Olaniyan: How FG can Boost Operations of Technology Companies in Nigeria

Olaniyan: How FG can Boost Operations of Technology Companies in Nigeria

In this interview, an astute Chartered Accountant and the First Female Group Managing Director (GMD) of Chams Holding Company Plc, Mrs Mayowa Olaniyan,  explains  the measures the tederal government should adopt to enhance the operations of technology companies as key drivers of economic growth and development. 

Congratulations on your appointment as the first female Group Managing Director of Chams Holding Company Plc How did you respond to this appointment?

Well, I am humbled and grateful for the privilege to serve the company in this capacity. As the first female Group Managing Director of Chams HoldCo., I must commend Chams HoldCo for the rewarding culture and for aligning with global organizations to promote gender equity. Over the years, I have seen the Group evolve and grow to what it is today, so I’m set to advance the Group. 

QYou have risen through the ranks to emerge as the GMD. What is your immediate preoccupation?

My current preoccupation is to lead the company in the right strategic direction, to create more value for the stakeholders while elevating the Chams brand.  Chams HoldCo. plays key roles in the Fintech industry by deploying innovative digital solutions. Strategically, the Group will be repositioned to be more efficient and strive for business expansion. 

QYou emerged as the GMD when the Nigerian economy is facing harder challenges, including rising inflation, general complaints over the pains of removal of fuel subsidy, controversy on the implementation of a unified exchange rate and prohibitive interest rate; what measures is Chams putting in place to create value for its shareholders?

Chams HoldCo. has been in operation for 38 years now, and so we have been through all kinds of economic seasons, and each time, we came out the other side. As I see it, the recent challenges provide an opportunity for companies to adapt innovatively. I am aware of the fact that the consequences will be far-reaching for all stakeholders, but we have to consider our options for strategic decisions to move forward. As we adjust to the economic realities, we’ll explore the benefits of the unified exchange rate to grow our business beyond the border.

Recently, Chams got a Holdco payment license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Can you provide an insight?

Chams HoldCo was granted the Payment Service Holding Company (PSHC) license earlier in the year, in January 2023 precisely. This is as a result of the existing Switching and Mobile Money Operators (MMO) licenses in the Subsidiaries.   The PSHC license enables us to establish a business institution that will further increase the company’s pivotal tole in the payment industry across Africa and ensure global relevance and an opportunity to reposition the Group.

Chams is said to have repositioned. Can you explain the Company’s new structure and the major functions of the Company’s subsidiaries?

Chams formally transformed into a Non-operating Holding Company Structure to effectively manage the Group’s resources and accelerate growth. The Holding Company is focused on investing in technology assets and portfolios as a result of the PSHC license from the CBN. With this new direction, Chams Holdco is now focused on strategic activities. The Subsidiaries have been structured for significant growth.  Chamsaccess: Has a legacy of being an industry leader in delivering hardware solutions to financial institutions, from biometric capture machines to sophisticated cash counting machines, debit card printers, etc. It has recently partnered with Appzoneto deliver Do-It-Yourself (DIY) debit card printers being deployed across several banks in Nigeria. The implication is that bank customers can now within seconds obtain new debit cards without interacting with any bank staff, just like taking cash from the ATM. Chamsaccess pioneered the PenCentralsolution solving reconciliation problems in the Pension Industry. PenCentral currently processes Pension for nearly 1,000 employers, powering about N2B worth of Pensions monthly and growing about 40% quarterly. 

Chamsswitch: The recent investors’ interest in Chamsswitch is not unconnected with recent milestones, including its partnership with the biggest card scheme in the world – UnionPay International, and poised to power cross-border trade and procurement transactions for large Corporates and merchants involved in international trade. 

Chamsmobile is a CBN-licensed Mobile Money Operator (MMO) with the brand name KEGOW,provides mobile wallet and Agency banking services.  Chamsmobile has significantly simplified mobile banking services with features that speak directly to the need of the masses. 

Cardcentre is currently growing its payment card manufacturing business for banks and fintech. The company experienced tremendous growth by acquiring significant new businesses in 2022. Cardcentre recently began printing SIM cards locally for MTN, Airtel, etc. It is expanding its SIM card printing infrastructure to deliver 3m cards per week to meet local demand. 

QHow do the government’s unstable policies affect technology companies in Nigeria?

Just like policies affect other aspects of the economy and all kinds of businesses, policies affect technology companies too. As I mentioned earlier, our company has been in operation for 38 years now, and so we have witnessed various kinds of government policies and the aftermath of those policies. Some have been beneficial for business, and others not so much. What has kept us thriving is our adaptability to these policies.  Besides being a publicly quoted company, our businesses are regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria due to the operating licenses in the Group. Hence, we are accustomed to government policies.

QAre there policy measures the Federal Government can put in place to enhance the operations of technology companies in Nigeria

At the moment, Nigeria, as a country, has sufficient policies on technology. A number of policies were established on Information and Communications technology, (ICT) and national Science and technology. We should focus on the proper execution of those policies to realize the objectives. Specifically, we will crave support for the existing innovation hubs or to establish new hubs by the different tiers of government.

How will you respond to the market perception that Chams has not been generating value for its shareholders since its inception?

This perception can be attributed to a lack ofadequate information. Though the company hasn’t been paying substantial dividends but Chams like many companies had it tough in the past, especially on the challenges of project execution in Nigeria. However, a strategic decision was made to change the business model and refocus the company to deploy innovative business solutions. Currently, Chams is on a growth trajectory, and this is being reflected in its share price on NGX  We are confident that shareholders will soon smile to the bank. 

QWhat is your assessment of Chams’ 2022 financial performance?

The Chams 2022 Financial Performance was significantly improved compared to the previous year, even though a minimal Loss was reported due to impairments.  However, the revenue grew by 57% compared to the Year 2021. A noticeable growth in the Assets and improved shareholders’ fund was achieved.     

QWhat should the shareholders expect in the 2023 performance?

Shareholders should have noticed an impressive performance in 2023 by now based on Q1 and Q2 financial results that were published. As of the mid-year, there has been over 130% growth compared to that of last year. And based on the ongoing business activities, the next half-year performance will definitely supersede that of the first half-year. Hence, the result is expected to be rewarding. 

QIs the plan by Chams to do the proposed right issue still on the drawing board?  Can you shed light? 

A number of business expansion is taking place. Cardcenter recently expanded into a new line of business such as printing sim cards for MTN, Airtel, etc.,and a plan is in place to produce the sim locally before the end of this year. Chamsswitch has just concluded the plan to process China Union Pay Cards. Considering the volume of business between Nigeria and China, this is a massive project that will require a lot of funds. Hence, there will be a need to raise funds, and different options will be considered, including the right issue.  

Do you agree that Chams’ share price reflects the Company’s intrinsic value on NGX?

Chams HoldCo. has five Subsidiaries, and an Investor placed a value of N21 billion on one of the Subsidiaries early this year in a bid to acquire a significant interest. This speaks directly to the intrinsic value of the Chams HoldCo. and evidence that the company’s share is grossly undervalued.  Going forward, we will make information about the company and its subsidiaries activities more available in the public domain. 

Any plan to make Chams more visible under your administration?

At this stage, it is a necessity to make Chams’ brand and its activities visible. It is not just about visibility but our continued roles in upholding the tenets of Post Listing Requirements of NGX whereby quoted companies must provide regular information to the market.  The brand management plan is in place to ensure that the company brand is visibly positioned by deploying an integrated communication model.  The company will leverage strategic industry events to inform the market of the recent development within the group. Also, a number of corporate social responsibilities have been recently rekindled.

QHow are you relating with the stakeholders? 

Some of the reasons for our existence over 38 years is a result of the excellent cordial relationships between the stakeholders and us.  We create exciting experiences for our customers and treat their feedback with utmost importance.  We maintain good relationships with investors and shareholders by designing compelling and consistent company messages to build credibility with shareholders and shape investor perception. We engage our stakeholders by proactively asking for feedback which we incorporate to improve our strategy and service delivery. Moreover, we check in with our partners and provide timely communication to any feedback they may have. In addition, our relationship with government entities, particularly regulators, has been maintained by our compliance, transparency, and accountability.

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