By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Owners of an online and mobile app savings platform targeted at African Millennials, Piggybank.ng, have announced closing seed funding of $1.1 million from high net worth individuals led by founder of LeadPath Nigeria, Mr Olumide Soyombo, with participation from international and pan-African investors Village Capital and Ventures Platform.
In a statement made available to Business Post yesterday, the Nigerian start-up company said it would deploy the VC investment for license acquisition and product development.
Piggybank.ng has recorded 20-35 percent month-on-month growth in user traction over the past 12 months; primarily from peer-to-peer recommendations, its referral program – Piggybank Stories, and grass-roots social media campaigns.
The start-up plans to also invest in additional marketing spend to accelerate its growth trajectory.
Having completed accelerator programs with Blackbox, the CcHub’s Pitch Drive, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, and Google Launchpad Africa, Piggybank.ng has built a savings community of over 53,000 registered users of which approximately 60 percent are Nigerian Millennials, who have saved in excess of $5 million, with a savings growth of 3000 percent between 2016-17.
Founded in 2016 by Somto Ifezue, Odunayo Eweniyi and Joshua Chibueze, graduates of Covenant University, Nigeria, Piggybank.ng is positioned to fill a void for tens of millions of Nigerians, who have no access to credit, in a country where up to two years’ rent is often required upfront to secure a home.
Targeting low-middle income savers in Nigeria, of which there are 26.5 million with a market size of $2.2 billion, the fintech start-up is an automated savings platform where savers manage their finances by depositing small amounts of money [starting from as little as $1/day] on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, depending on their saving target, free of charge.
Savers can expect to earn on average 6 percent per annum on automated savings or 10.95 percent per annum on the fixed deposit product, Safelock and can withdraw funds once per quarter.
Piggybank.ng generates its revenues through asset management, which currently stands at 5-7 percent.
According to Odunayo Eweniyi, co-founder and COO of Piggybank.ng, “In a country such as Nigeria, almost everything has to be paid in advance. The majority of Nigerians struggle to save their income, manage cash flow and build credit, which is a huge problem as around 80 percent of Nigerians need to save a minimum of 40 percent of their monthly income, in order to survive.
“This is the sheer scale of the challenge we are embracing; to actively promote a savings culture in Nigeria and act as the savings infrastructure to millions of people who want a safe, transparent and innovative platform to assist them in managing their finances, on their journeys to financial freedom.”
Also commenting, Joshua Chibueze, co-founder and CMO of Piggybank said, “Today’s (Thursday) announcement allows us to expand and capitalise on the many opportunities that the market presents us with.
“Our growth so far has been stimulated almost entirely by peer-to-peer advocacy and our investment in the highest quality customer service, so we know the market is there, and the product has been built, modified, tested and ratified by users.
“With this fundraise, we can invest significantly in our people and products, as we build a digital financial warehouse accessible to millions of Africans whose savings woes we want to put firmly behind them.”
Olumide Soyombo, Co-Founder Leadpath adds: “Piggybank.ng is a leading example of how Africans are innovating to solve African problems. In this case, the team is applying technology and innovation to solve a problem facing millions of Nigerians; how can they accrue enough money to make down-payments on so many ‘life events’, in a market where there’s little to no access to credit?
“Led by a solid and experienced executive team, who have recorded significant growth after two years of bootstrapping, and have built a product that is ready to scale, I’m excited to have led other local angel investors this investment round, and to now work closely with the team to grow the platform”
In addition to securing its seed funding of $1.1 million, Piggybank.ng recently acquired a micro-financing license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which provides the relevant regulatory cover, allowing them independence from partnering with banks.
This month, the company will be expanding its product range to include Smart Target, a group savings tool, that can be scaled from family-size to large corporations, based on the age-long West African tradition of ajo or esusu (savings in the local parlance) to leverage the power of communal savings and harness the network effect of accountability.
Available on iOS and Android, Piggybankers save an average of N20,000 per month (about $55) and in contrast to conventional bank savings accounts, the platform restricts withdrawals until an agreed date or users can withdraw their savings on a quarterly basis, whereby savings drawn outside of the agreed day attract a 5 percent early withdrawal fee.
A recent survey conducted by Piggybank.ng, which saw 5,000+ responses, revealed that the top 5 areas Nigerians are saving for include investments, starting a business, rent and unforeseen circumstances e.g health and vacations.
Co-founder and CEO of the firm, Somto Ifezue, stated that, “The research reveals that our savers are hardworking, focussed, and serious about reaching their savings goals. Already, we are seeing thousands of our users reaping the benefits of addressing their financial future by weaving Piggybank.ng into their daily lives, making it a savings ritual. We’re looking forward to helping thousands more in the coming months and years reach their financial goals”.
Verve Backs Effective Digitization of Public Identity System
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
One of the leading payments companies in Nigeria, Verve, has reaffirmed its support for the digitization of public identity system, stressing that the nation would benefit greatly from this.
The firm, which is a champion of digitized identity management solutions, said it was strongly behind the federal government’s efforts to create a robust digitization framework for comprehensive identity management for Nigerians.
The Nigerian government ramped up its digital identity management campaign to ensure a proper and foolproof identification system, as obtained in most countries across the globe.
In 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) joined the coalition calling for the recognition of September 16 as International Identity Day to further consolidate its target of a comprehensive digital identity management system
According to the NIMC, the digital identity ecosystem includes players in both the private and public sectors to improve the commission’s reach across the nation.
Players in the sectors include qualified private vendors who will provide data collection services and issue National Identification Number (NIN) under the National Identity Management System (NIMS) programme.
The commission seeks to enrol all Nigerians and legal residents in a centralized identity database, with the aim of creating an authentication channel that would foster seamless and safe local and foreign transactions.
Verve as a provider of safe and seamless payment solutions, through its technology framework, possesses the expertise and capacity to provide contemporary digitized identification solutions. This positions Verve as a suitable partner in the ongoing public identity digitization drive, providing structures that will advance the goals of the NIMC.
Marking this year’s National Identity Day at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Divisional Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) for Payment Cards and Digital Tokens, Interswitch Group, Vincent Ogbunude, restated the firm’s commitment towards supporting a digital ecosystem in tandem with the aims of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
Ogbunude said, “Verve is proud to be supporting the federal government on this project. This partnership underpins our commitment and investment to grow the digital identity management system in Nigeria. At Interswitch we understand the critical place for identity, indeed we believe that a person’s identity is a fundamental human right that should not be trifled with.”
Emphasizing the importance of having an identity management database for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and the 7th most populous nation in the world, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said that a comprehensive identity database was important in identifying the total number of residents in the country.
He also noted that a digitized identity management system would aid the government in crafting a proper national budget to better cater to the needs of Nigerians.
The minister pointed out that the digital national identification exercise would serve as a convenient substitute for frequent census exercises, “if the database is updated”.
Data Science Nigeria Unveils AI Startup Incubation Hub
By Sodeinde Temidayo David
Leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) hub, Data Science Nigeria (DSN), has announced the launch of the country’s first AI Startup Incubation and Research Centre.
The launch also included a bespoke AI Startup Summit which was themed Building Nigeria’s Artificial Intelligence Unicorns, under the topic titled How to build scalable startups leveraging AI and exponential technologies.
With the launch of the new AI startup incubation hub, the organization is set to promote its vision to build a world-class AI, knowledge research and innovation ecosystem that would deliver high-impact transformational research.
Speaking at the event, the founder and lead mentor of Data Science, Mr Olubayo Adekanmbi, expressed that the dominant fact remains that artificial intelligence is a big game-changer, and is going to change how unicorns of the future will emerge.
This follows research by PwC, a global consulting firm, which noted that AI can contribute as much as $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
According to Mr Adekanmbi, AI has the potential to boost the global GDP by 16 per cent. With this, he noted the need to support the local AI start-ups to become world-class unicorns of tomorrow.
The lunch featured other startups like Data Vault, Vooli, Farm Speak, Snark Health, Kitovu, Stedigital, Adeseko Technology Limited, Tech Semester, Archer, Freestyle Journal, Tech Oga, and CrossVu Digital.
As part of the value proposition to the successful startups that were embraced into the incubation programme, startups will be taken through an immersive and enriching experience that involves entrepreneurship training, technical support, access to markets, free workstation, networking, mentorship, and access to financial opportunities.
Present at the unveiling were key stakeholders in the technology space, including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Future Africa, Mr Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, who commended the organization for the initiative, noting that it’s one of the organizations that are building the future in a very practical sense.
On her part, the head, Lagos Innovates (Startups), Ms Ireayo Oladunjoye, also commended DSN on behalf of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and Lagos Innovates.
In her words, “we are glad to continue to support and collaborate with DSN and the AI Startup Lab in supporting the Technology ecosystem.”
Data Science Nigeria has trained, mentored and inspired 100,000 Nigerian undergraduates and graduates to build new skills in advanced analytics, data science and create one million jobs and opportunities in data science, including advanced analytics.
Twitter Integrates Bitcoin Payment Feature
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
Popular micro-blogging app, Twitter, has announced that it will roll out the ‘Tips feature’ that will allow users to get paid in Bitcoin on the social network.
This is a sequel to the introduction of Tip Jar, a recently added feature on the bird app that makes it easy for users to send money to their favourite creators on the micro-blogging service using third-party apps, including Cash App, Patreon, Venmo, Chipper, Bandcamp, Razorpay, GoFundMe, PicPay, and Wealthsimple Cash — depending on their region — to their Twitter bios and individual Tweets to receive funds.
Disclosing the twitter-bitcoin integration, the company on Thursday said that its Tips feature will now roll out globally to all Apple iOS users this week and will become available for Android users in the coming weeks.
According to the company, the new feature will also allow users to add their bitcoin address to send and receive these cryptocurrency tips.
It added that no cut of the money is taken from any money sent through its Tips feature.
“We want everyone on Twitter to have access to pathways to get paid. Digital currencies that encourage more people to participate in the economy and help people send each other money across borders and with as little friction as possible — help us get there,” the product lead manager of the company, Mrs Esther Crowford said.
With over 330 million monthly active users, Twitter’s integrated Strike bitcoin lighting wallet service is little or no surprise, given that its CEO, Mr Jack Dorsey, is one of the most vocal supporters and endorses the adoption of the cryptocurrency.
Mr Dorsey had previously hinted that a BTC tipping option was being developed when the social media firm revealed its “Tip Jar” concept was designed to enable platform users to reward content creators with the touch of a button.
He has also discussed his other company, Square’s plans to build a decentralized exchange for Bitcoin.
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