Treading unfamiliar waters

Two Nigerian Fintech Rivals And One Sudden Strange Appetite For North Africa

By  |  February 7, 2021

Job cuts, furloughs, pay cuts, cash crunch, budget chops, abandoned plans. Those were the recurring themes across the global business landscape for much of last year as Covid rocked the world.

Huge conglomerates, big corporates, small startups; no one was spared. But somehow a pair of Nigeria-based fintech companies (both of which appear to be mirroring and competing with each other at the same time), ate good in the midst of the chaos that 2020 was.

The first Covid-enforced lockdown that happened in Nigeria between March and April kept businesses shuttered for weeks. This meant banks were closed, and that resulted in a situation where people turned to agent networks (or agency banking) like never before.

SANEF says agent transactions rose by 859 percent during the first lockdown in March/April 2020. And even though the restrictions have since been relaxed, the volume and value of mobile money transactions, as well as the number of mobile money agents, have continued to spike. 

In a twisted way, the pandemic actually created a boon time for players in Nigeria’s mobile money scene -- such as OPay and TeamApt, both of which are aggressively chasing agency banking as an afterthought, technically.

And now it seems these same two startups have eyes for one new prize. Only that the newest conquest that has caught their fancy is a tricky target that will probably require both fintechs to put in twice the work for half the wow, or something like that.

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