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  • Fintech is relatively new in Nigeria but as with all technology driven sectors, it has become a necessity.
  • As we get to understand what the fintech companies offer, we can appreciate their usefulness but there is still much room for improvement.
  • In this article, Nairametrics would examine some fintech apps with the aim of seeing how easy they are to use and sharing users’ complaints, if any.

What exactly is fintech?

It is a platform that is used to support and drive banking and financial services globally. It is an acronym which stands for Financial Technology. The idea behind the creation of fintech is for it to compete with the traditional banking methods and make the end user have a seamless means of transacting business without actually going to the bank. They don’t work independently, as they still leverage on some of the financial institutions.

The Nigerian financial sector, especially the banking sector has evolved over the years. With the emergence of new technologies that have moved the sector forward, it has become more endearing to the average individual who desires to carry out banking transactions with ease, comfort and speed. The truth is that Nigeria has the opportunity to position itself as one of the biggest hubs in the fintech market. The emergence of the fintech niche is redefining the way people do business in Nigeria, as lots of transactions are now being conducted via these channels.

How well has fintech fared in Nigeria?

The market is also expanding, with the likes of Flutterwave, Paga, Paystack leading the way, and the emergence of newer players coming into the sector with more innovative products and services, Nigeria is now at the fore front of Fintech in Africa.

This has also opened up a huge financial inclusion potential considering that just above 50% of our estimated population of 170 million people have active bank accounts. The cashless policy introduced by the federal government has also created an enabling environment for these fintech companies to blossom. Rapid growth of mobile transactions over the last couple of years has seen figures hit the $143 million mark in 2016 from a paltry $5 million as at 2011. This feat can be attributed to the massive deployment of fintech and the continuous upsurge in the sales of mobile phones in Nigeria.

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The low cost workforce behind the fintech market coupled with an amazing window of opportunity created by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), when they compelled banks to leverage new technologies to boost banking experience of consumers has resulted in making the fintech industry become a juicy financial melting pot with an estimated $180 million in investments to be realized by the end of 2018.

This has no doubt made the financial sector to become vibrant and competitive, with every available platform being used to woo consumers who have been given several options to choose from. The question about what fintech company to patronize is very crucial.

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We shall be doing a review of some of the best up and coming fintech companies in Nigeria and what they are offering consumers and how well customers perceive their products.

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Know and choose your fintech


CowriePay

This is a payment gateway created to help consumers who cannot afford to pay for goods instantly. With its office located in Victoria Island, Lagos, the app has a standard menu for easy navigation. CowriePay has a working agreement with licensed financial service providers and retail/merchant houses that enables customers to buy products of their choices instantly and pay back later. The platform also has a special feature that enables customers to either send or receive money from anyone nationwide with just an active mobile phone number.

Front Page of Cowrie Pay Website

The app solves the persistent problem of consumer financing and allows customers to spread repayments of loans up to a maximum of 12 months. The hassle free loan at the point of sale is the unique selling point of this app, as it affords consumers the opportunity to get loans at low interest rates.

app

To open an account with CowriePay, all you need to do is supply your  personal data and income information like monthly salary if you are a monthly earner, monthly income and monthly expenses. The name of your bankers, BVN and account number will also be required. To sign up as a member, simply visit the website at www.cowriepay.com and click on Register. For those having challenges, call customer their care.

Complaints

When we visited the site, we were quite impressed, but observed certain things which created some reservations on its security. Previous users’ details still remain in some fields for other people logging in to see and take advantage of should they chose to. When we tried signing up, we discovered that the fields for mobile numbers were already filled up with someone else’s mobile number. The same thing was observed in the column for bank – GTB was already there.

The app developers need to work on the security of the app to prevent hackers from having access to vital details.

app

Kudi

Kudi is a Hausa word that means money. It is an app designed to help consumers manage their personal finances on the go. It can be useful for transferring funds and payment of utilities or monthly subscriptions for services like, DStv, Startimes or Gotv. Most importantly, it can send you timely reminders whenever your payments of these recurring bills are due. The unique thing about transactions on Kudi is that they are mostly free, though some transactions do carry fees.

Kudi Pay Website Front Page

The site also has a 24/7 Chatbox feature where one can always find a customer care staff to chat with for resolving any issue. We also observed that the site security is top notch, as it deployed the latest PCI-DSS end-to-end security gateway, which guaranteed safety of users’ data and funds. It is a very light app of 2.57MB and seems to be the smallest fintech app in the market. Kudi does not however generate receipt for transactions, as the ‘download receipt’ function is only available on the Facebook app. The app presently enjoys a minimal popularity rating on the Google Play store where it has been downloaded just 1000 times with barely 18 reviews by users.

The registration process is very simple as all you need to do is visit the website at www.kudi.ai and chat up using Messenger, Skype, Telegram or normal browser.


Piggybank.ng

Founded in 2016, the Piggybank.ng app is becoming so popular among Nigerians that an amazing 10,000 downloads have been recorded via Google Play store while 116 users have written reviews about their experiences using the app. This fintech app is connected directly to commercial banks in Nigeria. In essence, they don’t work independently, as they leverage banking platforms.

The app enables the average user to regularly make piecemeal savings. Each user account is under the custody of UBA Nigeria PLC who is the official partner bank affiliated to it. The app’s concept is similar to the idea of having a little piggy bank at home where kids drop little coins given to them as gifts on daily, weekly or monthly bases. It is a way of teaching them sound investment habits even at early childhood. After a certain duration, the safe is usually broken and the money inside is used to pay for the child’s educational needs or buy special items.

Piggy bank Website Home Page

Furthermore, the app utilizes the concept of automatic savings, knowing that the mind-set of the average Nigerians is not disposed to saving. It does this via its automatic savings feature. It also combines discipline and flexibility to enable the user to achieve his/her financial target.

Getting started is quite easy, as all that is required is to create a free account with your full names, email address and mobile phone number. A password will then be sent to your email. Once you login into the app, you need to set your withdrawal account and also set an auto save option. Then Piggybank.ng will automatically use your debit card details to transfer money to your set Piggybank account based on your specific auto save instructions. There are limits of savings depending on the option you choose. Daily savings limits are from N50 to N25, 000, while weekly saving limits are from N500 to N100, 000. The highest limit of savings, which is the monthly savings, is between N3000 and N500, 000.

Note: It must be emphasized here that only 4 free withdrawals are allowed on chosen dates within a year; subsequent withdrawals will attract penalties.

Complaints

On the flip side, most customers complained that the auto save option does not work. A recent update made on the app caused lots of challenges for users as regards to login and inability to update withdrawal account.


KiaKia

The KiaKia app creates real time access to capital on the go. It is an app that deploys the peer to peer mechanism and it is 100% online. The app creates a unique platform that links those in need of affordable loans to those individuals or corporate bodies that can lend out at flexible rates. KiaKia plays the role of a 3rd party agent and collects a small fee for creating the link for such transactions to be completed. When we visited the app, we saw a well-structured and beautifully designed website containing the entire basic menu a first time user will need.

KiaKia website front page

As soon as we logged in,we were welcomed by a chat bot called Mr K then we clicked the ‘chat with me’ button to begin. Once in the chat room, you are asked to provide your email. You have the option to select ‘borrower’ if you want to register and get access to loan facility or ‘lender’ if you want to register and give loans. Loan disbursement on KiaKia usually takes less than 3 hours to be completed for those who have had their loan applications approved. With a total download of just 100 and 3 users’ reviews, the app does not enjoy much patronage.

Complaints

Some of the challenges associated with the app are tied to the registration process and inability to login due to network issues and application downtime. It however has huge potentials yet to be unleashed.


ALAT.NG

This state-of-the art fintech app is immensely popular among Nigerians as is evident from the number of downloads on Google Play store which presently stands at a whopping 100,000 download. The Alat platform prides itself as Nigeria’s first digital bank.

It is a wholly digital platform that saves the user the stress of going into the banking hall for transactions. It makes all banking services available for the user thus differentiating it from the normal mobile apps being used by most banks in Nigeria. It works on web, IOS and Android devices, and is promoted by WEMA bank.

Alat

One can open an account with them within minutes by uploading a passport photograph, a picture of your finger print, picture of your signature on plain white paper, ID card and a recent utility bill. These documents can be uploaded via an interface on the app. Once your account is approved, an email will be sent to you within minutes. You need to confirm if your details are inputted correctly. Set password and choose security question.

Upon opening your account, it will remain in a restricted mode pending when you provide additional information like valid ID card and a recent utility bill. An Alat team official usually goes out to verify your actual residence, so ensure that you don’t upload a dubious document. As soon as the physical verification is done, your account will move from restricted mode to active. This will also be noticed in the colour change from yellow to green.

Funding of your Alat account is done by direct debit from your Wema bank account or via debit card from any other Nigerian bank. The app is 100% secured and is very popular among students and business men/women in Nigeria.

The menu on alat.ng website is simple and easy to navigate with a beautiful user interface to complement. There are specific services and products on offer via the platform. This includes the ability to order an ATM card, which will be personally delivered to you. You activate the ATM card on the app and start using instantly. One good feature we observed while checking the app was that one is automatically logged out if inactive for few minutes. The most amazing feature on the app remains the Goal feature, which allows the user to plan towards achieving certain goals via the app. Once activated, automatic savings will be initiated either on a daily, weekly or monthly term depending on the option you select.

Complaints

The app doesn’t come without its fair share of complaints. Users complained about the difficulty in creating a new account. Others complained about experiencing crashes while trying to upload utility bills. A few users shared the frustrating experience of having difficulty in upgrading to normal accounts. Some who changed their phones and installed the app afresh also discovered that they couldn’t login again. There was also the daunting experience of Alat officials not coming to do physical verification even for months after upload of documents.


ChatPay

This is more of a social media savvy fintech application which enables users to carry out banking transactions from selected social media platforms like Twitter, Telegram, Messenger, Wechat and Skype. It is promoted by Sterling bank, one of Nigeria’s commercial banks with innovative products and services. With an enviable download stat of 10,000 on Google Play store, the app is quite popular and useful.

Chatpay website home page

It performs functions which are common with banks’ mobile apps like funds transfers, bill payments, account mini statement provision, ATM locator, and purchase of airtime. You must have an active mobile number to start the process of registration on the platform. Secondly, you have to select the social media you wish to use and search for the social media icon on ChatPay and follow.

You then select and open a new direct message window with ChatPay and type the keyword “CHATPAY” then send. A reply highlighting the products and services they render will be sent to you. Just select your preference and you are good to go.

Complaints

There was the serious complaint of funds getting stuck in transit during transfer. Unfortunately, all efforts to get refunds proved impossible. Some users also complained of non-responsive icons for adding card details on the app. A particular user complained about how he transferred N10, 000 and N30, 000 was debited from his account. Efforts to get refunds were impossible after calling and sending several mails. Payment for DSTV subscription was made by a user and his account was debited, but the transaction was not successful.  Delay in delivering OTP was also a major complaint among users.


KongaPay

This is one of the oldest and safest fintech companies in Nigeria with a secured payment platform that has seen its popularity soar over the years. It is useful for payment of goods and services online. The good thing about KongaPay is that it can be used for shopping both locally and internationally and it’s affiliated with major banks in Nigeria.

Mode of payment is via Master card, Verve Card and Visa Card. It links up with your debit cards for seamless transfers and payments. The platform doesn’t require tokens for fund transfers; you simply make transfers via your mobile phone only. BVN details are however required to maintain integrity of transactions between parties on the platform.

Kongapay website front page

As a seller on KongaPay, you can receive money through your mobile number without even owning a bank account. The site’s https feature which is synonymous with top sites helps it to be secured against fraud and hackers.

With an impressive number of 10,000 downloads and features that include zero charges on all transactions, the app is a real contender for fintech best app of the year. There is the added advantage of getting a refund via KongaPay if your order doesn’t exactly meet your expectation.

You also get a 5% discount on every airtime purchase, DStv and Gotv subscription payments are available on the app. The app is based on 3 cardinal philosophies – comfort, simplicity and security. There is no need for users to get bothered about how to fund their wallets as the app is affiliated to all major banks in the country.

Complaints

Some users complained about the customer care number not being functional. A particular customer complained about how his fund was withheld and the system kept responding “insufficient funds”. It is also not possible to purchase goods worth over N10, 000 on Konga using the app. Recent upgrade of the app resulted in frequent crashing and unnecessary debiting of accounts even when products and services paid for were not implemented.


M-NAIRA

This app is an amazing platform that provides funds transfer services to clients and links with all Nigerian bank accounts, mobile wallets and other receiving payment providers for instantaneous remittance services. Funds transfer on the app is seamless and also in real time either through debit or credit card to any Nigerian bank or mobile wallet. It is useful for receiving money from friends and family members abroad at very low costs. The beauty of the app is that you can track your transfers on the go.

One can also buy airtime, pay bills, pay for internet and cable TV subscriptions with ease. There are minimum and maximum amounts that can be paid via the app. The minimum amount is N100, while the maximum amount is defined by the platform. Charges on transfer are defined by your bank. Transfers from any country to any Nigerian bank via the app usually take about 30 seconds. The app developers claim that the app is the fastest secure way to send money home directly to any bank account in Nigeria.

M-Naira website front page

When we checked the site, we observed that it had its own exchange rate configured within the system. What it means is that the exchange rate is bound to fluctuate depending on the dollar exchange. For example as at when WE checked the exchange rate on January 17, 2018, 10USD=1992NGN at the rate of 1USD to 355NGN.

The app is connected to all mobile money providers and all types of billers nationwide. As per security, the platform implements additional security for your payment through the usage of safe tokens.

After registering your email address, a message with an activation code will be sent to you. Enter the activation code correctly on the website to secure your account. Registration on the website is free. All you need to do is visit www.mnaira.co and enter required personal details.

Complaint

WE observed that it could take a while for the site to load. Also interesting to note that they do not have a functional website.


Conclusion

Apparently, fintech startups are on the way to doing great things in Nigeria. Their apps are useful tools which financial transactions in this age a bit easier; though, they still have a long way to go as seen in the complaints shared.

Article was written by Chacha Wabara with help from Anna Urieto, Chris Pemu, Mudeerat Olawunmi and Ugo Obi-chukwu.