Meet the man forging Africa’s cashless future

Nigeria has a cash problem.

I mean, it’s the richest country in Africa

with a nominal GDP of over $400 billion.

But when it comes to making transactions,

most locals pay with cash.

In fact, only about 35% of Nigerians

even have a bank account.

And with a population of
over 200 million people,

that’s a lot of paper floating around.

And excess cash can lead to
increased crime, corruption,

and a difficulty for some
Nigerians to accrue credit

and obtain loans.

So a tech entrepreneur named Tayo Oviosu

came up with an idea to
change the way Nigerians

think about money, which
quickly set him on a path

to becoming one of the
country’s biggest rising stars

of FinTech.

I was born in Lagos,
Nigeria in West Africa.

Growing up here, you know,
really was fantastic for me.

I learned a lot in terms of just grit

and learning to handle a variety of issues

that you face every day

where not all the
infrastructure work smoothly.

I was raised by a single parent.

My mom raised five kids, and
I was the last of five boys.

I got to see firsthand at a very young age

how she was putting in
so much to make ends meet

for all of us and the
sacrifices that she was making.

Inspired by his mother’s work ethic

and emphasis on education,

Oviosu moved to the United
States for his undergrad degree

at the age of 16.

He majored in electrical
engineering at USC

and later received a master’s

at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

While I was at Stanford,

one of the things that
really we got to question on

is, you know, what really
matters to you, right? And why.

What is it that you really wanna do?

I narrowed it down to I wanted
to help bring ideas to life,

first and foremost, on
the African continent,

but just generally speaking.

After working for a few tech companies

in America, Oviosu headed back to Lagos

on a search to find an idea
he could bring to life.

And it didn’t take long
before he found one.

So if you look at emerging markets,

about 95% of transactions
are done in cash.

And this is very unsafe.

Merchants who are selling
have to create a variety

of processes within their
stores to prevent pilferage

from their staff.

When you’re traveling with a lot of cash,

you can face theft.

And then for the economy,

it cost somewhere
between five to 7% of GDP

to clean, process all of that cash.

In Nigeria, and in really
most emerging markets,

the reason why cash is still king

is, first and foremost,
poor banking infrastructure.

So while Nigeria has 23 banks,

they only combine to have
about 5,000 bank branches.

So they don’t have the
reach to the mass market.


 

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