The Fintech companies in Nigeria were not immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the banking sector, the fintech sector was racked with the pain of loan defaults, low debt ratios, and low profits in the medium term.
Investments were not spared as interest in Fintech startups slowed down compared to previous years. According to reports, European venture-capital (VC) fintech funding dropped from $85 billion to $48 billion between March 2019 and March 2020.
However, banking in Nigeria remains attractive with over $9 billion in value pools, despite the challenges. Racing to respond to the challenges, Fintechs are now faster to market while possessing smaller and more agile teams, ready to support the shift to digital that is underway.
In 2019, the Nigerian Fintech space garnered one of the largest funding in the tech sector attracting about $122 million in funds.
From fintech startups like Carbon and Renmoney providing loans; Chaka and Bamboo offering investment in international stock markets; CowryWise and PiggyVest offering higher interest rates on savings and OPay, and Interswitch’s Quickteller providing Banking and USSD services; more and more fintech’s are developing enhanced propositions across the value chain to address pain points in the banking sector.
Based on Technext’s research, here are the top 5 Fintech startups in 2020 that are delivering innovative financial services, raising high amounts of funding and garnering market traction with partnerships and expansions.
Retaining its spot from last years ranking, Interswitch remains one of the top fintech companies in Africa. Founded by Mitchell Elegbe in 2002, the company has grown exponential to attain unicorn status.
The company is an Africa-focused integrated digital payments company that offers different financial products including point-of-sale terminals, online consumer payment platforms and its ATM card, Verve, to customers across 23 countries.
Taking the disappointment of its IPO in stride, Interswitch restarted its startup investment plan this year. The company’s Verve card achieved over 22 million activations and has subsequently expanded operations into new African countries.
Its payment platform, Quickteller has also been making great strides. According to fintech analyst, Frank Eleanya, Quickteller was the go-to platform for all online transactions during the COVID-19 lockdown. Currently, it has over 190,000 businesses transacting on its platform daily.
It has also entered partnerships with several local and international companies this year including American Express, UnionPay, Finastra and Credit Bank.
Flutterwave is one of the first fintech companies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company augmented its core payments business with the launch of Flutterwave Store, a portal that allows African merchants and SMEs to create digital shops to sell online.
As at November, the startup reported that its Store platform grew from 1,000 users in May to 5,000 in July. It presently has over 17,000 users.
Earlier in the year, the company raised a $35 million Series B round and has signed partnerships with local and international companies like Worldpay, Paga, Uber with Uber Cash, and RevoluGROUP Canada Inc.
Recently, the company started a payment protection service for shoppers on its platform. Its main payment service has over 65,000 merchants in 6 African countries and the United Kingdom.
Asides helping people pay and receive money, Flutterwave stood at the forefront of the EndSARS protest. It raised N12 million to be used for settling medical bills for those injured during the protests.
This year has been an exceptionally happy one for Paystack’s founders following the acquisitions of the startup for $200 Million by Stripe. Founded in 2015, the startup has grown to become a leading payment solution in Nigeria by helping businesses get paid by anyone, anywhere in the world.
Paystack has over 60,000 businesses using its payment solution
Apart from the acquisition, Paystack has achieved several milestones this year. The startup added a new business called Paystack Commerce which offers value-added services on invoicing, accounting integration and transaction dashboards to help SMEs stay organized. Since its launch this year, the platform has grown to have over 25,000 merchants onboarded unto its platform.
Also, the startup expanded operations to South Africa, offering payment solutions to businesses across the country. Nigeria and Ghana complete the 3 countries the company is actively operating in.
In addition to that, Paystack has visibly shown concern for the wellbeing of Nigerians. The startup supported the EndSARS campaign, donating N1 million to the Flutterwave Women’s Coalition fund to provide food, water, and first aid kits to protesters.
Kuda is a full-service digital-only bank with a banking license. Founded in 2018, the startup is designed to enable users to bank with their smartphones.
This year the online bank raised $10 Million, the largest ever seed round in Africa, to enhance its mobile-first services.
Earlier in the year, it introduced ‘Kuda for Web’ to provide enhanced functionality to its suite of online banking services. It also partnered with Lagos Food Bank to raise funds and distribute COVID-19 palliatives to people badly affected by the economic impacts of the pandemic in Lagos.
This year’s pandemic significantly affected the landscape of the Nigerian equity market. With the constant devaluation of the naira and current recession, many investors are diversifying their wealth by investing more in advanced economies like America.
Nigerian investment startup, Bamboo has played a significant role in making this possible. Frank Eleanya highlighted that Bamboo and Risevest are two top players in the space providing investors with a place to hedge their funds against the headwinds caused by the decline in the economy and naira in 2020.
Co-founded in 2019 by Richmond Bassey and Yanmo Omorogbe, Bamboo makes this possible by providing investors real-time access to invest or trade in over 3,500 stocks listed on the American and Nigerian exchanges.
This year, the investment startup raised over $300K in funding across 6 rounds involving prominent VC’s like Y Combinator and Future Africa. It has garnered over 40,000 downloads in the last five months alone.
Like Paystack and Flutterwave, Bamboo was one of the many tech startups that visibly supported the EndSARS campaign.
Despite the pandemic, several fintech startups had a good year. Asides the five listed above, there are other fintechs like PiggyVest and BuyCoins that also had a good year, surpassing several milestones.
In August, BuyCoins Africa crossed the $100-Million Trading Milestone, fueled by the bullish run of the price of most cryptocurrencies especially Bitcoin.
In general, fintech remains one of the most lucrative sector attracting investors in the country. The achievements of the fintech startups listed above show the impact big players have had this year.
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