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Nigerian fintech to expand

Africa Global Funds
Jan. 2, 2017, midnight
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Nigeria has the capability to become one of the most significant leaders in Africa’s financial technology innovation, according to Irrational Innovations, a venture capital fund focused on fintech in Africa.

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Nigeria has the capability to become one of the most significant leaders in Africa’s financial technology innovation, according to Irrational Innovations, a venture capital fund focused on fintech in Africa.

Noa Wolfson, Chief Growth Officer at Irrational Innovations, said that Nigeria has exhibited growth in mobile money operations from an average monthly transaction value of $5m in 2011 to $142.8m in 2016. 

She said there are a few key ingredients that are enabling Nigeria to be a leader in fintech innovation: its growing population (according to the UN’s projections, the population in Nigeria is expected to be larger than the population in the US by 2050) and talented workforce with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. 

A survey conducted by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reveals that 85% of Nigerians see good opportunities to start a firm in the area where they live, and 87% believe they have the required skills and knowledge to start a business. 

Additionally, mobile penetration and usage is very high with smartphone penetration of over 23 million and an estimated 150 million active subscriber lines in the country. 

Lastly, like many countries in Africa, Nigeria is not constrained by the legacy systems of the traditional banking industry, allowing for new technologies and solutions to fill the financial gap.

Irrational Innovations mapped out and analyzed the growing fintech ecosystem in Nigeria - consisting of over 50 companies with investments exceeding $200m in the last two years. 

Much like many other countries in Africa, Nigeria’s start-ups have developed effective payment and lending models; close to 37% of fintech startups in Nigeria fall into the categories of payments and remittances and 32% offer lending and financing. The remaining 31% of startups fall under a new generation of products and services that didn’t exist in the space before 2015. For example, NairaEx and NairaSwitch are two companies that allow users to buy and sell bitcoin. 

Casava aims to be the first company in Africa to offer peer to peer insurance to consumers (in a market where 86% of the population is uninsured). 

“Other relatively untapped sectors in the Nigerian fintech ecosystem, including wealth management, business solutions, savings, banking, and trading, provide unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors,” said Wolfson.

She added that in 2016, Interswitch became “Nigeria’s first fintech unicorn”, a payment processing company valued at over $1bn. 

“Additional multi-million dollar fintech companies are becoming common in the country,” she said.

“As the fintech space in Nigeria continues to flourish and investments grow, Nigeria may reach its fullest potential as one of the global leaders of the fintech space,” she added.

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Africa Global Funds (AGF) is a monthly magazine for asset management professionals and institutional investors worldwide interested in the African continent. AGF was created as a relevant and engaging resource that can provide readers with an insight of what is going on in the African asset management space. Drawing on an intense dialogue with a constantly expanding group of key decision-makers in the industry, we cover traditional and alternative asset classes of African asset management. From this dialogue we work hard to produce a compelling blend of hard news, incisive commentary, detailed sector and regional reports, exclusive interviews and proprietary data.

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