She is a strong female voice in the fintech sector. Yet, benefits of her contribution to the development of the financial services industry cut across gender divides.

Her name is Abimbola Odedeyi; Country Manager of  Unlimint, a fintech innovator  offering simplified global structure for local payment ecosystems. 

Odedeyi is a seasoned professional with over 11 years of experience in the financial services industry. Her expertise cuts across Sales, Business Development, Strategic Partnerships, Key Account Management, customer service in the commercial and retail banking as well as in the payment space.  

She  has worked in two  of  the top five banks in Nigeria before   progressing to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS where she strategically partnered stakeholders in the financial services industry to facilitate a number  of digital payment projects worth over $1 billion.

In this interview, she lends her voice to how Nigeria’s Small and Medium Enterprise, SME sector can survive in the wake of fleeting global alternative payment methods.

Her advice, however, is that Nigeria must take a radical approach to harmonising local and international alternative payment methods to keep the economy of her SMEs afloat.

Abimbola Odedeyi

By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

You have immense experience in the financial services industry. Can you share your view on the African payment landscape?

The African payment landscape is evolving rapidly with digital payments and services such as lending and cross-border payments growing in leaps and bounds. I expect to see more payments companies adapting to the new demands and purchasing preferences of customers while addressing the inherent risks.

I also believe that existing payment processes should be optimized to offer customers easier, faster, and more efficient ways of completing transactions.

In addition, I expect to see more value-adding digital innovations spring up in the fintech space over time.

Unlimint provides large number of alternative payment methods to its partners, can Nigeria plug into your offerings?

Nigeria can benefit from our years of experience as well as our expertise in facilitating easier payment acceptance globally. Through our partnership with different payment methods globally, Unlimint is able to offer over 1,000 payment methods, which means that our merchant customers can pay whichever way they want to, giving them a choice.

Furthermore, our state-of-the-art technology puts our merchants in firm control of their businesses by providing metrics and key insights into their businesses via the customizable user-friendly dashboard. This will enable them make data-driven decisions at any time.

Unlimint will enable our Nigerian merchants to expand their businesses globally as they will be able to showcase and export their goods and services while receiving payments from their customers in different countries via the different alternative payment methods which we have made available, and they will be settled in Naira in Nigeria. This in turn promotes export development and boosts the Nigerian economy.

Nigeria’s SME sector is unstructured and unaggregated. Can’t that hamper growth of the payment landscape?

I would say that the MSME sector has not hampered the growth of the payment landscape as it is being serviced by the payment agents. Yes, it is unstructured and unaggregated, however, I believe that the growth of the payment landscape is enhanced because of the presence of a wide agent network to provide these MSMEs with financial services and their readiness to use the services.

I also think that the uniqueness of the MSMEs has also driven innovation in the payment space, especially in the novel payment solutions being churned out in recent times and the increased usage of these solutions by the SMEs.

In addition, the advent of open banking will help in improving the financial services available to the MSMEs as there will be increased availability of data which will create rich insights into the financial health of the SMEs and help drive the release of more customizable solutions for the sector. This makes for a mutually beneficial relationship.

How can Nigeria prepare for the future of payments with disruptions coming from Over the Top, OTT giants?

Nigeria can prepare for the future of payments by creating an investor-friendly, tech-friendly, and merchant-friendly business environment to attract the foreign direct investment necessary to promote the growth of its economy.

I am of the opinion that Nigeria should facilitate, incentivize and support the growth of innovation within its fintech space because creating a thriving fintech landscape would not only drive its international tech partnerships but will also  impact its economy positively.

Policymakers should implement a fintech-friendly regulatory framework and incentivize the use of digital payments, especially in the informal sector as this would help in driving the country’s financial inclusion agenda.

Products of OTTs  like  metaverse, do not  consider the MSMEs whose DNA is local. Is that not a problem?

I do not believe that new payment methods would hamper the growth of the MSMEs, rather they are very relevant in this era and  would promote  growth  regardless of their locality. They’ll improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness and enable Business to Business, B2B transactions in the sector.

I also think that the new payment methods are flexible and can potentially facilitate the small businesses’ easy access to financial services such as lending, remittances, investing, online transactions, settlements as well as lower fees.

I believe these new payment methods have gone a long way to promote the inclusion and growth of SMEs.

Assuming Unlimint was contracted to restructure Nigeria’s payment landscape with the mandate to MSMEs, what would be your building blocks?

We would have discussions with the MSMEs to gain insights into what their needs are, from the tech point of view and then we would collaborate with other stakeholders to create a simple app that would cater to these needs.

Vanguard News

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