Category Archives: TECHNOLOGY

Paystack raises $1.3m in seed investment from local and international investors

Nigerian FinTech startup, Paystack just announced that they have raised a seed investment of $1.3m from major investors, including Nigeria’s owned SPARK. This is highest amount ever to be raised by a startup of Nigerian origin as seed investment.

Below is the Press Release:

San Francisco, USA. Monday 19 December 2016. Fintech startup, Paystack, today announces it has closed on Seed Investment of $1.3M from international investors Tencent, Comcast Ventures and Singularity Investments, with participation from Spark, M&S Partners, Tokyo Founders Fund, Blue Rinc Capital, Pave Investments, KIBS-CFY Partners, Michael Siebel, Justin Kan, Olumide Soyombo, Leonard Stiegeler and a number of Angels. The announcement follows news that the fintech start-up has recently built a payment gateway integration for Shopify, one of the world’s largest eCommerce platforms.

The Y Combinator-backed online payments platform is solving the considerable challenge of online payment transactions in Nigeria, by seamlessly connecting all multi-channel payment options with merchants across the country, enabling them to accept payments from around the world, via credit card, debit card, and direct bank transfer on web and mobile.

Led by co-founders Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi, the Paystack team will use the investment to build out its engineering team in Lagos, as well grow its sales and marketing operations, to accelerate product development and customer onboarding.

paystack-payment-gateway

At present, businesses on the continent struggle to integrate and keep up with many different payment options on offer. Paystack does the heavy-lifting and is aiming to become the go-to, indispensable layer that connects merchants to payment options. Paystack is completely platform agnostic – it does not favour one payment platform over any other – something unique in African fintech, which is currently very fragmented. Merchants who sign up for Paystack can receive live payments from customers within 30 minutes of integration and the product allows for recurring billing, thanks to its PCI-Compliant one-click and subscription payments infrastructure.

Paystack CEO Shola Akinlade says: “Having painstakingly identified the many barriers that merchants on the continent have when it comes to online payments, we have built and refined a product for Africa that we hope will act as a catalyst for the continent’s online economy, be it on-demand services, ecommerce, travel & hospitality, financial services or entertainment. We know Africa’s digital economy has potential, many billions of dollars of potential, we simply need to unlock it and make businesses work better, faster and more effectively. Paystack will do this.  Thanks to the backing from our investors with today’s announcement, and our time spent with Y Combinator, we are now in the strongest position yet to resolve the disconnect between African businesses and accepting payments.”

Paystack is launching its service in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous economy, before rolling out the service across the continent. Nigerian businesses collected about $150B last year, most of which was collected offline. However the digital economy on the continent is growing fast, and Nigeria alone currently sees 6 million new Internet users every year. As mobile adoption continues at a torrid pace, with 400 million more smartphone connections by 2020 expected, the continent will need a reliable payments platform to support growth in online transactions.

“Paystack is addressing a massive market, helping businesses accept payments online in less than 30 minutes from sign-up,” said Christian Ebersol, Associate at Comcast Ventures. “We look forward to supporting this talented team as they streamline the payment process between merchants and consumers.”

Now moving out of beta, Paystack has partnered with some of Nigeria’s leading Internet companies iROKOtv, Jobberman, Payporte, and Hotels.ng, to facilitate fast, safe payments. The payment platform has also built a strong following amongst Nigeria’s technology community, as over 30 independent developers have built additional plug-ins and tools for Paystack, using the company’s REST APIs and client libraries.

Fintech as tool for digital financial services

Financial technology, popularly known as Fintech, is an emerging economic industry that comprises companies that use technology to drive efficient financial services. Granted, some are startups, with just few at the top, but the general impact of these innovative organisations has changed the global payment system, Nigeria inclusive.

McKinsey Global Institute in its latest report, said Digital Financial Services (DFS)- the emerging phase in the quest to deepen financial inclusion, payments system efficiency and transparency, would benefit billions of people, spur inclusive growth by $3.7 trillion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of emerging economies within 10 years.

DFS refers to ways in which basic financial services- payments, savings, loan or insurance products are provided, particularly to the poor, through mobile phones, the Internet and/or electronic cards/payment platforms. These platforms are the outcome of innovative ideas of Fintech.

The Deputy Director, Financial Services, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Kosta Peric, affirmed the digital payment system, besides enthroning efficiency, will reduce corruption, which is associated with cash payment.
The Treasury Single Account (TSA), pioneered by SystemSpecs, a homegrown technology, has long had the reputation of payment efficiency, particularly the immediate position of government account and detection of “ghost workers.”

The volume of TSA revenue aggregation for government, currently valued at over $30 billion yearly, is not only an example of the potential of Fintech in an economy like Nigeria, but also a reason for accelerated support for existing companies and startups.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, quoting McKinsey, said with improved and consistent adoption of digital financial services in the country’s payment space, no less than $88 billion will be added to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025.

The development, he said, will bring about substantial benefits for financial services providers and the economy, apart from boosting financial inclusion level.

Of course, Fintech has come to stay as new phase of global payment system. The only discussion at present is who dominates the innovative space in the years to come and that behooves government and stakeholders to grant necessary support now.

The focus should be on the net effect of its success on the overall economy rather than what the promoter of the technology stands to gain.

Executive Director, SystemSpecs, Deremi Atanda, said the company’s participation in the Gulf Technology Exhibition (GITEX), is an eye opener to its financial technology strength, particularly as a catalyst for economic development.

“Tomorrow’s economy will be built on digital finance as the world looks for alternative and faster ways to achieve inclusive growth, empowering individuals, businesses and governments to carry out cheaper and more effective transactions,” he said.

Nigeria, as one of the emerging economies, must leverage on the opportunities associated with digital financial services’ projection, with KPMG FinTech Report noting that it is fast becoming a dynamic ecosystem bursting at the seams with opportunities for FinTech start-ups.

Currently, less than 50 million people have bank accounts in Nigeria’s population of over 170 million people, 115 million of whom are youthful and use mobile phones for financial transactions.

SystemSpecs’ Remita is one of the handful of the dominant players in Nigeria’s burgeoning FinTech industry.

Remita, among others, has gone beyond basic financial services to impact government finance and national bottom lines massively. These should be recognised and encouraged.

Active users in Nigeria’s telecoms industry increase to 153.5m

Active users in Nigeria’s telecoms industry increase to 153.5m

The active users of telecommunications services in the country stand at 153.51 million in October, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.

The telecommunications industry regulator made this known in its Monthly Subscriber/Operator Data, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.

It said that the active telecommunications services customers increased by 214,572 in October, as against the figure in September which stood at 153,299,535.

According to the data, 153,086,710 of the 153,514,107 active numbers subscribed to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network services.
The GSM operators’ active customers increased by 249,713 from 152,836,997 subscribers recorded in September.

The reports stated that of the GSM operators, MTN had 60,982,487 users in October, which increased by 423,918, against 60,558,569 recorded in September.

Globacom figure increased in October by 150,280, giving a total of 37,117,992 customers as against 36,967,712 in September.

Airtel had 32,775,916 subscribers in the month under review, which were same users recorded in September.

Etisalat, however, recorded a reduction in customers by 324,485, giving a customer base of 22,210,315 as against 22,534,800 users in September.

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators had 244,477 active users in October, showing a decrease of 31,827 from 276,304 customers they had in September.

Between the two surviving CDMA service providers, Visafone’s customers reduced to 240,017, as it lost 31,827 users in September to record 271,844, while Multi-Links maintained 4,460 customers in September.

The monthly subscriber/operator data showed that the Fixed Wireless network’s (landline) consumers decreased to 26,942 in October, as they lost 3,774 customers from their record of 30,716 in September.

Also between the two Fixed Wireless operators, Visafone had 26,514 subscribers in October, losing 3,774 users from the September record of 30,288; while Multi-Links maintained its September record of 428 customers.

It also revealed that the Fixed Wired operators (landline) subscriber base reduced by 2,752, giving a total of 124,812 users in October, as against 127,564 recorded in September.

In the Fixed Wired arena, MTN Fixed took a decline move from 8,591 in September to 5,842 in October, thereby reducing by 2,749 users, Glo Fixed had 12,514 users in October, adding 11 customers to the September record of 12,503.

IpNX network moved from 2,587 subscriber base in September to 2,539, reducing its customers by 48 in October.

It said that 21st Century network had 103,917 customers in October, recording an increase of 34 users to its September record of 103,883.

The report also showed that Smile Communications, the only operator on the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) network had 31,166 active users in October, as it added 3,212 customers to its September subscriber base of 27,954.

The regulatory body said that Section 89 Subsection 3(c) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 mandated it to monitor and report the state of telecommunications industry.

“The commission is mandated to provide statistical analyses and identify industry trends with regard to services, tariffs, operators, technology, subscribers, issues of competition and dominance.

“This is with a view to identifying areas where regulatory intervention will be needed.

“The commission regularly conducts studies, surveys and produces reports on the telecommunications industry.

“Therefore, telecommunications operators are obligated, under the terms of the licenses, to provide NCC with such data on a regular basis for analytical review and publishing,’’ NAN quotes the report as saying.

Prosper Otemuyiwa, Nigerian Software Developer

Fire and Community

Prosper Otemuyiwa is a young Nigerian software developer who believes in giving back to the community. The community nicknamed him “Fire” for his exuberant “fire emoji” laden social media posts, which he uses to share some valuable insights on different software development related topics. While Prosper has worked with some software startups from Anakle and Andela to his recent US employer (for whom he works remotely), he has no interest in founding a startup of his own at this time. Prosper seems to be an anomaly in a community where “starting something” has seemed to become a fad.
At 24, if there is a hierarchy of young talented software developers in Nigeria or indeed Africa, Prosper will be at the very top of it. He is a “Google Developer Expert” one of the very few talented technology people Google decides to bestow this honour and he was recently a mentor at the first Google Developer Launchpad Start event in Africa held in Nairobi. He is practically a “legend” on Github, the online global developer code sharing repository and connection platform where he regularly contributes and has achieved global rankings.

Why does he not want to “start something” when there now seems to be a lot of money flowing around as incentive? It is because he believes that he does not have to. He is one of those rare professionals primarily focused on improving their skills, the craft, and community. They are not interested in doing things because of fads; they act based on deep personal convictions. He asks “if everyone is a founder, who will build the software?”. That is a very real question in a community where every person or the other seems to be a technology entrepreneur looking for developers to help them build their ideas.

This year, Mark Zuckerberg paid a surprise visit to Yaba. YCombinator partners came and ate “Jollof Rice” with members of the local investor and entrepreneur community at ccHub’s rooftop. 500 Startups also came to Lagos. It is very easy to conclude that these people all came because of our “brilliant entrepreneurs”, but I believe they came because of our “Brilliant Developers” who are now commanding Global attention for being “World Class”. It is people like Prosper and others like him that have brought this attention.

Prosper is not the only one who has “Fire” inside of him. There are several others. The local developer community started organising itself with small local community events like the “ForLoop” sessions where they networked and shared experience, and it was followed quickly by other activities powered by technology giants like Google. These events have energised the community to share experiences with each other more, and they revealed some incredible talent who would have gone unnoticed. For the first time, the developers have started to become the celebrities and not just the startup founders, as it should be. Collaboration seems to come more naturally to the developer community as they realise that they are fighting for a common purpose — “Global recognition and accreditation”. This collaboration happening in the background is the reason why the local technology community seems to be thriving.

Creating World-Class Developers
When it comes to creating “market ready” developers, our educational institutions are grossly under-equipped. My sister graduated with a second class upper in computer science but still had to learn more to be able to get a job in the market. When Iyinoluwa Aboyeji first came to me with his idea of enabling student learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) I realised that he was on to something. His startup, Fora, had a big vision of transforming Nigerian higher education learning with online content. He went on to co-found Andela as an evolution of Fora.

A couple of years later, I was at the annual Google I/O event in San Francisco, and one of our own, Moyinoluwa Adeyemi of Swifta got featured in the keynote of Udacity founder, Sebastian Thrun. Udacity was founded by Sebastian who was a Stanford University Professor, and it has now become possibly the largest global online learning portal for developers. Sebastian highlighted Moyinoluwa as one of the African developers who had taken advantage of Udacity to become a “WorldClass Android Developer”. Moyinoluwa was still a student at that time, but she had seen the future.

Google supports Udacity and provides many NanoDegree Scholarships to Africans interested in learning how to build applications on its Android platform. Udacity, Udemy, EdX, etc. are platforms that have enabled our local developers to learn and catch up very quickly with the rest of the world. In most cases, the students need no prior knowledge of programming, and the courses have been well designed to achieve learning outcomes.
Udacity has enabled several success stories, and it made me realise that access to the Internet has become the same thing as access to world-class education, at least for software developers. It, however, takes a lot of discipline to complete these courses as the same Internet is full of distractions. Those who complete these online courses have the motivation and discipline to achieve learning outcomes. It is that tenacity that makes them become “World-Class.”

Back to 2016
There is no argument that 2016 has been groundbreaking for Nigerian or even African technology because of the software developers and their community. Passion is winning. Massive investments have been made, innovative ventures launched, and these have been made possible by the fact that our developers have chosen not to be left behind by limitations in infrastructure and education. Twenty something-year-olds are making the difference once again in Nigeria, and this time, they are helping not just to build multi-million Dollar ventures, they are building our future.

Zoto mobile recharge APP, Nigeria’s fastest mobile recharge app

Zoto mobile recharge APP, Nigeria’s fastest mobile recharge app

Zoto, a product of Hedonmark Management Services Limited and Nigeria’s fastest mobile recharge app, has announced that it has become the number one app in Google play store in Nigeria for the shopping category.

With this new development, Zoto has registered a strong presence in the airtime recharge segment in Africa, which was dependent upon physical scratch recharge cards and USSD short codes until now.

 

Zoto mobile recharge APP

 

Vipul Sharma, Founder & CEO, Zoto said “We thank Nigeria for making us the number one mobile recharge app in such a short period of time. We are committed to bringing more innovations to provide reliable and convenient mobile payments solution to our customers.”

The traditional scratch cards and USSD based mobile recharge is a challenge for most Nigerians who value time and convenience.
Zoto App offers customers a convenient way to stay connected and recharge from any network. It allows the customer to save card details in the app and thus helps to eliminate the hassle of entering card details time and again.

“Mobile payments have a massive potential in Nigeria because of the growing smartphone penetration & mobile internet penetration. With 84 million unique subscribers in Nigeria, Zoto offers a disruptive and highly scalable value proposition,” further added Vipul.

Zoto is a mobile money and mobile commerce service licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Zoto is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and SSL 128-bit encryption designed to ensure that all companies that process, store or transmit credit/debit card information maintain a secure environment.