Nigeria’s fastest growing agency banking provider, E-Settlement, has partnered Seriate Limited, a Tech focused investment company to acquire and deploy up to 20,000 pieces of Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) within the next 12 months in Nigeria.
This was disclosed during an agreement signing ceremony between the two companies on Monday, November 12th in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Olaoluwa Awojoodu, the CEO and Co-founder of E-Settlement, described the partnership as an extremely good opportunity for E-Settlement to quickly grow into the largest agent banking platform in Nigeria. He said the company which himself and three of his colleagues started has been growing at over 200% in transactions, year on year.
He said “when we launched PayCentre in 2016, we processed over N3.2bn in transactions. The following year, that number sky rocketed to N20.5bn as we continued to deploy devices. This year, by the end of October, we have already crossed N60 billion in transaction. I believe, we will close the year with over N70 billion in transaction with under 2,000devices.”
Olaoluwa also noted that agency banking is one of the best ways to bank the unbanked in the country. He said with under 6,000 bank branches in the whole country and less than 20,000 ATM machines, 70% of which are in Lagos, it is difficult to serve a population of almost 200 million people mostly living in the rural areas.
On his part, the Chairman of Seriate, Kabiru Rabiu, who is also a Group Executive Director of Bua Group, a leading Nigerian conglomerate, described the partnership as an exciting opportunity to stimulate financial inclusion in the Nigerian economy. Rabiu said that “the founders and management of E-Settlement have demonstrated that they have the capacity to grow the business into the largest agent banking company in Nigeria and indeed one of the largest in the world. I see a company that has a potential to be processing more than a trillion Naira in transaction in the next few years; majority of which will be from the rural areas and that for me, is very impacting” he concludes.
Seriate is also one of the investors in E-Settlement.
PayCentre started agency banking operations/activities in 2016 as the main business unit of E-Settlement Limited. The founders of the platform, Olaolu Awojoodu, Lolade Akinsete, Ayobami Oduwole and Razaq Jinad have been active in the Nigerian Fintech space since 2009, participating on several fintech solutions. PayCentre is today operational in 24 States across the Nation and provide services that include cash in, cash out, fund transfer, bill payments, account opening with new services being on-boarded every month including the ability to transact without internet connectivity as one of its new features. The platform currently has about 1,300 active agents spread across the Nation.
E-Settlement has in the past attracted investment from both local and international funds and investors. Among its investors are Green House Capital, U-Africa of South Africa, Venture Kinetics and Seriate Limited.
Financial inclusion has recently been a buzz word in the Nigerian financial sector given the increasing number of the unbanked and underbanked persons in the country. Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA)’s 2016 survey of the Nigerian Access to Financial Services revealed alarming statistics. The report revealed that out of the total adult population (18 years and above) of 96.4 million Nigerians, 59.6 million or 61.9% are based in the rural areas. Only 38.3% of the total are banked, while about 20% are either informally or otherwise financially served. However, over 40 million of Nigerian adult population or 42% of them are completely financially excluded as at 2016, according to the well-respected industry survey.
Looking more closely, the report indicated that out of the 22 million adult population in the North West, more than 70% of such adults are financially excluded (the largest adult unbanked region in the country); compared to 18% of the financially excluded 21 million adults of the South West.
The economic viability of setting up a physical bank branch in many locations within the country has continued to weaken due to initial and concurrent cost structures especially in the remote and rural areas. For this reason, the Nigerian Apex bank has been encouraging different banking solutions aimed at leveraging technology with lower cost profile to serve the unbanked population.
Going into the future, it is clear that the Nigerian financial sector is rapidly gravitating towards more technology-based providers to reach those unbanked or underserved and the investment community is going with them.
In the second half of this year alone, at least 3 Nigerian fintech have attracted investment capital from both local and international reputable investors. Companies like Visa and MasterCard have invested millions of dollars into names like Paystack, Paga and Flutterwave.
It is expected that Seriate’s partnership with E-Settlement will make an impact on Nigeria’s financial inclusion and may create a faster momentum in the rapidly evolving financial sector.