I dentified as success stories and having the potential to transform the African economy, the London Stock Exchange listed about 360 companies to watch out for in 2019. Of these companies which cut across regions, countries and sectors, the LSE identified 17 Nigerian financial companies that will herald the development of financial services on the continent.
The LSE says the financial services sector is one of the fastest growing sectors on the continent. It also recognises financial inclusion as one of Africa’s success stories with a 76.5 percent growth in the number of banked Africans rising to 300 million from 170 million in 2012 and the number of mobile money accounts hitting a total of 100 million.
As a result, business a.m brings you reasons why these financial firms highlighted in no particular order are heralded as companies to further drive growth and development in the financial services space:
A Nigerian payments firm set up in 2015 by two software developers, Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi. It is used by more than 17,000 customers, from small start-ups to large government agencies, to securely collect online and offline payments and grow their business.
According to the company, its system handles more than $20m worth of payments every month, and has raised more than $9m in funding to date, with a $1.3m seed investment round in December 2016 and an $8m Series A round in August 2018.
The firm, nominated by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) has among its backers global payments firms Stripe and Visa. Paystack became the first payments company to introduce automated chargebacks in Nigeria, thus reducing the percentage of transaction volumes that merchants lose to chargebacks.
“When our customers grow, we grow too, so our strategy has always revolved around building tools that help our customers do business better and become more profi table,” says Shola, CEO and Co-founder.
“Our customer obsession has helped ensure that many Paystack merchants have grown their business by double digits and survived tough economic conditions. By extension, it’s helped Paystack grow too.”
To date, the company has built up a market share of around 15% in the Nigerian online payments space.
Venia Group is firmly plugged into the emerging patterns of business life, with a diverse collection of subsidiaries encompassing coworking spaces, insurance technology (InsurTech) and consulting.
It also helps international brands enter the Nigerian market through its Gateway service. Venia Group currently has 5,000 businesses within its network. “We are focused on disruptive ideas that leverage technology, design and service to achieve differentiation and lower cost,” says Kola Oyeneyin, founder and chief innovation officer.
Nominated by Department of International Trade Nigeria, Venia has over the past year through its subsidiary, AutoGenius, launched an insurance product aimed at drivers and riders of e-hailing companies and another product that provides affordable micro-insurance health coverage for SMEs and their employees.
The flexible subscription package it offers is also being applied when it comes to insurance. “We have applied the same concept with our insurance business, working with our partners to develop affordable products that allow for monthly subscriptions – a novelty in Nigeria,” says Kola.
TechAdvance is a Nigerian payments infrastructure company. It provides a platform to enable transaction processing and payment collection, aggregation and reconciliation. The Lagos-based company started in 2009 and has built up, and launched, a network of subsidiaries, each of which focuses on different segments of the market, such as the payment of utilities bills, financial services and transport fares.
The list of subsidiaries includes GPay, which provides payments services for corporate clients, and Transfer2Africa, an online money transfer platform. The strategy of targeting many different market niches with dedicated divisions has served the group well, with its utilities-focused subsidiary said to have performed particularly well over the past year.
“We have grown the business in recent times by focusing on more recession-proof aspects of the industries we operate in. Notably, utility payments and the need for more streamlined financial services via digital financial products,” says Edmund Olotu, Founder and CEO.
TechAdvance nominated by PwC is currently preparing for the launch of a new online arm called Advance Bank, which will offer loans as well as bespoke financial and investment advice to customers and budgeting tips. “With the rise of FinTech and the opportunities that exist for disruption in the financial services space, we see the development of this product as one of our greatest opportunities,” says Edmund.
RenMoney MFB Ltd:
Greater access to the digital world, often as a result of the widespread adoption of smartphones, has created opportunities for businesses to reach large audiences more easily than ever before. Among those taking advantage of that is Renmoney Microfinance Bank.
The company started in 2012 with a microfinance banking licence in Lagos, initially under the name RenCredit. It changed its name to Renmoney in December 2013 and since then it has upgraded to a state licence and opened fi ve more branches
The company offers short-term loans as well as deposit and savings accounts. Its loans include products specifically tailored for smartphone purchases, school fees and household appliances. Under its Loan@Work offering it also provides reduced rate financing that other companies can offer to their employees. “We’ve spent the last years building more convenient solutions to provide credit when our customers need it,” says Oluwatobi Boshoro, CEO.
“We have really focused on listening to the customer and using their feedback to iterate on services and processes.” To date, this approach has attracted a customer base of more than 25,000 people. The evolution of the financial services industry is expected to continue for the foreseeable future and Renmoney also nominated by PwC says it will continue to adapt to the changing environment. “We’re certain the industry will be remarkably different in a few years. We’re already experiencing the impact of technology, regulation and access to funding, as well as a more informed and empowered consumer,” says Oluwatobi.
ACIOE Associates Ltd:
As a consultancy firm ACIOE Associates works with a large range of businesses, from start-ups to large corporates, to help them unlock strategic opportunities, establish and manage relationships with key stakeholders and to minimise and manage risks in key African markets.
It also conducts on the ground market intelligence, research and due diligence, and designs and implements sustainability solutions for its clients.
Recent work has included providing strategic support on a $1bn infrastructure investment in Nigeria, which helped the client save more than $25m in taxes by securing a five-year tax holiday.
The self-nominated firm’s CEO, Ekenem Isichei says “By playing at the nexus of business and policy, we are strategically positioned to act as a credible partner to businesses as they navigate complex policy and regulatory challenges in African markets.”
In the coming years, the company is aiming to expand its operations into a number of other markets around the continent, including Ethiopia, Botswana, Mozambique and Côte d’Ivoire.
“We expect our business offerings to evolve with the demands of our clients, fluctuations in commodity pricing, government policy changes and the reality of the business environment,” says Ekenem.
According to the LSE, the demand for financial services in Africa is being driven by broader economy progress. This has led the continent to being the second fastest growing banking market in the world when retail and whole sale banking is taking together.
More African people than ever before now have access to finance and banking thanks to advances in mobile money development.
In building its list of companies to inspire Africa, the LSE group said it collated companies nominated by its partners, development finance institutions, venture capitalists, private equity firms, impact investors and its research partner, Asoko Insight.
The remaining 12 financial services companies nominated to inspire Africa were Social Lender, Parthian Partners Ltd, Leadway Assurance Company Ltd, FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd, Ensure Insurance Plc, ARM Life Plc all nominated by by Asoko Insight.
CDC group nominated Pagatech, Bankers Warehouse Plc and Interswitch Ltd, Google nominated OneFi Ltd, Proshare Nigeria Ltd was self-nominated, while PWC nominated L.A.T Cleveson Ltd.
The LSE said it used the financial data provided on the companies to establish the list, with the criteria of status, growth, size, and revenue to be met for inclusion.