The Founder, ReQuid Technologies, Felix Imafidon, in this interview speaks on the impact of technology on the financial market. Ugo Aliogo brings the excerpts:
ReQuid Technologies emerged runner up at the Zenith Tech Hackathon event. What does this award mean to your organisation?
For us, this is a great validation of our product, and the value that it has for our customers. When we launched our flagship product – reQuid.com – in private beta, about three months ago, the goal was to pilot our offering with 40 investors, get feedback from our customers, review and optimise the product, and scale for our target market. In less than two weeks, we were oversubscribed by 200 per cent. Barely, a month after, we participated in and won the Nigerian Stock Exchange X-Kathon, a hackathon designed by the stock exchange to identify start-ups like ours targeted at driving millennial participation in the capital market. Recognised by the stock exchange as a technology trail-blazer with significant contribution to the capital market, in a contest heavily contested by over 100 startups including the likes Trove, Investors Masterclass and Naya Finance, was a sign that we were getting something right. Crowning our milestone less than three months into our beta launch with this win at the Zenith Tech Hackathon is more than enough validation for us.
Undoubtedly, the Zenith Tech Hackathon has provided access to knowledge sharing, skill development, better investment opportunities for a lot of start-ups. How do you consolidate on these gains that the event offered you?
Yes, the gains of the Zenith Tech Hackathon were more than the prize money for us. There are key industry partnerships that we are already leveraging to scale what we are doing at reQuid, so we can reach more of our target market with our value proposition.
What is the market focus of your company in the fintech start-up space?
Our goal is to support our customers to live the quality of life they dream, by providing them with access to grow their wealth. We spent almost a year trying to better design a product that would benefit the average Nigeria who yearns to afford a certain kind of lifestyle, without leaving behind the low income earners.
Cyber security is one of the contending issues in the fintech industry. What have been the efforts of your organisation in tackling cyber-crime?
The safety of user data is critical to the success of our business. As a compliant company, we have relevant partnerships that ensure this. We neither collect nor store card information. Card payments are processed by our PCI-DSS compliant partners. Funds are safely managed by our Trustee, United Capital Trustees, a Securities and Exchange Commission regulated fiduciary institution. Sensitive data is securely stored in the cloud.
Can you give more insight into the ‘amazon for safe investments’ platform which you recently launched?
In the last couple of years, there has been growing attention and concern in the investment domain, especially with respect to alternative investments. With the rate of treasury bill dropping below four per cent recently, investors are seeking investment vehicles that would give them at least, rates at par with the current inflation rate at more than 11 per cent. Investment in agri-tech platforms like Thrive Agric, Farmcrowdy and Agropartnerships with effective yields of between 30 per cent and 60 per cent per annum are seemingly juicy to some investors, while to some others are simply high risk investments. At reQuid, what we know is that some of these companies are highly credible and their business models are sound and sustainable, and such yields are very much the benchmark globally for the model of similar agribusinesses. What have successfully done is design a risk assessment framework with which we assess these businesses – from profiling the founders and key drivers of the business, to assessing their business model and process, comparing their yield against standard benchmarks, carrying out farm visits to physically verify their teams, structure and processes, and validating their insurance and other risk mitigants. Agribusinesses who meet our benchmark are on-boarded on our platform for investors to take advantage of such opportunities.
What are the key technological innovations which your company is investing on and how are you using these innovations to improve service delivery in the financial services industry?
We are investing in risk technology, a decently new technology focus. Investment is all about risk, and we want to be able to use technology to support our investors in understanding, managing and likely leveraging that risk.
What is the goal of your company in area of investments and financing?
We just want to help our customers live that quality of life they have always dreamed of, by providing them with access to relevant solutions that can get them there.
What is your assessment of technology penetration in the capital and money market? Is there a need for improvement?
The capital and money market has seen a lot of technology-driven innovation in the last decade – from savings platforms to payment enablers. The penetration of technology in the capital market primarily regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may not be growing as fast as you have in the financial markets as regulated by the central bank. However, in the last few years, the commitment and support of the SEC to growth in the sector has spurred some of the penetration of technology in the sector. As a member of the SEC’s FinTech Roadmap, I am privy to a number of the upcoming initiatives designed to spur more innovation in the financial and capital markets, and I can say that this decade will see even more innovation and room for technology startups to disrupt the sector.