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From Payroll to Remita: The story of Nigeria’s FinTech giant

Till Financial Technology, FinTech, became a buzzword a few years ago, it was all about Information and Communications Technology (ICT). And in the Nigeria of the 1990s, everything could be linked to ICT, even the remotest of things. Indeed, ICT was the miracle worker and at the root of some of humanity’s greatest achievements. Every era has its own “ICT”.

FinTech, as an expression that describes how technology is transforming the financial world, has been traced to as far back as the 1950s when the world knew and experienced its first credit cards. From then till present-day, one element has remained constant about FinTech in all its manifestations: it is a breakaway from the norm, a’la disruption. This disruption is not unto chaos but onto the advancement of services across the value chain.

And that is the very root of SystemSpecs, one of Nigeria’s leading financial technology firms. Founded in 1991, the Nigerian firm has moved from merely being an ICT player to becoming a game-changer in FinTech. But till 2006, SystemSpecs was known only as a frontline payroll firm and developer of HumanManager, the human capital and payroll management solution that set the standard and remains a reference point globally for other players.

The firm always sought to meet market yearnings for software that reflect the realities of Nigerian employment, incentives and taxation systems. “I must say we were not conscious of the impact we were going to make, especially with HumanManager. We were just concerned with developing an application that works. Now, we find it having a strong impact on organisations and society,” says John Obaro, the Managing Director of SystemSpecs.

HumanManager undeniably launched the firm onto a new pedestal. The solution has successfully managed the payroll and human capital processes of more than 300 organisations in Nigeria and across the African continent for more than two decades.

“The big break for us came with payroll, when we had the opportunity of working with the World Bank, to manage payroll for the federal government. It was a pilot study on about 50,000 workers,” Obaro adds.

2006 was defining in the history of the company. Remita, a name that has become even better known than SystemSpecs, was launched to the world. It was the first time ever that a single solution would allow anyone access their account balances across different banks on a single screen. It was significant marker of SystemSpecs’ entry into FinTech.

But Remita isn’t just about the ability to view account balances across different banks, it also enables its users—whether individuals, businesses or governments—to make payments through nine channels including the business’ website, internet banking, PoS, credit/debit cards, and any bank branch.

With Remita, anyone anywhere can make payments easily and businesses can expand their marketing reach, knowing that getting paid is no longer a thing to worry about. They could also track every transaction real-time and benefit from comprehensive reporting across multiple platforms and formats. That goes without mentioning the capability of the solution to bring unparalleled ease to the HR needs of organisations.

Speaking about the impact of Remita on government payments, Obaro adds that with solution, “people are now conscious that for whatever they do, there are footprints that can easily be traced. This has brought some discipline to the society and we’re delighted to be part of that change process.”

Now in its 26th year, SystemSpecs has been able to stand the test of time, despite the turbulence along the way. Perhaps that is attributable to the premium place its customers occupy and the visionary management it has in place. Whatever it is, SystemSpecs, Nigeria’s leading FinTech, seems to have a winning formula.


Dawodu Abdulsalam

Dawodu Abdulsalam is a Kogi-based technology enthusiast

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