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What’s the Big Deal about Fintech?

Fintech

RARZACK OLAEGBE

There is life outside Fintech. Entrepreneurs need to look at other areas of the economy so that we can have a well-woven basket. However, if you are riveted at one thing, you won’t want to believe life begins and ends with Fintech, since Fintech startups are springing up like mushrooms.

So many things are broken in Nigeria. Fintech does not mend broken hearts. It cannot mend all things. We need to look into other areas and innovate. That way we can eliminate the work in hard work.

When writing, over 60 Fintech startups exist and they are doing the same thing: innovating around money. Some are in lending. Others are in payment. Yet the rest are in savings, cooperatives, esusu etc. These startups are following the money. But even then with the plethora of Fintech startups the financial industry is largely under-served.

However, if every new startup focuses on how to deliver money securely with technology, who would innovate around agritech, insurtech, regtech, edutech, and estate-tech? We need more startups in the above areas so that we can diversify and build a robust ecosystem.

Fintech

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Yes, it helps cash gets to its destination on-time real time, and money answers all things, but all things do not answer to money. As such, all startups cannot worship at the altar of cash. At the height of making finance sexy through the application of technology, entrepreneurs have neglected other areas in the value-chain like real estate, agriculture, oil and gas, education, motoring and medicine.

Through the infinite media power, the vice president Yemi Osinbajo and the rest of us now congregate at the shrine of Fintech, and to put icing on the cake, some specialists have declared 2018 as the year of Fintech because it’s seen as a threat to banking. Startups that deliver financial services have attracted funding from local and foreign investors.

What else is the big deal about Fintech that everybody now dines at its table? Could it be because one of Nigeria’s Fintech startup, SureRemit, raised $7 million in an initial coin offering (ICO); or because CowryWise was accepted into Y Combinator for the summer 2018 batch?

Or is it because, of the 42 startups that got funding in the second quarter of 2018, 12 are Fintechs? Or that at the top of funding in terms of value,Fintech acquired two entries, logistics, media and other services received one each? Maybe it is because 75% of the funding went to financial service providers, an indication that investors are keenly interested in the Nigerian Fintech space and their understanding of addressing the challenges in the sector?

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If that is the case, Fintech is riding high. Banks now collaborate with this innovation to make service delivery better. However, with that, six years after the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN]’s cashless policy, Nigeria remains a cash economy. But aside addressing the dearth of financial inclusion, Nigerian entrepreneurs can also innovate around currency exchange, investment, insurance, logistics etc.

Nevertheless, whatever the allure of Fintech, we need to quit looking at the mirror and gaze at the window so that we can see other opportunities on the horizon. Yes, we have Farmcrowdy and other startups working in agriculture. We need more.

fintech

There are opportunities in medicine, pharmacy, and spiritual side of life. There are opportunities in the real estate and that is why it is gladdening to stumble upon WeWork, a startup that is promoting workspaces where companies and people grow together.

With over 5,000 staff, WeWork provides shared physical and virtual workspaces for tech startups, HR, consulting, communities and services for entrepreneurs. It transforms buildings into dynamic environments for creativity, focus, and connection. It is more than just the best place to work. It is a movement toward humanizing work.

We need innovation like this in the real estate, hospital and other areas. When this is done, we would realise that there is life outside Fintech. But first, let us answer the question, what’s the big deal in Fintech?