From Paylater to Carbon: What is in the name?


Without a doubt, 2019 is turning out to be the year where companies rethink their corporate identities and take up new ones they feel aligns with the future they see. Earlier this year, Piggybank and Taxify both with big operations in the Nigerian market transitioned to PiggyVest and Bolt reflecting their new futures.

On Monday, one of the biggest news in the Nigerian fintech landscape was confirmation of the much anticipated rebranding of Paylater, a former consumer lending platform, to Carbon. The co-founder and CEO of the company Chijioke Dozie had told BusinessDay in an interview that the name change was imminent and expected in the month of April.

“It will be something major,” he said.

What is Carbon?  Taking literary, carbon is a chemical element that exists in different forms, including graphite, diamond and graphene and depending on its form carbon has different properties.

In a video interview posted on their social media platforms, Ngozi Dozie, a co-founder of the new Carbon suggested it was the limitless qualities of the element that informed the name choice.

“Carbon is everywhere, it is essential, we hope that is how you will see us,” he said.
Changing a business name is a major decision that most forward-looking organizations – no matter their size do not take lightly. A strong business name identifies the brand, tells customers and prospects something meaningful about the business and helps to differentiate the business from competition. In the mind of the co-founders of Paylater, the brand was okay so long as they remained a lending services company, but that vision was for the short term as growth trajectory of the company clearly indicated.

Since it was launched in 2016, Carbon has deployed over $60 million across 750,000 loans, approving over 1,500 loans a day with an average of $80 per loan.

“Any review of our old brand would conclude that the name ‘Paylater’ was no longer a true reflection of who we are and our promise to customers going forward,” says the CEO in a personal post on Medium.

From 2018 the company began increasing the new features on its flagship mobile application that enabled customers to not only borrow money but also transfer money, save and invest in credit facilities. The company has also launched Bloom, a support system for female business owners

In a statement confirming the rebrand the company said the choice of Carbon goes beyond banking and helps it position itself as a financial partner for its customers. The transition is to lay the foundations for Carbon’s focus on providing a wide portfolio of services for its customers, as it introduces in-app credit reports and provides credit via QR codes, in partnership with Visa.

“It was very deliberate – most of our customers only know us as Paylater which conjures up images of credit, but we have grown as a company to offer so much more,” says Chijioke Dozie.

“Carbon is one of the most essential elements for human life. It is found in all life and is extremely versatile. So to us, Carbon represents our aspiration to go everywhere with our customers, become an essential part of their lives and be versatile enough to change or innovate to fulfill their needs. We know what our customers’ pain points and needs are when it comes to banking in Africa and we are building financial products around them.”

As part of its new ambitions, Carbon also plans to move into the health insurance sector, starting first with existing customers as it looks to lessen the burdens Nigerians currently face in accessing and paying for it. In the future, Carbon will also be launching their very own virtual Visa card for customers to handle transactions.

The CEO said the virtual Visa card will be proof that the company has fully shifted from just digital lending to an all-round digital finance platform.

“We are in a competitive space but whoever serves the customer best will reap the rewards,” Ngozi Dozie noted. “That’s been the thinking behind our product evolution, whether it is our Bloom account targeted at female entrepreneurs or the partnerships we have been working on in the healthcare sector. The focus is on being attentive to what our customers want and need.”

With the rebrand finally settled, the company rounds off what has been a very busy first quarter for Carbon, after they acquired payments company Amplify, cementing their move into multiple strands of financial services. Carbon also secured a $5 million investment from fintech platform Lendable highlighting a bubble of activity for the company and in 2018, it became the first African fintech platform to secure a Credit Rating.

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