It’s no longer news that the Tech space in Nigeria is buzzing. Many tech entrepreneurs are solving real market problems and getting validation from Global investors. In 2019 alone, about $360 million was invested in Fintech related businesses in Nigeria.
However, with this positive development, we are yet to see many of these companies scale in such a way that their solutions become mainstream and are used on a frequent basis by a significant portion of the population.
Why might this be? First, I think with time, many of these Tech solutions will become more validated by users, and recommendations to other users will invariably help to position the products at scale. But before then, startups must pay attention to ease of use, and customer support as those become even more important.
Recently, I decided to sell my car in the US and was looking for the easiest way that guarantees quick turnaround and convenience. It was clear to me that I couldn’t use the traditional retail channel to sell as it takes time, and is unpredictable. The option of shipping the vehicle to Nigeria to sell was also not really there, no thanks to the hefty importation duties and clearance fees at the port.
With these options out, I decided to visit the nearest offices of CarMax (yes, CarMax has an office close to most Zip codes in the US), to get the car evaluated. The promise of giving you a real offer is real. We waited at an agent’s desk while the car was being evaluated and during our wait, the agent tried to sell us a replacement car, stressing the convenience of drop-off and tax savings. After about 30 minutes, they made an offer that looked decent and was guaranteed for 7 business days. We left, obviously thinking that we would sell the car to CarMax.
A few days later, we saw a Carvana commercial on TV and decided to give it a try – this is where things got really interesting. On the website, I provided some information about the car including the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and answered a few follow-up questions, Carvana made me an offer which was 12% more than Carmax’s.
I accepted the offer online and was asked to upload my driver’s license and proof of ownership, and a day later, I received an email asking me to choose an appointment for the car to be picked up. From that point on, I received emails and text messages from the agent coordinating the pickup process. A day later, the agent showed up with a pickup truck, gave me my check and rolled the car to the truck! My car was sold!
Back to the lessons for Tech Startups
- Where possible, invest in advertisement and promotion. It doesn’t have to be on TV or other expensive media but be very descriptive about the service you are offering. Carvana TV convinced me about how easy it was to sell my car using the service.
- User experience is everything, online and offline. The magic of an offer in the convenience of my office was great and the interaction with the agent afterward was equally satisfying. Remember, I had to drive for about 60 mins (return trip), waited for another 30 minutes for evaluation before receiving an offer 12% less. You know where I will be returning to, the next time.
- Process compliments technology – there were several steps outside my interaction with the Carvana platform but they made the experience synchronous. I didn’t think I was in a different environment, it was easy and you could tell that it has stood the test of time and they stand by it.
Wole (Tech RoundUp)
DEAL: Nigeria’s Cowrywise raises $3m pre-series A funding
Nigerian fintech startup, Cowrywise has raised $3m in pre-series A funding.
Nigerian fintech startup Cowrywise has raised $3m pre-series A funding.
This funding round was led by Washington DC-based Quona Capital, with participation from Sahil Lavingia, Tsadik Foundation, and a syndicate of local and diaspora based Nigerian angels.
Founded by Razaq Ahmed and Edward Popoola in 2017, Cowrywise gives Nigerian’s access to a range of goal-oriented savings and investment products.
The Quona led investment brings Cowrywise’s total funding amount to $3.3 million since its 2017 launch.
The company first introduced savings on its platform, followed by mutual funds and they currently have 19 different mutual funds and at least 20% of the total mutual funds in the country are listed on its platform.
According to Ahmed, while Nigerian’s millennials may have high digital connection levels, they lack access to high-quality savings and investment products. Which is what Cowrywise is offering.
The startup has more than 220,000 users currently. According to the Techcrunch, there are only half a million Nigerians actively investing in mutual funds. When compared to the total number of active bank accounts in the country of more than 40 million, it is obvious Cowrywise still has room to grow in the $3 billion markets.
This new funding will be used to increase its customer base and also expand its product offerings, support more fund managers in Nigeria, and build its investment management structure.
What you should know
- Cowrywise, an app that helps you easily plan, save, and invest online with the strongest interest rates and investment returns is the first Nigerian startup to be backed by Quona Capital.
- In June 2018, Cowrywise closed an Angel round of $50,000 led by Microtraction. In August 2018, it raised a $120,000 seed round from Y Combinator and another seed round from Kairos by December of the same year.
- It received undisclosed funding from K-50 Ventures in April 2019, before receiving an $80,000 grant from UK-DFID backed accelerator, Catalyst Fund. A first for a Nigerian startup.
- In February 2020, Quona Capital led the $14 million series A round for Kenyan eCommerce Startup, Sokowatch.
- The company has also significantly invested in South African startups like Lulalend, Yoco, ZOONA, and ALLLIFE.
Whatsapp to require biometric authentication for PC and web access
WhatsApp is adding a new biometric feature to confirm users’ identity when linking accounts to PC or the web.
WhatsApp is adding a new biometric feature to confirm your identity when you want to link your WhatsApp account to a PC or the web.
The social media app is rolling out this new feature for its web and desktop apps, which will let people create an additional authentication layer using biometrics when they want to use WhatsApp on desktop or web.
Users will now have the option (not a requirement) to add in a biometric login, which uses either a fingerprint, face ID, or iris ID — depending on the device — on Android or iPhone, to add in the second layer of authentication.
When implemented, it will appear for users before a desktop or web version can be linked up with a mobile app account.
WhatsApp told TechCrunch that it is going to be adding in more features this year to bring the functionality of the two closer together. There are still big gaps: for example, you can’t make calls on the WhatsApp web version.
To be clear, the biometric service, which is being turned on globally, will be opt-in: users will need to go to their settings to turn on the feature, in the same way, that today they need to go into their settings to turn on biometric authentication for their mobile apps.
WhatsApp has added that it will not be able to access the biometric information that you will store in your device and that it is using the same standard biometric authentication APIs that other secure apps, like banking apps, use.
This new feature will work alongside another, which sends your phone notifications whenever somebody logs into your account on the web or a computer.
What you should know
- The company has been getting a lot of backlashes since it announced it will now share its users’ personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, and more with Facebook from February 8, 2021.
Nigeria, now 2nd most corrupt country in West Africa – Transparency International
Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in W/Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the region.
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 report published by Transparency International indicates that Nigeria occupies the 149th position out of the 180 countries surveyed as well scored 25 out of 100 points.
With the current ranking, Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in West Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the sub-region.
It can be recalled that in the 2019 report, Nigeria was ranked 146th out of the 180 countries surveyed, scoring 26 points out of 100 points.
What you should know
- The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is an annual survey report published by Berlin-based Transparency International since 1995 which ranks countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
- The CPI scales zero (0) to 100, zero means “Highly Corrupt,” while 100 stands for “Very Clean”.
- Nigeria’s ranking on the corruption perception index has continued to drop in the last four years.
- With the current ranking, Nigeria is two steps worse off than she was in 2018 when she scored 27 points to place 144th out of 180 countries.
- Only 12 countries are perceived to be more corrupt than Nigeria in the whole of Africa. The countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Guinea Bissau, and South Sudan.
- Somalia and South Sudan remain the most corrupt nations on earth, according to the CPI 2020 ranking.
- Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Germany, Sweden Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands and Luxembourg are the least corrupt countries in the world.