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In the latest episode of Marketplace Africa, CNN’s Larry Madowo takes a look at how financial technology companies in Nigeria are building their consumer base by helping budding investors buy into cryptocurrencies, stocks, and more.
In recent years, young Nigerians have increasingly turned to digital investment platforms to grow their wealth.
One fintech company offering multiple options is Cowrywise, which has been trying to tap into Nigeria’s $3 billion financial industry since it launched in 2017. Its co-founder and CEO Razaq Ahmed says there was a need to meet young people where they are, “We are at the stage in Nigeria, where we have a lot of digital expression in our lifestyle. And what that enables us to do is, an automatic platform to reach out to people in a way that ordinarily wouldn’t have been possible. What we’ve done is to make investment as simple as sending a tweet, and that resonates a lot with the younger generation. And that is the next stage for investment, not just in Nigeria, it’s a global trend.”
Homegrown platforms like Buycoins say their users, largely composed of millennials, are taking advantage of its benefits. Buycoins co-founder Tomiwa Lasebikan explains, “Nigeria is very culturally entrepreneurial. And people want to take a lot of risks. But then there have been very limited opportunities to do so. What you have with crypto today is access to global financial opportunities and people who already have the inclination towards taking a bit of risk are actually able to try their hands at that.” Both Cowrywise and Buycoins say that user behaviour on their platforms is giving them hope for the future. But both also recognise the challenges facing the fintech sector in Nigeria. Lasebikan tells CNN about the need for more support from reputable institutions, “The more reputable institutions and traditional institutions get involved in the space, the better it is. We’ve tried to put in a lot of effort into encouraging more reputable fintechs, more reputable banks to understand the space and to be more willing to have a vested interest.”
Ahmed also speaks about these challenges, and the need to reduce regulatory risks, “When you’re able to reduce the regulatory risk, it’s actually extremely important. Also, it also makes it easier for companies or for the participants in that space to easily attract investment, in order to actually expand and grow.”
For these industry players, strengthening the Nigerian economy will only help accelerate growth. Ahmed says he hopes young people will lead the way, “The economic managers needs to do their part, but the young people are already doing theirs. What they need right now is just a lever that can support their efforts to multiply the benefits. I’m extremely hopeful that the key to unlocking our future partly rests with the efforts and the innovation young people are bringing to the table right now.”