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Africa is where you build businesses to maximize the next billion users – Flutterwave co-founder

Andela & Flutterwave co-founder, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji
Andela and Flutterwave co-founder, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji

Flutterwave co-founder, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, in the second part of the exclusive interview with financialtechnology and eMagineTV shed light on some salient issues. Excerpt:

What do you mean when you say Africa is the last chance?
If you think about the future over the next 30 years, more than half of the African working population is going to be in Africa. This is the youngest continent in the world with a population of average age of 19 years. We have the most mobile phone penetration in Africa. Most people are living in the future in Africa than anywhere in the world. The world has the opportunity to engage Africa before it becomes the next China or India.

There is no other good story left. India and China got it right. There is no other place in the world where you can build businesses that will maximize the next billion users. Nothing exemplifies it more than Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria in 2016. Most people felt he came to check on Andela or build realistically Facebook number. The projection will come from Africa and Middle East. Nigeria is the number.

What is the future of fintech in Africa?
It depends on the choices we make today. As a community, we can choose to build an ecosystem where we can enable and grow the world best companies that focuses on the future. That is really what we can choose to wait for other people to build it for us. At the ecosystem, we understand that the power is large enough. We understand we will make more progress by working, than by fighting, each other at the ecosystem. We should build something that is fantastic, something that will put us at the forefront. Every other opportunity in the world is ticking. This is initially the last open gap. We have the best opportunity to do things. Are we going to keep fighting each other until Facebook and Google come to build it and come to dominate?

What would it take to morph fintech community into an ecosystem?
It starts with sharing ideas, infrastructures, and API. Business should be built by default, open. At Flutterwave, we believe that if you have any technology and it is not shared within a month of launch, the product should be killed. It does not serve the community. It is also a function of all of us being co-collaborators. We are going to compete, build product but ultimately having the mission-minded approach to business that is what is good for the customers. If that is the top question on every CEO’s mind in this ecosystem, I think we will move very quickly from community to ecosystem. Then we will understand that Google maps sitting on Apple’s iPhone serves the community better than both of them deciding to keep the map separately. It is best for customers if we collaborate.

What is your advice to young fintech startups?
They should build good teams. The biggest mistake many startups are making is thinking they want to build a solo team. They are not very customer focused. They are chasing ideas instead of finding customers with which they can develop their companies. They are not building very good team. They must come and work together because as an ecosystem, there is no one who knows it all. What I will love to see in the future is the inter-generational set of people trying to solve the problem with the energy and innovation of the young with experience and skills of the old. We are coming together to build things that work in an environment that share mutual trust.

Flutterwave and Access Bank, is there a collaboration or what?
Our partnership with Access Bank is a very simple one to explain. Access Bank is our first client. The bank made a fast decision with speed to innovate into the future and to see into tomorrow. They took the risk of working with Flutterwave. They took a chance on us. That is how we have built the relationship with Access Bank. We cherish the relationship a lot.

Other banks should learn from the Access Bank example. We have the ability to work with other banks to build and move forward together. It is important for us to build with one customer and learn from that customer before branching out to other customer. Now, Access Bank is not the only customer we serve. We have more than 10 banks in Nigeria today.