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Government needs to create more awareness on mobile banking to enable financial inclusion – Ibrahim

Ibrahim Yekeen Olamilekan, is the founder and CEO of I-Smart Technology, in this interview, he explained why the government should enlighten Nigerians on the need…

Ibrahim Yekeen Olamilekan, is the founder and CEO of I-Smart Technology, in this interview, he explained why the government should enlighten Nigerians on the need to adopt digital banking to get more people banked.

What made you conceive the idea of a fintech app?

If you look at the transactions most people are doing online, you will see that they are making money to pay others, as such most bank transactions, whether it is to pay for goods and services or give to charity, flow from one end to the other. So, I felt why not build an ecosystem where a whole transaction can be done on a particular application instead of using different platforms to pay for goods and services and another to save your money. So, Paydem is an avenue that incorporates all these transactions to ease the burden of using different platforms.

There is apathy in funding for fintechs especially in the northern part of the country. How are you funding this project?

I believe in the success of this project to attract millions of people, that is why I decided to fund it with my own money. Though I won’t say I did not seek investors, I did and am still looking for them, but I believe in the notion that no one will help you when a dream you are pursuing is yet to materialise.

My background as a software and web developer helped me to achieve the creation of the application. While I am open to future sponsors, I am pumping in my own money to start it.

Do you think of getting investors in the long run?

Yes, what I am looking for now is someone who can come in to invest in the business. This is because the scope of the business is very big. We hope to go international, in such a way that those who will use the platform will be from different countries. It is designed in such a way that even if you want to travel from one country to another, you can easily purchase your flight tickets on the app. The same goes for hotel bookings and other international transactions.

What are you doing differently to attract users in a crowded space of online banking?

Basically, most fintech platforms engage in core banking, which is the transfer of money from one bank to another or serves as a place to save your money. But on Paydem, we infused banking with an online market to conduct payment for services rendered while bringing together buyers and sellers of goods and commodities. So, this eliminates the stress of using mobile banks to make a transaction and another application to buy or sell a commodity.

What are the things that can be done on the application?

It allows for instant bank transfers, where you can conduct bill payments, cable subscriptions, data and airtime purchases, virtual dollar and naira cards, airtime to cash conversion, Peer to Peer (P2P) e-commerce. A unique feature of the app is that we combined both fintech and e-commerce such that you shop and bank on the same platform.

The P2P e-commerce is built with blockchain technology that eradicates fraud by securing buyers’ funds from vendors.

For local exchange, Paydem allows you to shop internationally and pay in your own local currency. We make it in such a way that the money spent in your country is what you will use to shop without minding the source of the product or means of converting currency. This makes everyone a boss of his own.

Our customers can also make daily income as a referral can earn you almost 5 per cent of the fund.

We also try to protect buyers from online vendor scammers, as such, the money that a buyer used to purchase a product will remain on the platform until the vendor delivers the product. This will only be released when the buyer acknowledges receiving the product while the seller will also indicate delivery of the product. Once they have both testified to the completion of the transaction, then the system will release the funds.

The process is automated and secure due to the blockchain technology embedded in the system which ensures end-to-end encryption. This makes the platform much more secure for both sellers and buyers.

Another way we are making it available for our international vendor is that you can be in Nigeria and buy something outside using your own currency, eradicating the issue of naira volatility.

How are you going to convert the money to pay the seller?

What we want to do is that those who are not in Nigeria can fund their account with naira. So, we will make it mandatory for international users to make use of naira and this will bring value to the naira.

What is your advice to the government toward making more Nigerians to be banked?

I once tried this in 2017 but failed due to people not educated on using online banking. Now, the enlightenment is there, however, government needs to do more to educate people on why online banking should be embraced since most banks are not available in all places across the country. The government needs to also invest in infrastructure in rural areas to provide internet connectivity. This will spur growth in the rural economy and reduce how cash is available in the economy which is connected to inflation in the country.

Which countries are you targeting for now?

We have sights on all African countries but we are focusing on Ghana, South Africa and Ivory Coast for now.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

In the next two to three years, I have the vision of being number one in Nigeria because we have something unique from what is already in the public space.


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