their financial health. So the world community should be looking at universal access to financial services, as I know we are.

I am excited by the idea of helping to create financial solutions that solve real life problems for the low-income community, whether it be food, health, shelter, education for their children — all the fundamental needs that we all have.