MoniePoint is one of the largest non-bank mobile money operator in Nigeria, and by extension in Africa.
Monnify is yet another payment gateway, launched in 2019, which has now become the first and largest account transfers payment gateway in Nigeria.
Both of these 2 solutions are created by Team Apt, a Lagos-based company building solutions to solve the inefficiencies in Nigeria’s growing digital financial services market.
In a space dominated by established traditional banking institutions and telecom companies, Team Apt is indeed an interesting case study that offers great insights into what works and what doesn’t in financial products and services on the continent.
Some of the startup’s products successes so far within the last 5 years include:
- 26 banks supported
- 100K businesses onboarded
- 2 million customers
- $160 million in monthly transactions
Here are some great insights from the company’s experience in building successful financial products on the African continent:
- Have a defined goal
From the get go, Team Apt was clear on the solutions they were offering – provide an end-to-end service that is fully automated with credit/debit reconciliation that would help banks accelerate their activities and set them on the same pedestal with the digital age.
“Money and happiness are fundamental to human existence. At the center of money and happiness is the banks because that’s where people save their money. We believed that if we could build technology solutions that implement these properly, we would have won because it’s not going to change till Jesus comes.
Even if money changes from fiat to blockchain. That’s what drives us.” ~ Tosin Eniolorunda, Founder and Managing Partner, Team Apt.
In 2016, Team Apt successfully completed and launched its first digital PoS solution which was solving a major point back then of PoS settlement in bulk.
The solution is now used by 98% of all the banks in Nigeria
- Bootstrap your startup
According to Tosin, taking external funding in the early stages of a business results in making less attempts to take risks or innovate spontaneously.
“When you start without having a lot of funds or revenue, you don’t start out being cool. You start out being rugged.” ~ Tosin
For Team Apt, the early days included continually investing revenue back into the business in order to further accelerate the exponential growth the startups achieved within a short period.
“The fact that we grew to this stage without any external help, this fundamentally shows something was right.” ~ Tosin
- Have a go-to-market strategy
Penetrating the market is often a daunting task for most startups. According to Tosin, B2B solutions are often easier as you don’t need much money to close deals unlike B2C where you need to do marketing.
Team Apt decided to offer their solution to a bank to try out for free. From there, it was easy as the bank recommended the solution to other banks and it got easier as more banks adopted the solution.
“We wanted a more efficient and automated way of reconciling these transactions, then Team Apt came along, we tried them with one or two products to reconcile and it worked out. So we decided to go all in.” ~ Fidelity Bank
Seeing the fast rate of adoption, Team Apt initiated other solutions, and this time around, execution and penetration were not so difficult since they already had a presence in most banks.
- Build for the people
Having successfully built solutions for banks, and realized where markets are, Team Apt now builds apps that encompass and actually service the future digital needs of people. One of these is the first instant transfer app that is based on blockchain.
“The industry is changing and people are changing. Younger people whom we call digital natives do not want to go to banks. If the banks do not upgrade to suit the needs of these digital folks, they will lose out.”
The above lessons provide a glimpse of what it takes to build and sustain successful financial products and solutions on the Africa continent that entrepreneurs in the space use.
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