OPay, a unicorn fintech, has emerged as a household name in Nigeria, spearheading a mobile money revolution reminiscent of Kenya’s successful ‘M-PESA’ mobile money system.
In just five years, OPay has become Nigeria’s most downloaded fintech app, offering a ‘super app’ that combines multiple services despite the Lagos State Government’s ban on bike-hailing service ORide, OPay’s mobile money and payment services continue to thrive.
By leveraging its vast network of agents, OPay enables unbanked and underbanked users to easily send and receive money, pay bills, and conduct financial transactions. The company’s success can be attributed to several factors, including its ability to address the challenge of poor digital identity.
OPay utilizes phone numbers and BVN as identifiers, offering a richer experience than competitors relying solely on USSD.
Also, OPay’s agile IT network allows for rapid capacity expansion, surpassing the capabilities of traditional banks.
While OPay’s core strategies have played a crucial role in its success, its significant financial backing from parent company Opera cannot be overlooked. The availability of ample funding has empowered OPay to aggressively promote its offerings to all Nigerians, whether banked, unbanked, or underbanked.
Some industry stakeholders credit OPay’s rise to the failure of commercial banks to invest in their IT infrastructure.
The recent cash crunch exposed the frailty of traditional banks’ systems, prompting many Nigerians to shift towards FinTech. OPay, along with other innovative companies, capitalized on this opportunity and offered swift transactions, accessibility, and attractive incentives that traditional banks couldn’t match.
OPay’s advantage lies in its extensive agent network, made possible by acquiring a Mobile Money Operator (MMO) license. With over 500,000 agents, OPay’s network surpasses that of Firstmonie, the fintech arm of one of Nigeria’s largest banks. The ease of acquiring POS machines and OPay’s commitment to agent empowerment have made it a popular choice among aspiring agents.
Customers have also lauded OPay for its convenience, wide range of services, and the ability to make free transfers to other banks. However, some users have expressed concern about OPay’s recent decision to charge N10 per transfer after the third transaction in a day.
OPay’s journey in Nigeria began with Opera’s $100 million investment fund, with a significant portion dedicated to the Nigerian market. The acquisition of PayCom, a Nigerian fintech service, fueled OPay’s growth and enabled its position as a dominant player in Nigeria’s fintech landscape.
With recent major funding rounds, including a $400 million investment led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, OPay continues to shape the fintech industry and solidify its role as a driver of financial inclusion in Nigeria. As OPay’s user base surpasses 35 million customers, its impact on the country’s financial landscape is undeniable.
Overall, OPay’s transformative approach, extensive agent network, and commitment to financial inclusion are revolutionizing Nigeria’s financial industry, providing easy and affordable services to individuals who were previously underserved.
Risevest Acquires Chaka: A Fintech Merger Set to Revolutionize Nigeria’s Investment Landscape
Founders of Risevest and Chaka Optimistic About Synergies in Pioneering Fintech Merger
Months of behind-the-scenes negotiations have culminated in a groundbreaking acquisition that promises to reshape the fintech landscape in Nigeria.
Risevest, the innovative fintech startup, has officially acquired digital trading pioneer Chaka in a deal that founders Tosin Osinbodu and Eke Urum describe as both strategic and exciting.
A Transformative Partnership
Speaking on the acquisition, Tosin Osinbodu, the founder of Chaka, and Eke Urum, the visionary mind behind Risevest, confirmed the successful conclusion of the acquisition on a Tuesday morning.
Osinbodu expressed his enthusiasm for the future, saying, “We’re excited, especially from the perspective of people; high level and strategically, this deal makes sense.”
He further added, “I’m excited about how Chaka’s product will evolve and how we’re going to learn from the Risevest team.”
While financial details of the transaction remain confidential, both companies have reassured that Chaka and Risevest will continue to operate as separate entities.
According to Eke, “Chaka’s ownership and cap table will get updated, but everything else remains; the team stays the same.”
Both companies plan to collaborate closely to enhance their respective product roadmaps, reflecting a commitment to growth and innovation.
A Perfect Match
Insiders suggest that this acquisition was a natural fit due to the complementary licenses held by both Chaka and Risevest. Although neither founder offered comment on this particular aspect, it provides a glimpse into the strategic rationale behind the merger.
Chaka, founded in 2019, positions itself as an “investment passport” for users. Through the Chaka app, users can invest in shares of publicly traded companies in Nigeria and the United States with investments as low as $2. Also, fractional shares are available, making investing more accessible than ever.
Chaka’s journey has been marked by challenges, including a temporary setback in December 2020 when the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) suspended its operations in Nigeria. The SEC’s ban stemmed from a perceived lack of licensing. However, through dialogue with regulators, Chaka became the first trading startup to secure a digital sub-broker license in March 2021.
The Road to Merger
Eke Urum, the founder of Risevest, shared with TechCabal the fascinating story of how this groundbreaking merger came to fruition. It all began with a mutual investor who floated the idea earlier in the year. Informal discussions commenced in March 2023, with both founders quickly finding common ground and even joking about their hypothetical collaboration as co-founders in an alternate reality.
Eke stated, “The first conversation we had about this was: this is where Chaka is trying to go; I wonder if this could happen. Investors on both sides have also always been aware. To my knowledge, all investors bought in when we spoke to them about this deal.”
Tosin Osinbodu concluded, “Knowing how much we have put in, the investors understand that we’re committed to it. I think the investors are really glad about this outcome and what the future holds.”
A New Era in Nigerian Fintech
The Risevest-Chaka merger not only marks a significant moment in the history of Nigerian fintech but also signals a commitment to growth, innovation, and expanding access to investment opportunities for Nigerians.
With their shared vision and diverse strengths, these two fintech powerhouses are set to navigate the evolving financial landscape together, potentially setting new industry standards and inspiring collaboration across the Nigerian tech ecosystem.
London Fintech Owner Faces Extradition to Belgium Over Alleged Money Laundering for Drug Traffickers
A London-based fintech owner accused of aiding drug traffickers in laundering hundreds of millions of euros through a cryptocurrency exchange platform must be extradited to Belgium to face criminal charges, a London judge ruled.
Caio Marchesani, the owner of Trans-Fast Remittance, a payments business regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, is alleged to have facilitated the hoarding of significant amounts of cash for Sergio Roberto De Carvalho, a Brazilian previously described by Interpol as one of the world’s most wanted kingpins before his arrest in 2022.
Marchesani is also accused by prosecutors of managing cryptocurrency accounts for Flor Bressers, a Belgian national known as the “finger cutter.”
Marchesani, who was apprehended at Heathrow Airport in May, has seven days to appeal against the extradition order, according to the London judge’s decision on Tuesday.
Following the ruling, both Marchesani’s lawyer and the prosecution declined to comment.
In a statement filed in court last month, Marchesani maintained his innocence, stating, “I have not been involved in money laundering the proceeds of drug sales for the alleged organized criminal group.”
His legal representatives at Mishcon de Reya had previously argued that the prosecution’s case contained “false, vague, ambiguous, or inaccurate particulars.” They emphasized that none of the allegations against Marchesani were related to his business interests in the UK.
The efforts to extradite Marchesani are part of a broader investigation that began three years ago after the Dutch government seized more than 12 tonnes of cocaine, valued at over €260 million ($278 million), at Europe’s busiest port, Rotterdam. Authorities traced the seized drugs back to Bressers and De Carvalho, eventually focusing on Marchesani after a breakthrough in decoding encrypted communications.
Prosecutors acting on behalf of Belgian authorities alleged, “He is a shadow banker who receives money, either in cash, cryptocurrency, or both, and moves it around at the will of the criminal organization to disguise its origins,” during an earlier hearing.
A trial involving 30 defendants in the case, including Bressers, commenced in Belgium earlier this month but was immediately postponed, as reported by local press outlets.
A pre-recorded message from Trans-Fast Remittance stated that their payment service is currently offline but aims to resume services soon. Companies House filings from August indicate that another owner has been added to the registry.
Flutterwave, Africa’s Leading Payments Technology Company, Celebrates the Success of its Graduate Trainee Program
Flutterwave, the foremost payments technology company in Africa, proudly announced yesterday that it has successfully onboarded nearly 85 percent of its 200 Graduate Trainees following a year of intensive training.
In a recent statement, the company emphasized its unwavering commitment to nurturing young talent while maintaining its reputation as an exceptional workplace that fosters career growth opportunities in the technology sector.
Launched in August 2022, the Flutterwave Graduate Trainee Program was a 12-month-long paid initiative tailored for recent graduates with limited or no prior work experience but boundless aspirations.
The program’s primary objective was to establish a network of emerging talent, equipping them with both technical and soft skills, along with practical experience, through engagement with a global organization boasting over 750 employees worldwide.
The program’s adaptability, including accommodating the unique needs of recent graduates, such as aligning with their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) obligations, underscores Flutterwave’s commitment to its customers, young talent, and the community.
Speaking on the successful culmination of the program and the abundant growth opportunities available to employees at Flutterwave, Mansi Babyloni, Flutterwave’s Global Chief People Officer, said, “We are excited to have fulfilled our mission of providing 200 exceptionally bright young graduates with the opportunity to learn on the job and kick-start their careers in the tech industry early in life. As 170 of them transition from Graduate Trainees to full-time employees after completing 12 months of on-the-job training and shadowing, a world of opportunities awaits them. I am thrilled that they can now navigate their career paths within our newly launched career progress framework, which epitomizes boundless potential. Today, they hold roles as Analysts and Engineer 1s; tomorrow, they could be VPs and CXOs. At Flutterwave, anything is possible. I extend my best wishes to all 200 Graduate Trainees, even those who have pursued other opportunities; the world is your oyster!”
Bode Abifarin, Chief Operating Officer at Flutterwave, said, “We’re thankful for the successful completion of the Flutterwave Graduate Trainee Program. We thank the People Team and all the Graduate Trainee Managers that helped coach, mentor and train our GTs to propel their growth into Analysts and Engineer 1s. This is in line with our mission to create endless possibilities for all; truly, their careers have taken off and there’s no limit to what they can achieve going forward.”
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