With the financial technology (Fintech) industry being one of the fastest growing in Nigeria, Kashbase, a digital saving and investment platform which caters to the financial needs of thousands of Nigerians, is regarded as a stakeholder in the space. CEO and co-founder of Kashbase, Olamide Olayinka, speaks with KOLA MUHAMMED on the growth of the Fintech industry, effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, impact of recent economic policies and struggles for funding, among other issues.
What are the gaps in Nigeria’s financial sector that warranted the necessity of your business?
It is worth pointing out that a staggering 60 per cent of Nigeria’s adult population does not have access to financial services. More so, the cost structure of the Nigerian banking system is an expensive one. There is high interest on loans, multiple charges etc., and this expensive system makes it near impossible for customers to get meaningful value on financial products like savings, credit and investment. Kashbase moved in to provide Nigerians and SMEs easy access to a broad range of financial services, with focus especially on the underserved portion of the population. Through our mobile app, we have been able to help people save and invest their money and also help SMEs with access to credit. People are assured of meaningful value on financial products.
The pandemic has affected a lot of businesses across sectors. How has Kashbase been affected, positive or negative?
The pandemic affected everyone and we’ve also had our own share of the good, the bad and the ugly. This period has been a tale of human ingenuity and adaptability for us. It has helped us reach our customers better, probe for relevant information and present the information in a systematic manner that yields faster and better results.
For a financial and investment platform, what does the current economic trend bode for you and the fintech industry at large?
It is true that we are in the middle of a global economic crisis, largely triggered by the novel coronavirus, and it is very different from the 2008 financial crisis in a unique way. Unlike 2008’s when big banks and financial corporations were at the root of the crisis, they are currently perceived as captains at sea to help us navigate the current economic turbulence. Likewise, fintech companies, which are non-bank technology companies that offer financial services, are perceived the same way. These are unusual times and the pandemic is causing everyone to have a rethink of all that is familiar. The silver lining therefore is that, like every other fintech company, we are typically a platform that operates online and this allows us to continue to run seamlessly in the remote-work environment while providing financial access and inclusion that is so critical at this time. As such, for us as a business, we can play an important role of administering recovery from this economic downturn.
Every business is believed to have a unique selling point. What stands you out from competitors in your industry?
Users’ needs are always changing. Today, your customers want to sell, tomorrow, they want to buy. Customers want to do more and while a lot of solutions out there merely allow customers to save and invest, our platform allows users to do more than just that. In addition to that, our platform also caters to small businesses. We offer these businesses financial products and services and have created a system to bank them.
Recent laws appear to be stringent towards financial drivers and stakeholders. What is the implication for your business and any reaction going forward?
Laws and regulations are indispensable to the proper function of economies and societies. They are the ‘rules of the game’ for the government, businesses and citizens. As much as they do that, they should also ensure market growth, protection of the rights and safety of citizens and ensure the delivery of public goods and services. Hence, the posture at all times must be to enable innovation, allow experimentation and the freedom to try new things because innovation can’t be forced, but it can be revoked.
Fintechs appear to have been getting more funds from international organisations. How would you describe local support (public and private) for growing businesses?
This question brings to mind Kola Aina’s 2018 TED talk entitled ‘Who will own our future unicorns’. Everything he said then holds true today. I believe we need to do more in the area of enabling, investing and supporting local startups in order to achieve accelerated development in our country. Local financiers should rethink the existing structure/system and bet more on upstarts. Charity they say begins at home.
What are the biggest lessons you have learnt since venturing into fintech business?
In any business at all, never run out of money, money keeps the business running. Understand that there is compounding value in focus and it is also important to submerge yourself to serve something greater.
The relationship between a founder and co-founder, especially in the tech space, is one which can make or mar a venture. How do you get along with your co-founder?
My co-founder is my friend and brother. Friends are formed in the place of shared experiences and we have had plenty of that. We attended the same university and initially started a digital agency. We share similar passion for success and because of the history that we have had, it is not difficult to get along. He understands the business and has a very clear understanding of the company and its vision.
For someone with a psychology degree, what attracted you to the fintech industry?
I think it is the power of association and relationships. Growing up, I have had the rarest opportunity and blessing of crossing paths with some amazing individuals and brilliant minds who continue to challenge me to do more. One of them is the Yinka Adewale of Kudi. What people around me continue to achieve spurs me to be better and scale greater heights in business.
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