Recently, more Nigerians have been relying on financial technology (fintech) firms for quick fixes to their financial needs. A cross section of the population use these companies to pay their bills, transfer cash, and even borrow money. The disruption fintechs have brought about in the financial services space is certainly undeniable, and their effectiveness and efficiency are just some of the qualities that have popularised them in the country.

In 2018, several fintech companies made surprising announcements of corporate deals involving millions of dollars. Paystack, for instance, was able to attract both foreign and local investments to the tune of $8 million. In the same vein, Piggybank.ng announced early last year that it had secured some $1.1 million worth of seed funding from a group of homegrown investors.

So far, 2019 promises to be a good year for stakeholders in the financial technology space. This is because as the Central Bank of Nigeria continues to work towards ensuring that more Nigerians are financially included, it is also recognising the important role already being played by fintechs in this regard. To this effect, the apex bank has stated its commitment to backtrack on an earlier regulation rule which required fintechs and other payment service providers to have costly minimum capital bases.

Now, with all things being equal, below are the Nigerian fintech companies to watch in 2019. Note that this list has been arranged in no particular order.

Cowrywise Financial Technology Limited

Cowrywise is on a simple but very important mission— to encourage Nigerians to start saving again. A mission statement on the company’s website says it wants to empower Nigerians to retake charge of their personal finances, including saving money. The company believes that traditional financial institutions (i.e., the banks), “have made saving money and growing wealth costly and unattractive to individuals who are outside their high net worth bracket.”

Asides offering an automated service that helps Nigerians to easily save money, Cowrywise also helps Nigerians invest in high yield government bonds. The fintech company was founded in 2017. Between the time of its incorporation and the middle of last year, the company claimed that it had processed more than $1.5 million worth of savings.

Last year, Cowrywise accomplished quite a number of feats. For one, it was accepted into YCombinator, a California-based startup accelerator programme which offers mentorship and financing. The sum of $120,000 was successfully raised by Cowrywise from the YCombinator programme. It also launched an IOS mobile app, which has been reviewed nearly five hundred times, with many users praising it for its easy usability and functionality.

Considering that it has been less than two years since Cowrywise has been in existence, it has accomplished quite a lot. This gives great hope that there is still a lot of growth ahead, especially this 2019. For this reason, Cowrywise is a fintech company to watch in 2019.

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Paystack

This fintech company is less than two years old, and already it has become one of the leading fintech companies in Nigeria and indeed, Africa. Founded in 2016, Paystack offers payment services to more than 17,000 businesses and is said to be responsible for 15% of all online payments that happen in Nigeria today.

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Now, that’s a big deal! But you know what is an even bigger deal? Well, the fact that this startup has continued to raise millions upon millions of dollars from both foreign and local investors. This is asides the millions it earns monthly as direct reward for its services.

Just last year, the company raised the sum of $8 million in Series A Funding. Meanwhile, the company had earlier raised $1.3 million in 2016, just shortly after it was founded. In total, Paystack has raised about $10 million. 2018 was, of course, its best year by far in terms of raising money, expanding, and making returns.

Last year, Paystack was among the three Nigerian fintech companies that were ranked by CB Insights (a global intelligence machine) as one of the 250 fastest growing fintech companies in the world.

As 2019 begins in earnest, our attention is on Paystack to see what else it does. Most importantly, many people are looking up to the company to come up with a mobile app, something that it most likely will unveil, as the year continues to unfold.

Branch International

Branch is a financial technology firm which offers personal finance loans to small business owners. The company is one of the three Nigerian fintech firms that were ranked among the 250 fastest growing fintechs in the world by CB Insights.

Branch has offices in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Mexico, India, and the USA. Judging from the many reviews on Google Play, mostly by Nigerian users, it is safe to believe that Branch is not only solving a real problem, but also impacting lives positively.

Nairametrics cannot wait to see what the company has in store this 2019. You should watch out too.

Paga

Paga is the last of the three Nigerian fintech companies that were ranked among the world’s fastest growing startups in 2018 by CB Insights.

Founded in early 2009, it is one of the foremost fintech companies in the country. Its business model entails money transfers, which is carried out with using technology and in partnership with a group of selected banks.

Meanwhile, inasmuch as Paga has done relatively well over the past years that it has existed, there still seems to be a number of problems it must urgently fix in order to remain relevant within the ecosystem. A quick look at the review section of its mobile app on Google Play shows many dissatisfied customers. A lot of these reviews were made in 2018, and they range from the app being slow, to lack of security.

In 2019, we have placed this company among the fintech companies to watch, because we want to see how prepared it is to manage these internal problems whilst remaining relevant in the market.

Fint.NG

Fint claims to be “Nigeria’s first loan market place”. Perhaps this is a befitting description, seeing as Fint is engaged in the business of using technology to link credit-worthy individuals with competitive interest seeking lenders.

Fint says that its platform is simple, transparent and hassle free. The goal is to connect lenders and borrowers in what usually always ends as a win-win situation for all the parties involved.

Loans are important in every society, as there will always be those who need urgent cash to meet certain needs, as well as those who have such money to lend in anticipation of interests. This is one mission that was left in the hands of commercial banks for a long time. Needless to say, they failed many people.

But so far, Fint hasn’t failed in this regard. Therefore, as the new year takes off, it is most definitely one of those fintech firms to watch.

One Credit, owners of Paylater 

Paylater is yet another phenomenal Nigerian fintech company everyone should definitely watch out for in 2019. The company, which was co-founded in 2012 by brothers Chijioke and Ngozi Dozie, specialises in consumer lending. Information available on the company’s website says that “We empower individuals with access to credit, simple payments solutions, high-yield investment opportunities and easy-to-use tools for personal financial management.”

The paylater mobile app was launched in 2016 and has since then been downloaded more than one million times. With it, users can supposedly borrow money in just a matter of minutes.  But then, it’s more than just borrowing because the app offers users the opportunity to perform even more financial transactions on it.

Based on the number of positive reviews on the app, it is safe to say that Paylater is doing incredibly well. We look forward to seeing what latest innovations the company has in store for Nigerians in 2019.

PiggyTech Global Limited

Piggybank.ng is one of the fintech companies that we projected would shape the sector in 2018. And most certainly, our projection did not disappoint. This is because in May 2018, the company secured seed funding to the tune of $1.1 million. Prior to this time, the management of Piggybank.ng already announced in late 2017 that the company had grown its savings base by 3000% to N1 billion.

Founded in 2016, Piggybank.ng is a mobile savings platform which targets young people both within and outside Nigeria. It has a mobile app with lots of glowing reviews by users.

This 2019, we are looking forward to seeing the company sustain its performance so far. Perhaps, it may even roll out more innovations.

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 is 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.

In conclusion

As more Nigerians continue to embrace financial technology, it is imperative that fintech companies continue to innovate in order to offer better services to their customers. It is only by doing this that they will remain relevant.

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