Tosin Eniolorunda, the CEO of TeamApt, a fintech startup, assessed the current regulatory environment and disclosed how the company aims to provide financial happiness for banks, businesses and the people.
Assessing current regulatory environment
The banking and finance industry is the backbone of the nation’s commerce and regulation is very important. Regulation should foster growth and control malpractices that will hinder the growth of the industry. One of the ways regulation does this is by licensing players activities. The Apex bank is doing a good work in protecting the industry and ensuring that only serious players with value to offer are allowed in the industry. The methodology today is cash deposit for the period while the license is being granted. This often filters a lot of unserious players but it unfortunately also precludes otherwise nascent companies who do not have the financial muscle. I believe the position of protecting the industry should not be compromised however other ways to encourage serious players without the financial muscle can be encouraged.
Startups can, for example, make a case for an exception if they satisfy these conditions: a year old company and employs more than five Nigerians in the period of 12 months, that can demonstrate that industry players (e.g banks) are using their solution in a different capacity other than one that requires licensing and can get the bank to attest to this fact, that can show evidence of tax payment and revenues in books, a fidelity guarantee and professional indemnity from a reputable insurance firm to guarantee against losses dues to fraud and errors. If an intention of licensing regulation is to ensure only serious players are licensed, these steps can achieve the same objective without the financial hurdle.
What should we expect from TeamApt in, say, five years?
Our mission is to facilitate financial happiness for banks, people and businesses. We believe happiness is the goal in life and money helps people to be happy. Banks are at the centre of money in the world and this is why we set out with serving banks. We help banks to deploy web and mobile banking applications for their customers so that the customers can find it easier to pay, collect, manage or grow their money. In the next few months, we will be serving businesses and we will allow them to do same. In the next five years, we would have connected all the banks, businesses and people in a symbiotic and frictionless ecosystem. Our vision is to see that the friction of people dealing with money is gone completely, the bottom of the pyramids are financially included and people are generally happier by using our systems and infrastructure to deal with their finances.
Reasons for leaving Interswitch to start TeamApt
Entrepreneurs are usually restless people. They are not usually after money but they thirst greatly on making an impact. They know the money will follow. I needed to make an impact in my life and it was becoming harder to do so with my employer so I left. I figured that the worst that would happen will be that I would fail, and I could always get another job even with the startup on my resume. I, however, knew I was not going to fail. I had planned to do this all my life and I knew it was time. I was 29 years old then. While in school, I had acquired entrepreneurial experience while studying Mechanical Engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University. I had a consultancy business for students, while helping them with various hardware and software projects. I was single and I knew it would only get harder if I didn’t do it then. It was then or never. So I had to leave Interswitch in just under three years after. I could not have made a better decision.
Expectations in 2018
Any company that is thoroughly focused on customer success has a high chance of succeeding. Our experience has helped us to see the needs, and this allow us to envision a better future where banks, businesses, people and governments can be connected in a seamless end to end digital financial ecosystem to improve efficiency for the banks, reduce financial friction for the businesses and increase financial inclusion for the people. So far we have reached a milestone of providing digital web and mobile banking for 16 banks and about 50,000 businesses. Our banks are delighting their retail and corporate customers with our solutions. Banks have approached us when they heard of the exploits we have done for other banks. The banking industry should expect more of this in 2018. We are also providing solution to a serious financial problem that all businesses in Nigeria are facing. We are experiencing this challenges too while running our business. It is estimated that billions of naira are lost annually to this operational problem. Presently, we are building a solution to address this while working with our partner banks. This year, we will consolidate our ecosystem of banks and include businesses in it for our mission of providing frictionless digital finance.
Challenge of getting good programmers
This is a real challenge. Good programmers are few and there is a competition for them in and outside the country. The country’s brain drain is alarming as many experienced developers can get jobs outside the country. They can get jobs in Dubai, Ireland, and Estonia with far greater compensation compared to what they would get in the country. To foster innovation and develop the country, a lot of engineers will always be needed and I think it’s high time the industry and the nation banded together to solve this epidemic.
I think the challenge can be resolved fundamentally in two ways. The first is to increase the supply of good quality software engineers and to make the industry more lucrative for them. Supply of good programmers can be improved through internship programmes for secondary and university students to catch and mentor them while they are young. The second solution is slightly harder as it is tied to the macroeconomic performance of the nation. The recent naira devaluation, for instance, has led to increased emigration of experienced software engineers. The industry can however try and raise rates for the engineers.