BusinessDay

Nigeria’s Fintech landscape in 2021

Experts say 2021 has been a special year for Nigerian fintech companies with a higher number of companies across verticals, experiencing significant growth in all areas, maturity of players, and a lot of funding.

There was almost no month without a fintech fundraising announcement. This captures how busy 2021 has been for the tech ecosystem in Nigeria, and the fintech space particularly. About 73 percent of all investments to tech companies in country went to fintech companies.

2021 saw a move towards the digital banking and financial app strategy. Agency banking grew with companies including TeamApt who recently announced their transaction value of about 14 trillion in 2021.

Here are some of the numbers and themes that defined the Fintech landscape

$1.09b

In 2021, 102 Nigerian startups raised $1.09 billion, and 73.5 percent went to startups in the Financial Services space. The closest industry to Financial Services was eCommerce (marketplace) with 13.8 percent.

Two fintech startups each raised 9 digits in dollars, 6 of the 13 Nigerian startups that raised 8 digits were also fintechs.

$800m and higher valuation

Nigerian Fintechs raised about $800 million in 2021. To mention a few fintech companies who made up more than half of the total money raised this year, Kuda’s $55 million Series B round after raising $25 million earlier in the year, FairMoney raised $45 million and repositioned as a credit-led Neobank. Also, Mono raised a $15 million Series A round after raising a $2 million seed round, Flutterwave $170 million from Tiger Global and other investors, as well as Opay who reached over $2billion in valuation after raising $400million from Softbank Vision Fund.

Read also: Why Nigeria is Africa’s favorite market for fintech investors

Fintech valuations remained very high in 2021 as investors continued to see the space as attractive. According to CB Insights, Q2 2021 was the largest funding quarter on record globally. Across 657 deals, global venture cash-backed Fintech companies raised a record high in the full year.

Funding activity grew in nearly all Fintech subsectors except for wealth tech and capital markets tech. The digital lending, banking sectors saw the most pronounced deal activity growth quarter on quarter.

Two Unicorns

Opay and Flutterwave attained the Unicorn status this year, with a $400 million investment in a Series C round raised by Opay, from seven Chinese-based venture investors which include SoftBank Vision Fund as the lead, Softbank Ventures Asia, 3W Capital, Source Code Capital, Redpoint Ventures China, Longzhu Capital and Sequoia Capital China.

OPay, founded by Yahui Zhou in June 2018 is a company that enables users to accomplish more with their money by providing smart financial services. It is a one-stop mobile-based platform for payment, transportation, food and grocery delivery, and other

In March 2021, Flutterwave raised a $170 million Series C funding round. The investors who led this funding are Avenir Growth Capital, Tiger Global Management.

Flutterwave founded by Olugbenga GB Agboola and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji in 2016 provides technology, infrastructure, and services to enable global merchants, payment service providers, and helps banks and businesses build secure and seamless payment solutions for their customers by smoothening the exchange of funds.

N220.93 trillion

According to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the amount of money transferred electronically also known as E-payments have surged since 2019 from N105 trillion naira to N220.93 trillion in 2021.

This rise was fuelled by fintech companies including Flutterwave, Paystack, TeamApt, Interswitch, Paypad, PayU, remita, among others which developed easy-to-use payment solutions for individuals and businesses.

CBN’s Policy

Among several policies made by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2021, freezing the bank accounts of digital investment and trading platforms including Risevest, Bamboo, Trove and Chaka was one.

This was done to probe the financial activities of these four fintech companies in Nigeria, after allegations of operating without license as asset management companies and utilizing FX sourced from the Nigerian FX market for purchasing foreign bonds/shares.

This caused a loss of a lot of users and deposits, as well as the companies’ reputation being damaged. It took a lot of explaining and convincing to get users to trust that their money was safe and the activities of the fintech platform is legal.

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