LSETF, VISA Commit N3.5m to Drive CBN’s Cashless Initiative

Emma Okonji

The cashless economy initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which seeks to promote financial inclusion in Nigeria, received boost in Lagos, when the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and Visa provided support worth over N3.5 million to winners of the second edition of its Cashless Lagos Hackathon.

The teams, which include Team Blended, Team Maverick, and Team LagosPay were presented with a check of N2 million, N1.5 million and N500, 000 respectively for taking the top three positions.

LSETF officials said the hackathon is in line with the Lagos State’s commitment to encourage and support the tech ecosystem in the state. The trust fund has so far issued N80 million workspace vouchers to 50 startups. It plans to issue 25 more before the end of the year.

The Cashless Lagos Hackthon was launched by Visa in partnership with Lagos Innovates – an initiative of LSETF, and Passion Incubator with the objective of creating technology based financial solutions to help Lagos MSMEs carry out daily cashless transactions.

There were seven teams that competed for the grand prize of N2 million. The teams – Akuk, Blended, Eko Wallet, Tradekiosk, Lagos Pay, Mavericks, and Cashbox – had an opportunity to meet and interview five loan beneficiaries from LSETF. During the interview they were able to learn some of the payment challenges faced by the small business owners. With the knowledge, each of them went to build a solution around it.

Addressing journalists after the cheque presentation, the Executive Secretary of LSETF, Akin Oyebode, said: “The Hackthon is designed to solve problems around cash management for small businesses. What we have done here is that we brought our beneficiaries – five women who are beneficiaries of our loan program – we brought them to see how we can use technology to improve their business. Over the course of this weekend the seven teams have listened to them, interviewed them and have gone to create solutions to help solve some problems they have identified, especially relating to receiving payments and going cashless.”

Although the selected ideas from the start-ups were still prototype solutions, the organisers, however, expect that the winning teams will go ahead with the guidance of mentors to translate them into real products that have market value. Oyebode noted the presence of bank executives at the hackathon who were also interested in seeing how they can support the roll out of the solutions to their own customers, would further encourage banks to support SMEs in developing solutions that will further drive the cashless economy initiative of the CBN.

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