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Business News

How API fintech startups are driving access to financial data across Africa – CEO, Mono

In an interview with Abdulhamid Hassan, CEO of Mono HQ, a fast-rising API fintech startup, we got to understand how their services are beneficial.

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In recent times, we have seen APIs grow from just a curious term among tech enthusiasts to become a core to many businesses. API’s have been highly valuable to developers and businesses because it acts as a communication channel between two services.

In Nigeria, API fintech startups have made a tremendous impact in the fintech space with the rise of API startups like Mono, Okra, and Onepipe that are building Africa’s API infrastructure for institutions and third-party companies for different purposes. These startups have garnered investors in a very short period of operation.

Why API startups?

An API makes it easier to integrate applications and services as it facilitates communication between them. APIs allow businesses to create ecosystems around their operations. Today, they are responsible for connecting people and systems thereby enabling the creation of a better user experience by simplifying access to information.

For example, instead of building its own mapping and payment services, Uber was able to leverage public APIs like Google Maps and a payment gateway and then deliver them in a mobile application that ended up changing the entire transportation industry across the globe.

Why open banking is important

Open banking is a banking practice that provides third-party financial service providers open access to consumer banking, transactions, and other financial data from banks and non-bank financial institutions through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Since fintech startups are fundamentally focused on providing financial solutions, they need access to financial data to continually create new solutions and also prove their value to prospective users. Open Banking provides the opportunity in the form of convenient access to financial data and services for them to scale up their customer base and products.

However, open banking also poses security threats such as data breaches due to poor security, the potential for a malicious third-party app to clean out a customer’s account, or insider threats from financial institutions that have become relatively widespread as more data becomes interconnected.

In an interview with Abdulhamid Hassan, CEO of Mono HQ, a fast-rising API fintech startup, we got to understand what they do and how their services are beneficial.

What was the inspiration for founding your startup?

The inspiration behind founding Mono came in a conversation between myself and Prakhar. We had just realized how difficult it was to find a service that could put all our financial accounts in one place so we could see them at the same time. There’s nothing quite like relating directly to a problem because it means you have first-hand knowledge of the difficulty it presents. We decided to build an app that could power account linking, and that’s how we walked into founding Mono.

What does Mono do and what sets you apart from other fintech startups?

Mono builds APIs and infrastructure that makes it easy for developers and businesses to create better experiences for their users. Our APIs act as a conduit to enable these businesses to access data and financial accounts. We don’t think of ourselves as a fintech startup, we’re more a data company that makes innovation possible. Today, it’s mostly fintech companies that we support with our user identity/account verification, statement collection, and direct debit services. Tomorrow, it could be Edtech or health tech.

What problems are you trying to solve in Nigeria and Africa?

Today, in Nigeria, there are lots of companies with products that require their customers’ financial data to function. Banks don’t have public APIs for businesses and developers to consume. Without this information, services that provide value to customers cannot be delivered optimally. But now, through our APIs, people are able to securely link their financial accounts, share their bank data like statements, transactions, and balances in seconds with other businesses.

Businesses are also able to verify the identity and account information of their users and more. With this infrastructure and these insights, businesses can provide better services and experiences for their customers, mitigate identity fraud, and even create new products off the back of these possibilities.

Jaiz bank

So, we’re solving the problem of inaccessibility to data and financial accounts, and enabling businesses to innovate and build for their customers.

Do you believe Nigeria is truly ready to adopt an open banking system?

We believe that while Open Banking is a fairly new financial practice in Nigeria, its adoption is spreading rapidly. This innovation can grow to make the adoption necessary, rather than something the financial system in the country has to be ready for.

What would be the role of API companies such as yourself in encouraging open banking in Nigeria?

Apart from powering more businesses in the African ecosystem to create endless possibilities and personalized experiences for the everyday user, our role is also to be an example of upheld data and privacy ethics.

What are your plans for expanding into other African markets?

Mono started out in Nigeria, but our mission is to power the internet economy in Africa. Our expansion plans see us moving into Ghana and Kenya, first to understand each market and the ways that Mono’s services can solve their problems, and then establish ourselves there.

Bottom line

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Since APIs are an effective way to enable the digital transformation of businesses, the ability for businesses to innovate and become early adopters of API services is the key to success and this will allow companies to move into new markets that they may never have considered.

Janet John is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the University of Uyo. She specializes in technical writing where she creates easy to read documentation, articles to clearly and efficiently explain highly complex processes. When she is not writing, she works as a freelance front-end developer

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Business News

Nigeria’s revenue crisis may further worsen as India cuts oil imports by $39.5 billion

The revenue to be earned by Nigeria has come under further threat due to India’s drop in crude oil importation.

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Now that oil is recovering, when will naira recover?

The revenue to be earned by Nigeria has come under further threat due to India’s drop in crude oil importation.

Data from India’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell showed that the country, which took over from the United States as Nigeria’s largest crude oil importer, reduced crude oil imports by $39.5 billion in April, compared to the same time the previous year.

According to a report from Punch, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria said that India’s crude oil imports from Nigeria in 2020 amounted to $10.03 billion, representing 17% of Nigeria’s total crude exports for the year.

India has been badly hit by a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic which led to a spike in infections in April and lockdown in major cities with the attendant negative effect on Nigeria’s oil sales.

The NNPC was prompted to drop the official standard price of its main export streams, Bonny Light, Brass River, Erha, and Qua Iboe, by 61-62 cents per barrel, below its April 2021 prices. They traded at $0.9, $0.8, $0.65, $0.97 per barrel respectively, below international benchmarks, as Oilprice.com showed.

India had been a major buyer of the not-too-light and not-too-heavy Nigerian crude that suited its refiners with the Indian Oil Corporation’s refineries reported to be operating at 95% capacity in April, down from 100%.

An official at the IOC was quoted as saying, “If cases continue to rise and curbs are intensified, we may see cuts in refinery runs and lower demand after a month.”

India reportedly bought more American and Canadian oil at the expense of Africa and the Middle East, reducing purchases from members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to around 2.86 million barrels per day.

Bottom line

This is not good news for Nigeria which is facing a serious revenue crisis as a result of a drop in crude oil receipts.

The federal government is also being forced by the prevailing realities to consider cutting the cost of governance and reducing the salaries of government workers. The latter proposal has, however, been criticized by various stakeholders.

A slump in crude oil demand from Nigeria’s major buyer will further worsen the economic crisis the country is facing having just marginally recovered from a recession in the last quarter of 2020.

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Business

Insecurity: Police to investigate threats by IPOB, Oodua Republic agitators in Lagos

The Lagos State Police Commissioner has revealed that threats by IPOB and Oodua Republic have come under its intelligence radar.

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The Nigerian Police says it will investigate threats made by separatist groups including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and agitators of Oodua Republic to attack soft targets in Lagos.

This was disclosed by Hakeem Odumosu, Commissioner of Police in Lagos State in a meeting to discuss insecurity in the state at Alausa in Ikeja, on Monday, according to a Vanguard report.

What the Police is saying about alleged IPOB and Oodua Republic threats in Lagos

“Our intelligence report revealed that, most miscreants now: Use abandoned buildings as hideouts and in most cases, initiation camp, use uncompleted buildings, dwelling house and hotels to hibernate before and after the commission of a crime,” the Police Chief said.

Furthermore, the threat of IPOB to attack soft targets in Lagos is equally being put on the radar of the command intelligence gathering and other security services in the state. Strategies are being put in place to neutralize their activities.

Similarly, the command has taken notice of agitators for the Oodua Republic by some Yoruba separatist groups and the threats to disrupt law and order in the state. 24 of these groups have been identified and are being closely monitored.

The command is using this medium to solicit for the support of all and sundry to be vigilant at all times and report any suspicious person or movement to security agencies. Let us adopt the slogan of “when you see something, say something,” he added.

What you should know

Today, the Lagos State Police Command said in a statement that: “Increase in robbery incidents were as a result of people migrating from troubled states down to Lagos. The government and relevant security agencies including RRS are doing their best in protecting members of the public.”

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