Almost everyone who cares about technology, money and how they are tied together will definitely care more than a bit about what goes on in the financial technology (FinTech) industry.
FinTech and FinTech companies are a relatively new thing, but it has already garnered huge attention. The attention is rightfully so because these companies have the potential to transform how we look at financial services, and they have already begun doing just that.
The term FinTech, while it seemingly looks like a simple word is quite complicated and covers a much bigger ground than you think it does.
Financial technology is used to describe the new technology which is used to automate and improve financial services. It extends beyond traditional banks, to include any service which concerns how people transact business, from digital money to double-entry bookkeeping.
The technology makes financial services faster, more accessible and easier. With FinTech, actions which would otherwise take days and physical presence can be done virtually in a few minutes. This edge, in an age of digitisation, has allowed the explosion of FinTech companies in Nigeria.
When FinTech first emerged, it applied only to the digitalisation of established financial institutions.
Traditional banks incorporated FinTech into their services to allow their customers to send and receive money, pay bills, among other things, through their mobile phones. However, the FinTech industry has seen an explosion with new applications coming to light.
From FinTech services for saving to cryptocurrency services, many options are being explored.
The Nigerian FinTech industry attracted almost half a billion dollars in investments in 2019 alone, the second greatest contribution to the FinTech industry of any African country in that year; it was only behind Kenya’s.
A major part of the investments came from foreign investors.
What is a FinTech company?
The Oxford dictionary defines FinTech as “computer programs and other technologies used to support or enable banking and financial services.”
These services are not necessarily limited to banking services. FinTech companies like Interswitch facilitate online payments. Cowrywise allows its users to save their money. Abeg allows the instant transfer of funds. BuyCoins lets its users send cryptocurrencies.
The three companies are FinTech companies even though they do not offer the same services as those offered by traditional banks.
The customers of FinTech companies vary. Some FinTech companies serve individual persons among the general public, while some serve businesses, some serve banks and others serve some other FinTech companies.
The main determinant of whether a company is a FinTech company is whether its services makes the performance of financial activities more efficient.
Top FinTech companies in Nigeria
Nigeria has seen an explosion of FinTech companies in the past few years. The companies have evolved to meet the demands of the Nigerian populace.
Some of them have become successful and risen to the top. A few include Paystack, Cowrywise, Interswitch, Paga, Kuda and Piggyvest.
Paystack describes itself as “a technology company solving payments problems for ambitious businesses”.
This FinTech company was founded in 2015 by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi.
While the net worth of Paystack is unknown, the company announced in November 2018 that it now processes over 10 billion Naira in payments monthly.
It allows businesses to receive payments quickly, securely, in any currency and from around the world.
It serves as a payment solution to various businesses and institutions, including Piggyvest, Cowrywise, Bolt, Lagos Internal Revenue Service, among others.
The company serves all kinds of businesses, from new start-ups to well-established businesses. Paystack is a customer-oriented company that is well-suited to its market.
Its payment options take into consideration the unbanked nature of many members of the Nigerian population. It allows payments through credit cards, debit cards, money transfer or mobile money. The company has investments from YC, Stripes and Visa.
The company was founded in June 2019 by David Peterside and Fara Ashiru-Jituboh, who was recently featured on Forbes Africa’s ninth anniversary issue.
The API developer company created an app that lets users connect their bank accounts to third party applications.
Okra is the first API in Africa to deliver real-time bank financial data from a bank account to any third-party application.
The company currently provides its services to high profile financial institutions like Zenith Bank, FCMB, Sterling Bank, UBA bank, Standard Chartered bank, ALAT, Keystone bank, and so many others.
Interswitch is ‘an Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company that facilitates the electronic circulation of money as well as the exchange of value between individuals and organisations on a timely and consistent basis’.
The company was founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe and allows payments through credit or debit cards.
Interswitch uses switching technology to connect different banks in Nigeria, making it possible to send money across banks.
This FinTech company also provides technology for Automated Teller Machines (ATM) cards.
Interswitch enjoys a wide reach, being the owner of Nigeria’s most used payment card, Verve. The FinTech company also owns QuickTeller, Retailpay and Smartgov.
Kuda is a completely digital bank. The major distinguishing factor of the bank is avoiding the unnecessary fees charged by traditional Nigerian banks.
With the bank, customers with an account can send money to other accounts, deposit money, save money, pay bills, purchase airtime and see a full picture of their spending habits.
Kuda received a banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria and offers accounts with no monthly fees and free debit cards.
The bank’s services are accessed through a mobile phone.
Kuda was founded in 2018 by Babs Ogundeyi and Musty Mustapha.
The bank’s founders raised 1.6 million dollars pre-seed funding before launching the beta version of the bank’s mobile app in 2018.
Piggyvest is an online saving and investment application. The start-up launched on 7 January 2016 as Piggybank.ng, and initially only offered savings to users.
However, in April 2019, the start-up rebranded to ‘Piggyvest’ and began to offer direct investment options to users rather than just savings.
It allows users to save while giving an interest rate between 10-13%.
Piggyvest includes various features that help to imbibe the saving culture in its users, from its AutoSave which automatically deducts a chosen amount which the user has chosen to save regularly, to its SafeLock which allows users to lock their money, to Investify which allows users to invest their money.
In the four years since it was founded by Odunayo Eweniyi, Joshua Chibueze, and Somto Ifezue, the start-up has managed to grow considerably.
Like Piggyvest, Cowrywise is an online savings application. The minimum deposit for saving is one hundred Naira, enough to make it affordable.
Cowrywise was founded in July 2017 by Razaq Ahmed and Edward Popoola.
The application offers financial planning tools and a digital wallet. Saving through informal means or with traditional banks will usually lead to a reduction in value due to inflation.
However, with online savings applications like Cowrywise that offer up to 10% interest on savings, no value is lost; instead, value is gained through saving with those applications.
Cowrywise has also managed to retain a large number of its customers, with up to 75% still using the application up to two years after creating accounts.
Paga was founded in 2009 by Jay Alabraba and Tayo Oviosu. It is a digital solution to sending and receiving money for both the banked and unbanked.
Paga has over 17,000 agents and over 9 million customers. It acts as a mobile wallet and can be used through a mobile phone. It also allows the transfer of money internationally.
One of the most attractive things about Paga is the ease of doing business. Users can send money anywhere in the world for free!
Flutterwave is a payment solution that allows businesses to receive payments globally. That is not all it does though.
In 2019, Flutterwave processed 107 million transactions worth $5.4 billion.
The company definitely doesn’t want to stick to processing payments and its founder has said that the company will use its expertise in education, travel, gaming, e-commerce, fintech companies.
Flutterwave also has an online marketplace through which vendors can sell a wide range of products and services.
It was founded by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Olugbenga Agboola in 2016.
This FinTech company was founded by a group of ex-bankers, entrepreneurs and engineers, and has its headquarters in San Francisco, California.
Some of its investors include Andela, Grey Croft & eVentures, and Visa, etc. In January 2020, Flutterwave raised 35 million dollars in a Series B round.
Opay, also known as Opera Pay, is a mobile money solution. It can be used for payment, grocery and delivery and other important everyday services.
Opay used to run a ride-hailing service, working towards its ambition of becoming a super app, but the company was forced to restructure its business model after a ban on motorcycles was issued in Lagos State, its main business hub.
Now, Opay’s main focus is on payment solutions, allowing users to complete a wide range of transactions including completing utility payments, betting payments, POS services, and transfers.
Opay claims to have the lowest service costs in Nigeria with no maintenance costs and with a transfer fee of only 10 Naira.
It is owned by Opera and entered the FinTech market after acquiring a controlling stake at PayCom.
Carbon is a mobile-only digital bank that provides innovative financial services to the financially underserved mass retail segment.
Carbon offers a wide range of financial technology solutions including bill payments, fund transfer, and savings products, in addition to loans. It also provides solutions for investments, personal finance management, insurance and small business advisory.
Carbon was founded in 2012 as One Credit by Chijokie and Ngozi Dozie. In 2015, the company was rebranded to One Fi, then Paylater in 2016, before settling on Carbon in 2019.
In 2019, Carbon revealed that it made the Nigerian equivalent of $312,905 in profit after tax.
How to start a FinTech company/Qualities of the best FinTech companies
There are several things involved in starting a successful FinTech company. For every successful FinTech company, some others fail.
This is why the necessary actions should be carried out before a FinTech company is started.
The most essential things are education and training, focus on a goal, attracting investment, solving a problem, customer service and building a professional team.
Education and Training
Education and training are essential in starting a successful startup. Without these, it would be impossible to start a successful FinTech company or any company at all.
This largely involves understanding how business and finance work. This knowledge may either be gotten formally, in a school, or through real-life experiences.
Either way, knowledge is essential to run any company, and a FinTech company is no exception.
Focus on a goal
Focus on a goal is also important. There are many different kinds of FinTech companies and many services which could be offered.
However, it is important to streamline these services and not attempt to provide every service possible.
This requires a focus on the initial idea. With focus, it is easier to better understand that particular idea rather than going in circles. Focus on the idea will create a stronger and more effective company.
Attracting investments is another important step in starting a successful FinTech company. Starting a FinTech company requires time and money.
While you may have time, you may need others to invest in the idea before it can come to life. If you do not have access to enough capital, it is important to try and attract investors who do.
This would involve creating a comprehensive business plan before approaching any potential investors. After creating a business plan, you may make pitches to try and attract those investors.
Solving a problem
Any FinTech company that hopes to be successful should solve a problem. It is the problem that is being solved that would encourage consumers to patronise the company.
The solution can either be something completely new or an improvement on things that were previously available.
Also, the solution should be easily accessible and simple for the consumer to use. This would enhance attracting and retaining consumers.
Customer service is important in creating a successful FinTech company. The company should be customer-centric if it is to be successful.
The success of the company is highly dependent on the continuous patronage of its customers.
This is why all communication with customers should be courteous and with a genuine attempt to help the customer through whatever problem they could have.
Building a team
Building a professional team is another step. The team will ultimately affect how successful the company can be.
This is why you should prioritise skill and experience in building your team. You want people who can create top-quality work.
Teamwork should also be prioritized. You should develop a positive working culture among all members of staff.
FinTech companies in Nigeria are changing the game through their innovative solutions which exist to make life easier for Nigerians and the world as a whole.
We cannot wait to see what new solutions they will develop in the years to come.
Don’t forget to share your thoughts or ask any questions in the comment section below.