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“Why OPay is growing stronger as a financial services platform” – Country Manager, Iniabasi Akpan

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In this interview, OPay’s COuntry Manager Iniabasi Akpan discusses Opay’s growth in the past few months and how the company has been able to scale its payments and agent business during COVID-19.

He also touches on the company realigning its efforts around its ride-hailing businesses and why tough decisions are part of the growing process when building a profitable company.

How has business been for OPay as in the first half of 2020?
Quite interesting and exciting. Our offline and online transactions value saw a 80% growth from January to June, despite the pandemic hitting the country in the first quarter of the year. We also saw a 20-30% month-to-month gross margin growth in our wallet business and a 163% growth in our POS transactions from January to April.
We now lead in terms of mobile money transactions. We currently attribute to 1/5 of POS transactions in Nigeria and around 60% of bank transfers among leading mobile money operators, according to NIBSS data.

With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading into Nigeria early in the year, how has OPay been able to navigate through these trying times?
For us, we’ve seen an increase in deposits and withdrawals via our mobile money agents. We believe a part of this increase is due to the lockdown a few weeks ago as well as people feeling more comfortable walking up to our agents instead of visiting crowded spaces.

Our mobile money agents, 300,000 of them, are spread across the country and can easily be located with our “Nearby Agent” feature in the app.

OPay recently announced that it is suspending its ride-hailing business unit including services like ORide, OExpress and Ocar. Can you please share more light on this business move?
First some think ride-hailing is all of OPay. But reality is that it has always been only one of many of our businesses, and not even the largest one our agency and online payment business is larger.

Secondly, this is largely due to the business conditions which have affected many Nigerian companies, including ours, during this COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, ride-hailing services have had to considerably scale down their business operations or shutdown completely with many losing their jobs. Sadly, it is not an exception for our ride-hailing services including the newly pivoted logistics business.

Tough decisions are always going to be made; for us, it comes down to what business units have been impacted the most by the pandemic and what is the foreseeable future for them. For OPay,
What makes OPay stand out from competitors?
I can go on and on about how brilliant our strategies are and steps we’ve taken to outperform our competitors but I’d like to say it’s the people who work here. They are all passionate about building seamless solutions to foster financial inclusion across the country. The vision of our company is one that is shared by every person who works here and we hold it dear to our hearts.

You have carried out quite a number of CSR efforts in the past month including donating face masks to hospitals…

Yes, in April, we raised a 50 Million Naira fund to provide medical supplies to frontline health workers as well as relief support for the less privileged during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are a successful company because Nigerians have patronized us over the years. This gesture is the least we can do. We hope this inspires other companies in the private sector to follow suit.

What does the next half of 2020 look like for OPay?
Well, we will continue to focus our efforts on further scaling our businesses. This includes expanding our agent banking business which currently boasts of about 300,000 agents across the country. We are also excited about our newly launched savings product – FlexiFixed and how our customers are already using it very quickly
For our eCommerce business, OPay will continue to invest in and grow in the space, aligning its B2B and B2C business units which will continue to operate.


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