… set to launch debit cards
By Juliet Ebirim
After achieving a successful business year in 2020, Nigerian payment and financial service company, OPay has unveiled its growth plans for 2021 and beyond. At a press conference held on Monday, its senior executive team shared their “2020 Review and 2021 Update” agenda in Lagos.
The briefing kicked off with business updates from the company presented by Joshua Yau, Managing VP for OPay in Nigeria. Mr Yau noted that “amidst the pandemic, lockdown, and global uncertainty, OPay had its most impactful and transformative year yet in 2020. As a payment company, it grew its total gross transaction value 4.5 times to over $2 billion in December. The point-of-sale (POS) terminals deployed in its mobile money agent and merchant network represented roughly 1/5 of offline payments in Nigeria by year-end. Its mobile wallets have more than 2 million wallets with balances, totalling over $17 million.”
Country Manager Iniabasi Akpan provided a quick summary and review of OPay’s operations and performance in 2020, touching on how the company provided convenient access to cash and job creation, driven by innovation.
“We helped to give easy-to-access financial services to close to more than ten million Nigerians in all corners of the country. Our agents serve a population that is far from bank branches and ATMs, often in the outskirt of cities, suburban areas, or rural areas. We believe that the impact we have made so far could not have been without our most important partners – our agents and merchants. By providing their customers with convenience, they were able to earn a solid income with many expanding their businesses, even in the difficult pandemic”, Mr Akpan notes.
Mr Akpan also commented on the company’s ride-hailing business, which was shut down in June 2020. “Due to the visible brand of ORide – including its iconic green helmets – and its frequent everyday use, many customers gradually gained an impression that OPay is a ride-hailing company. We just want to take the time today to clarify and emphasise that OPay was and remains a payment and financial service company – a Payments Fintech. Our businesses are licensed and regulated by Central Bank of Nigeria – like any established financial institutions – and OPay is today one of the leading Fintechs in Nigeria.”
On his part, VP, Payments Solutions and Corporate Partnerships, Oladipo Omogbenigun, revealed that OPay’s growth plans in 2021 will rely on developing and deepening their strategic partnerships in the financial ecosystem with banks, regulators, card schemes, payment processors, payment service providers and other key players.
He also shared plans to partner and support banks to scale deposits many-folds this year – since by regulation, OPay needs to safeguard its wallet deposits with established banks. Oladipo also gave insights into Opay debit cards, which are scheduled to launch this year. The cards are the first of their kind and will be directly linked to Opay wallets. Opay wallet users will be able to use the cards on ATMs, POS terminals at merchant locations and e-commerce sites.
“We have launched CreditMe, which gives easy access to credit to all wallet users at the point of purchase. We have also just launched standardised loan products to our agents and merchants based on our relationship. We think access to savings and loans through our partners is the critical step in true financial inclusion beyond just accessing cash,” Mr Omogbenigun adds.
Also, VP, Product and Engineering, Dotun Adekunle shared plans around empowering offline payments and encouraging online businesses. “We have innovatively built technological workarounds to ensure higher network availability on our systems without compromising speed and quality of service, this despite ecosystem challenges that would have led to incessant downtimes. Our goal is to make payments integration easy and simple so developers and innovators of digital products can focus on building the core functionality of their products”, Adekunle notes.
Regarding regulation, Mr Akpan says OPay is compliant with all CBN regulations and guidelines. “In developing and deploying our products and services and in all our operations, we strive to comply with the regulatory frameworks and guidelines as well circulars issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) including Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and transaction monitoring as well as Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) concerning the protection of customers data and privacy”, Mr Akpan notes.
OPay launched its mobile payment service in August 2018, creating an infrastructure on which the company is now also adding new services. The agent-centric mobile payment operation focuses on reaching the massive unbanked population of Nigeria. OPay’s vision is to rapidly support the realisation of Nigeria’s vision for financial inclusion for everyone through the use of global-leading technology.