With ReniTrust payment solution, e-commerce is safe, easy —Ayodele, founder of FireSwitch Technologies
Olusegun Ayodele is a techpreneur and Founder of FireSwitch Technologies. In this interview with KINGSLEY ALUMONA, he speaks on his entrepreneurial journey, and ReniTrust, a new payment solution, that makes online money transfer safe and easy.
You studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering. What motivated your interest in entrepreneurship and fintech?
My motivation is problem-solving. In fact, my choice of electrical electronic engineering is the ability to stay relevant in every field of Engineering. I had known, all along, that I want to create things and coupled with my inquisitive nature, it was natural that I chase any environment that lets me create limitlessly.
During my university days, I realised software development was a more convenient place for me in comparison with hardware—hence, my venture into computer programming in the first place.
Fintech is the new oil for growth championed by the private sector. Over the years, it has simplified how we pay for goods, send money from point to point, and access financial services outside Nigeria. My motivation for venturing into Fintech is, since the internet became a big deal, many businesses were built on it which includes e-commerce. E-commerce came with its challenges, which is mainly centred on payments and trust. I am very interested in proffering solution to these challenges. Entrepreneurship births innovation, built on creativity and problem solving. As an individual that believes in value creation and problem solving, entrepreneurship comes natural. My goal is to create systems, products and build individuals that solve problems.
You are the founder of FireSwitch Technologies. Briefly tell us the company and what it is offering?
FireSwitch Technologies is a software company in the city of Ibadan. Armed with a skilful team of software developers, web developers, mobile developers, brand strategists, business analysts, content developers, graphics and UI/UX designers, we help solve business problems with the use of digital technology.
We serve people and organisations across a very broad spectrum, helping individuals and companies bring to life their ideas, concepts and/or solutions. We’ve an academy where we train people on soft skills of front-end, back-end mobile development and branding and design.
We understand that the world is going digital and every business is harnessing the potency of technology, knowing that hiring a full IT/Tech team which comes with its financial and resources commitments. We came up with our outsourcing system where we consult for businesses and organisations, providing them with all they need technology-wise. The importance of this is that we play in the tech space and we know what is new and what is obsolete. So, we can advise properly and provide insights from research.
Your company recently launched a fintech solution called ReniTrust. What inspired this solution and how does it work?
ReniTrust is an escrow system, in the business of providing trust between buyers and sellers. I’ve at different times been a victim of internet financial fraud. In my experience so far, it appears that consumers in Nigeria are largely not as protected as the merchants which also metamorphosis into distrust between buyers and sellers. This contributed to the difficulty the e-commerce industry faces today. I decided to do something about it instead of just complaining and that’s how ReniTrust was born.
How it works is, if Mr A (buyer) is buying a pair of shoes from Mr B (seller), Mr B initiates a contract on ReniTrust comprising all the details of the transaction in question that binds him and Mr A. Mr A makes the payment to Mr B on the platform but Mr B only gets access to the funds when Mr A indicates he has got the shoes and is satisfied, as the money remains in escrow till all conditions of delivery are fulfilled.
Every transaction is seen as a contract between two people with ReniTrust at the middle, objectively making sure all the terms of the contract are honoured before money changes hands.
Why should people care about ReniTrust? And which category of people is the solution suited for?
ReniTrust is the trust turn-key solution to the missing ingredient of internet transaction in Africa which is TRUST.
One of the advantages of the platform is its return policy. Buyers can return goods and get their money back. Every transaction has actions and a dispute can be opened by either party. This protects buyers as well as sellers, giving buyers the needed trust and confidence to transact online through ReniTrust.
ReniTrust is for everyone that buys or sells on the internet. ReniTrust was born to function at the core of commerce in Nigeria and Africa at large. We believe with the success of ReniTrust, everyone will feel safe to transact on the internet.
How does ReniTrust differ from Paystack, Paga and the like? And how do you intend to deal with competition from similar solutions?
ReniTrust, beyond being a payment solution for the exchange of goods and services, seeks to protect buyers and provides a value system for sellers on the internet.
For competition, we believe in collaboration. We’ve a philosophy of taking feedbacks, learning and understanding how to solve the problem better, integrating and collaborating with key stakeholders in the industry to better serve people. With our culture of research and development, we believe we’ve the responsibility to always be ahead of the curve.
These days, cryptocurrency (digital money) is one of the popular ways for e-commerce in Nigeria. Does ReniTrust accommodate digital money transactions?
At launch, people will be able to exchange cryptocurrencies on the platform. The cryptocurrency holder will create the contract for the naira holder to put his money in escrow, while the holder of the cryptocurrency transfers his digital currency for confirmation by the other party.
It’s true that digital currencies are the future centrepiece of commerce, and we know this. So, we’ve plans to accommodate it. Currently we’re working on some partnerships to enable cryptocurrency while working on our own blockchain system.
How safe is RentiTrust from cyber fraud and hackers? And, do you need any approval from the federal government to use RentiTrust in Nigeria’s business spaces?
We’ve explored cryptography and blockchain for security on the platform. We believe the platform is safe and secure. However, we’ve the culture of always improving from data gathered.
Right now, we don’t process card payments ourselves. So, we don’t, at the moment, need a license. But we’ve plans in the nearest future to acquire a license to be able to directly process payments.
Briefly tell us about your logistics subsidiary, and how it works?
Oh yes. During the pandemic of 2020, we discovered that people moved goods, and more remotely, which opened an opportunity for delivery companies that do pickups and drop offs. We saw that not many logistics business can afford the luxury of owning a solution that makes it easy for its client to order for its services. So, we designed and developed the FireSwitch logistics software for small, medium and large enterprises.
The plan is to provide companies with the leverage to offer their clients the luxury of the convenience of pick-ups, drop offs and better business insight, marketing, cash-flow and feedbacks about their business through data analysis.
If you were the minister of communications and digital economy, how would you leverage technology to support start-ups and SMEs?
On policy making, I’ll push for policies that drive a national digital agenda that creates the natural environment for innovation in the digital space, encourage government agencies and departments to truly go digital.
Another thing is that start-ups in this digital space will be encouraged by simplifying licensing where necessary, incentivised by addressing double taxation.
Thirdly, in my capacity, I’ll address infrastructural issues, like power, and internet plaguing the industry. I’ll sponsor campaigns enlightening security agencies on how to protect legitimate digital and internet entrepreneurs, as they contribute hugely to the GDP and economy of the country.
What major challenges did your company face in 2020? And how would you manage these challenges this year?
The lockdown affected our academy, as it was a physical one. Students could not come to the academy physically. ASUU strike made it difficult for our academy to reach out to the student community, as most students were at home. Exchange rate was another challenge we faced. Naira lost value and we had to pay more for services outside Nigeria. One of the ways we handled the season was going virtual, conforming quickly and adjusting our operations, especially at the academy.
Another is that we identified opportunities in the chaotic period of the COVID-19 menace, which is how we came up with the logistics software to help delivery businesses operate seamlessly and access a wider market.
We started accepting digital currencies, which helped us spend less naira for foreign services. In the end, we fared better than most part of the year.
What is your advice to young or budding entrepreneurs who are aspiring to be like you?
I believe in problem-solving. I believe every young entrepreneur should grow the culture of solving problems and learn to communicate with the market place. It’s true that people don’t buy for the same reason we build solutions. So it’s important to learn communication skills as we build.
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