Odukoya-Ijogun: Understanding Brand’s Essence Key to Business Growth 

The Vice President- Brand, Marketing and Communications, Nomba, Caroline Toluwani Odukoya-Ijogun, in this interview with Raheem Akingbolu, speaks on recent developments in the financial sector and how fintech is redefining the sector through enhancement of cashless policy and payment system

Can you explain the rationale behind the rebrand from Kudi to Nomba. Specifically, what’s in the name change, what does the brand Nomba stand for?

With the transition and evolution of our business, came the need to ensure we have a name and an identity that’s all our own and cannot be confused with anything or anyone else.  Our name change is not a random thing. It is something that we carefully arrived at.  Nomba is a play on the word, ‘Number’. It comes from the understanding that our daily lives are inundated with numbers and figures and having a firm grasp of those numbers keeps us in control. In business this cannot be over-emphasised; it is all about numbers; you must know your numbers and be able to leverage them. That’s why we are here. We are here to help our customers, and I must hasten to say our customers are everyone- from the micro-retailer to the big multinationals; our solution will help them stay on top of their numbers and on top of the game.

Can you shed more light on the brand and its operations?

While the name Nomba may still be new, our presence in the market dates all the way back to 2017 as a chatbot designed to simplify payment. In 2018 it evolved into a company whose distinct point of sale (POS) technology, partnerships with banks and other licensed financial institutions democratized access to banking products and services for merchants across Nigeria. This also includes core banking solutions such as opening savings accounts and loans. Today, there are over 150,000 businesses on the Nomba platform enabled to carry out card, cash and bank transfer related transactions for their own businesses and on behalf of their customers. With an onboarding rate of over 10,000 new businesses monthly, Nomba currently processes over $16m in payments daily across more than 500,000 unique transactions.

Today, payments in the retail sector in Nigeria are largely offline with over 25 million merchants yet to accept any form of digital payments. Many of the retail businesses who do accept digital payments lack a unified platform to seamlessly manage their businesses across multiple touch-points and locations. From payment collection, to trade financing, to intelligent business reporting, and even multiple location management, businesses largely depend on traditional financial services who do not provide the ecosystem of services that support their businesses. With Nomba, they have all of this on one platform and this truly makes a difference and simplifies their payments and operations. We expect more than a 100 percent growth of the businesses on our platform by the end of the year. Ambitious I know, but we are making the appropriate investments particularly in people to help us achieve this. Harnessing their experience and expertise, we will accelerate our expansion across the country ensuring that over 350,000 businesses are equipped with all the tools required to run their businesses seamlessly, by the end of the year.

What is Nomba offering to Nigeria and beyond?

Our vision is to enable economic prosperity by supercharging businesses that are the lifeblood of any economy, to meet their goals by helping them optimise their operations. At Nomba we offer an integrated experience to businesses on our platform. Our offering is a collection of business and payment tools designed through our 5 service lines- our omnichannel acquiring, agency banking, savings [Wealth management], credit and cash collection businesses.  All of these come together to build a unique business banking experience to facilitate the success of the medium and small businesses that we serve. This is what differentiates us. So we are with our customers through their whole business journey – before, during and after every transaction. We are partnering with everyone to grow and succeed.

SMEs/Informal sector form a huge chunk of Nigerians; while the World Bank says there are about 400 million unbanked Africans, and this includes women and rural populations. How are you taking care of them?

We are ensuring that even these people you described have access to multiple channels to receive payments. Currently a lot of small businesses are losing out on income because they do not have the means to receive all sorts of payments. Someone goes to the lady who sells roasted plantain with a debit card and she asks him to please go get cash. If he really wants the plantain, he will go to get cash but if he stumbles on another seller right beside the POS kiosk or ATM, he is unlikely to go back to the original plantain seller. Plantain seller number one has lost that business. In most cases, people who have no cash on them will not even approach the plantain seller, so unwittingly these small businesses are losing income.

With our well-priced POS machines, USSD payment methods and in time our QR solutions, they never have to lose their income ever again. They will be fully equipped to offer their customers multiple channels of payment and can put up a sign showing they too accept all forms of payments. That aside, our agents often serve as mini banks to these businesses. So at the end of the business day, they don’t need to take home their cash with all the risks, they can deposit it in the bank through our agents. These services are available in urban and rural areas, we are making it easier for people to enjoy banking services, wherever they are.

How do you view the future of fintech in Nigeria and how do you position yourself in that space, putting into consideration the challenges and opportunities ahead?

Our view of the future of fintech is very optimistic. While some people say that there are too many fintechs in the market already, we believe that the sheer size of the market, the value being created and the learnings being garnered are unprecedented. I believe a combination of these factors will lead to the expansion of our local fintechs into other markets, because if you can win here, you have the expertise that is sought after in other markets and the opportunities will present themselves.

In a nutshell, our view is that local fintechs will expand and grow beyond these shores and we are already seeing players making very big moves and even buying out fintechs in the US. This is the future, it’s not reductionist as many might suggest but expansionist. The opportunity in this market is largely untapped and the more players we have to speedily meet the needs of the market, the better. We are positioning ourselves to be a big part of this future and will share our plans when the time is right.

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