TFT_Spotlight_MENA
Fintech Middle East & Africa Paytech Spotlight

Spotlight MEA: The Nigerian Fintech Boom with Zazuu

Zazuu is a money transfer marketplace enabling people to see and compare the best rate and fees for their remittance. Aiming to be the world’s first end-to-end money transfer marketplace, it uses an automated, programmatic computer program to interpret data across a range of platforms to identify the best market rate for customers. 

Kay Akinwunmi, 33, was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the UK aged 8. Kay studied computing at Southwark College and London Southbank University. After university he worked as a consultant for tech start-ups and global brands such as Sky and the UK Labour Party. Growing up, he witnessed the expense and inconvenience his mother endured sending money from London to Lagos, and in 2016 Kay built a remittance bot to identify the best money transfer rates between the UK and Nigeria. This was the beginning of the Zazuu solution, and Kay’s speciality is helping build modern software applications to serve millions of customers.

For our global audience, can you explain what the digital and fintech landscape across the globe currently looks like

We are seeing more divergence happening in which different sectors are coming together on one platform to give end-users a one-stop shop for all their needs. This could range from banking to entertainment, to healthcare. Open Banking and the API economy has been pivotal in this regard not just as a regulation, or a technology, but as a principal, democratising banking and enabling customers to access superior products and services

How does this alter in your country?

Nigeria, like many parts of Africa is experiencing a fintech boom, in which a young, underbanked population can use fintech to access finance more affordably, and create API and cloud backed business models utilising the high mobile phone penetration in the country. And yet Africa is the most expensive continent to send money to, and I’m hoping to change that. Divergence is yet to happen on a grand scale across vertical markets in Nigeria, but we are seeing the gradual digitisation of a multitude of sectors in the country.

How have you developed your subject matter expertise and helped to share it across in your base country?

I saw first-hand the difficulties of sending money to and within Africa. After studying computing, I was able to build a fairly simple price comparison bot to identify the best rates for a money transfer between the UK and Nigeria. The next step has been a marketing challenge, creating a brand the African diaspora could recognise, trust and use, and this has been managed by creating a team in London and Lagos to build our customer service offering.

What are future trends and predictions you see happening in your country?

The Nigerian fintech industry is positioned for growth in payments, investments, lending, and wealth management. In Nigeria in the last 10 years, the payments sub-sector has experienced the fastest growth accounting for over 30 per cent of market solutions and 15 per cent of banking revenue pools in the country. Cryptocurrency is also likely to grow in Nigeria. In May 2020, Nigeria had the highest trading volume in one week in Africa at $7.2 million. Applications like Cryptofully facilitates global remittances to Nigerian bank accounts using bitcoin. We are likely to see more applications like Cryptofully enabling cryptocurrencies to move money. Insurtech is also likely to increase. Insurance penetration in Nigeria has been estimated to be less than 1%. Meanwhile, mobile phone penetration is estimated to be over 70%. While the low penetration rate indicates a huge potential for the growth of the insurance industry, the high mobile phone penetration in the country will enable the penetration of more insurance products, delivered faster and more effectively.

Any advice or recommendations you would give to other future fintech companies and entrepreneurs based in the MEA region?

The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) will not solve the problem of having a range of local currencies and exchange rates in Africa. Yet a high mobile penetration rate in the region and an increasingly tech-savvy population will enable fintechs to create joined-up payment and customer service solutions. If you are prepared to find the most affordable, most user-friendly, app-based solutions for your customers, then you will have an opportunity to access a ready market. It’s important not to think of a region such as Africa as a homogenous unit, but a collection of very different cultures and your marketing and customer solutions must be locally relevant and responsive.

Author

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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