In 2011, the Nigerian authorities launched a monetary inclusion initiative and set a goal to incorporate 80% of the nation’s grownup inhabitants. Though solely a goal of 64% was met by the tip of the last decade, one optimistic from the train is that attaining monetary inclusion throughout the nation continues to be a steady course of that has seen fintechs participate alongside banks in recent times.
Agency banking upstarts are the principle innovators on this house. Their branchless banking system, which incorporates 1000’s of bodily brokers, gives monetary companies to the unbanked and underbanked in rural and semi-urban areas. NowNow Digital Systems, one such platform launched in 2018, has raised $13 million in a seed spherical that can permit the four-year-old startup to scale and increase its service choices throughout Africa.
When CEO Sahir Berry and his co-founder Mahesh Nair based NowNow in 2016, they needed to offer options to monetary inclusion and job creation, two of essentially the most important ache factors they thought had been dealing with Nigeria and the remainder of the continent. In accordance with Berry, in partnership with a international third-party associate, NowNow launched a cell pockets in late 2017 however quickly realized it wanted to construct out its tech, which set the stage for going to market the next yr. “Doing that and constructing our proprietary IP ourselves modified our enterprise,” the chief govt mentioned. “So beginning, we supplied digital banking options to shoppers and companies. However right this moment, we’re quick changing into an embedded finance platform.”
NowNow claims to have constructed an end-to-end ecosystem of economic merchandise catering to brokers, particular person shoppers and small companies. Its flagship product, just like different company banking platforms resembling OPay, TeamApt, and Nomba, includes over 50,000 brokers throughout the nation who present Nigerians monetary companies like sending and receiving cash and paying payments. The fintech additionally has a consumer-facing product the place folks can ship and obtain cash, pay payments and entry value-added companies resembling insurance coverage and lending by way of a debit card and a pockets in an app. The service is offered to customers with smartphones and have telephones; nonetheless, for the latter, they would wish to go to brokers to entry different companies, mentioned Berry. Related digital banking suppliers on this section embrace the likes of Kuda, Carbon and FairMoney.
In accordance with Berry, NowNow needs to set itself other than the competitors with the event of NFC-enabled tech that can permit tap-in performance inside its ecosystem of merchandise the place customers can use digital or bodily playing cards towards an NFC-enabled cellphone or POS and faucet from pockets to pockets utilizing two telephones. This product has been made obtainable to some small companies to check in a pilot section. Alternatively, NowNow sometimes gives these SMEs with a business-in-a-box platform with instruments and value-added companies resembling a storefront and a market.
“It’s an end-to-end built-in platform for SMEs, together with logistics and we’re the primary firm in Nigeria to offer such an end-to-end platform,” mentioned Berry. Going past that, as a result of we’ve constructed all this expertise and personal the IP for it, we’ve additionally turn into a BaaS firm offering our product to a number of fintechs in Nigeria and Africa. We even have famend monetary establishments that use our merchandise to supply a white-label resolution to their prospects. In order that mitigates the danger in that we’re taking part in within the client and the B2B house.”
NowNow is focusing on 5,000 SMEs with its business-in-a-box resolution, together with the NFC-enabled tech, by yr’s finish. On the buyer aspect of issues, the fintech claims to serve as much as 200,000 prospects; it hopes to extend that quantity to 1 million by December. “We’re on monitor to transact a GMV of about $5 billion by the tip of this yr throughout all platforms,” Berry added.
With the newly secured funds, NowNow plans to develop its platform, workforce and advertising and marketing for the size the corporate is “now able to embrace.” The fintech, lately chosen to participate in the Mastercard Start Path Global program for seed, Sequence A and later-stage startups, additionally needs to introduce new merchandise to reinforce its current client banking, company banking, and service provider cost options and increase into African nations that fintechs from Nigeria hardly ever transfer to: Angola and Liberia.
“We need to work in nations the place we discover that the infrastructure is paralyzed and requires fintech to step in and see what options might be supplied to unravel the state of affairs. Angola is a type of locations the place we discovered that the digital cost house is fairly far behind and we would launch there over the subsequent month. Liberia is one other nation the place we’re gearing as much as set operations.”
The seed spherical welcomed participation from a number of companies, together with lead traders Dubai-based enterprise capital agency and studio NeoVision Ventures, India-based DLF Household Workplace and Shadi Abdulhadi.