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Nigeria fintech SeerBit digitizing commerce payments for Africa’s informal traders [Q&A]

We offer a payments ecosystem that we believe can do so much, so our goal is to harness that to help as many businesses as possible grow.

Niyi Kolade

SeerBit, a pan-African fintech platform enables fast, seamless, inclusive, and secure payments targeting small and medium-sized businesses. 

Tech in Africa spoke to the CEO Omoniyi Kolade on SeerBit’s journey thus far, what we can expect from them in the future, and why fintech commerce solutions are essential for Africa.

What does 2021 look like for you in terms of traction?

We’ve grown 12 to 16% month on month since we launched. Yet, I believe we have not even started. We’re only still experimenting and studying the opportunities in the market. Cash is our biggest competition at the moment on the continent, and when we consider our growth in that light, we see a massive room for traction that only our creativity limits. 

What do you feel are SeerBit’s biggest successes, and what can we expect from the startup in 2021-2022?

Our most considerable success is expansion into new markets in such a short time and the speed with which we have been able to adapt. Additionally, we are happy to have rolled out our new features and solutions targeted at small and medium businesses, both online and offline, to help them solve some of the biggest financial challenges hindering their growth. We offer a payments ecosystem that we believe can do so much, so our goal is to harness that to help as many businesses as possible grow.

What do you see as the key challenges and opportunities ahead for SeerBit in the short term?

A key short-term challenge for us is quickly understanding markets enough to adapt our solutions to cater to their most significant needs. And whilst doing that, still staying true to our goal of bridging gaps and removing frictions in payment for commerce. For example, how do we include mobile money options for merchants in markets where mobile money is a big deal? How do we make the experience seamless for users in these new markets, acknowledging the different behaviors and cultures?

It is common for companies to go down a rabbit hole trying to solve particular problems and forget their mission. For example, we could find that USSD is popular in a specific market and focus on integrating USSD, ignoring increasing smartphone usage and its opportunities for payments. However, since our mission is to remove frictions and barriers, the topline goal remains ‘easy access and usage of payments for commerce’, and we make it a point never to forget that.

A key opportunity is offline SMEs in Africa which makes up at least 90% of the market. As we build out our payment solutions, ultimately, SeerBit’s goal is to help millions of these offline businesses access the efficiency of digital, particularly in payments and finance.

What is the role of fintech in enabling merchants on their digital journey and growing e-commerce?

I think fintech is the ultimate foundation for eCommerce, considering it provides the payment infrastructure upon which eCommerce thrives. However, there’s still a massive opportunity for fintech in enabling merchants on their digital journey. For example, credit access is still a significant pain point for SMEs all over the continent, and it’s now more urgent than ever for fintech to plug that gap. Several solutions have already emerged, but there should be more, and these solutions should be scalable to the millions of merchants operating off the internet.

We also need simple accounting tools for SMEs embedded into fintech solutions. Businesses cannot achieve their potential without proper records, and our experience is that many SMEs do not have enough financial education or awareness to keep these records properly. Fintech can help address this. 

Additionally, while building fintech solutions for merchants on the continent, it is important that entrepreneurs and innovators take the time to understand the different types of merchants (online and offline) and their individual behaviors and preferences, in order to develop products that truly serve them.

So, a big role of fintech in enabling merchants on their journey to grow eCommerce is building solutions that truly understand the merchants’ behavioral patterns and business needs.

What is your view is or will be the impact of protectionism on financial services, and potentially, the opportunities for cross-border providers? Are we seeing instances of such protectionism in markets you operate?

Fintech solutions and digital players are keen to enable cross-border payments and facilitate trade across the continent. However, the biggest challenge has been regulation. Most countries have laws that hamper the free flow of capital across countries in Africa. So one of our biggest priorities at SeerBit is smoothening cross-border transactions- how can you transact business in Ghana while resident in Kenya or South Africa easily? 

This is why we are all excited about the AfCFTA- the whole point of the continental trade agreement is to remove/reduce protectionism. The hope now is that the execution of the agreement will be seamless and fruitful to help us achieve the dream of smooth trade across borders in Africa. 

Where do you envision SeerBit in the future?

We are currently focused on growth and delivering our mission to remove frictions and barriers in payments for commerce in Africa. It may lead us to fundraise significant amounts in the future. However, we are currently focused on scaling as we should and addressing the solutions for our customers.

Featured image: CEO Niyi Kolade (Supplied)


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