Fintech is a word that few outside the banking word have heard of, but AFF is a name that’s recognised everywhere. African Fintech Foundry, a branch of Access Bank revolutionised the face of banking technology, not just in Nigeria but across the African continent have won several awards for their impressive work.
Can you define Fintech?
Fintech is technology and innovation that’s used to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. So it’s essentially an emerging industry that leverages on technology to improve financial industry.
Your company’s focus is on startups, do you feel a responsibility to the new generation of African tech?
Yes. We nurture them, empower them and open up opportunities to help them grow. We do that in a number of various ways, one is leverage in our investor network to get them seen on all fronts so they achieve growth in their development. The second thing is we open up opportunity with our ecosystem so essentially our customers, within our financial services network, allow them to provide their services in there.
What’ve been your best and worst moment in the industry?
My best are the opportunities I have had to drive transformation and drive new thinking. Being able to turn the company round so fast to the point that we’re reviewing at least a hundred startups every quarter is amazing. My low moments are the points where people tend to attribute mediocrity to being in Africa, there are points where technology hasn’t worked well and I’ve been told it’s because we’re in Africa. I find it very annoying especially when I think about how things have changed in Africa in the past couple of years. Right now I know a plethora of people who rely on Whatsapp as a form of communication instead of using phones to make personal calls. I don’t use DSTV
at home, I just stream everything online.
How do you choose the startups you mentor?
We’re open to all startups, and when I say startups we’re open to businesses at different levels of maturity. We have some metrics we use in the selection process, it validates the problems they solve, the uniqueness of the solution they provide and the potential for opening new markets. We then look at what potential market size it takes, the technology and see it’s difficult for competition to imitate.
How do you plan to spread awareness of Fintech?
We are planning to leap further to influence regulations around the space to make it a more healthy environment for everyone to play so it opens up opportunities for more investors to help us drive the disruption so it encourages innovation for the start ups and start up enthusiasts and provides more benefits that we again can all leverage on.
You were the first Fintech company . Do you feel that AFF sets the standards and how do you stay on top of the game?
Very clearly, we are a leader in this space and the services we have pushed out asserts that. We have won a number of awards, around digital enablement through the financial service industry and we continue to do that. We continue to drive more partnerships with investors and are thinking to expand to become more African focused. One of the things that affirms that even further is the conference we just completed last week which was themed Digital Gold Rush: Building a Sustainable Tech Economy. It was quite a significant achievement, it was the largest technology conference in Africa, even at the end of the conference we still had about 5000 people in the hall, we had an additional 500 streaming it. It was focused on how data is the currency for the new economy and there were other panels where we talked about women in tech and building an enabling environment for investors.
How many messages are in your inbox right now?
What do you think the technological face of Africa will be like in ten years?
I think there’s going to be a number of illustrations in regard to technology in Africa. There’s already a growing indication that technology is now an enabler across a multiplicity of industries. Africa is getting a good share of that because there’s a lot of innovation going on around Africa today. Yes, you can argue that they’re slightly rough around the edges but there’s also a lot of focus from the investment community to bring out the diamonds in the rough. I think the face of technology here is going to come out of a number of industries and they’re going to be harnessed primarily by the investors and regulations that come in to enable good investments within Africa.
Fintech is a world that revolves are material profit. Do you define success with wealth?
I think there’s something more fundamental in that, such as how do you define wealth? Some define it as riches, some people take wealth from the perspective of impact and some take it as the knowledge that you’re able to share with people. I’m more of the latter, so success for me is being able to leverage more technology to deepen experience and exposure within the population. Being able to drive empowerment for financial inclusion and push service evasiveness out of undeveloped and underdeveloped environments. Being able to help businesses in other industries, for example, technology being used in agriculture to help farmers in rural areas. Being able to eliminate human errors, being able to create career options for the masses and empowering people, for me, that’s all success.