Our 2022 predictions that deserve a second look

A look back: Last year, we made four predictions for 2022. Here are two that were too close to call.

Prediction 1: We expected that Block would make its super app play in 2022.

Our reasoning: Block made several moves in 2021 that pointed toward it launching a super app this year.

  • Block closed its acquisition of music streaming service Tidal and also announced plans to purchase Afterpay. Expanding into these diverse segments made us believe it would eventually house them in one super app platform.
  • Block also rolled out a flurry of new solutions in 2021, like bank accounts and crypto services—deepening its reach into new business and consumer segments.

Why we’re not calling it a loss: Block doesn’t have a super app yet, but it took more steps toward becoming one this year.

  • It expanded its Square ecosystem with new merchant tools like credit cards and revamped solutions. It also expanded Cash App Pay acceptance outside of the Square ecosystem.
  • It established stronger ties between its ecosystems to create more seamless customer experiences—like what’s typically seen in super apps.
  • At this point, Block offers many of the products and services that PayPal does—and PayPal introduced its super app in 2021.

Prediction 2: We thought multinational financial services companies would shift from partnerships to acquisitions in Africa.

Our reasoning: Africa was ripe for digital payments growth, and we believed firms would tap this opportunity through acquisitions. Full ownership would let companies like Visa, Mastercard, Block, and PayPal scale more quickly in the market.

Many of these multinational firms partnered with local players like Nigerian paytech Flutterwave and Zambia-based wallet Digital PayGo last year as cash use declined across the continent: The share of point-of-sale (POS) payments made with cash in the Middle East and Africa dropped 16.3% year over year (YoY) in 2021, per FIS.

Consolation prize: There were no major acquisitions like we expected, but there was an increase in investments into African fintechs—an impressive feat considering this year’s funding crunch.

  • African startups snagged a record $3.5 billion in the first half of 2022, according to the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA).
  • The financial sector dominated VC investments in Africa in H1, accounting for 44% of deal value thanks to fintechs like MFS Africa, which raised $200 million in June.

Widespread economic uncertainty likely scuttled acquisition plans in 2022. But market conditions haven’t shaken confidence in the region’s digital payments potential from the likes of Visa and Google, which means deal talks may arise down the road.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Payments Innovation Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the payments industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.