Africa may be the hottest market for fintech in the world in 2023, Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola says. And no part of the world needs fintech more, he believes.
The Challenge for Fintech in Africa
Africa desperately needs faster clearance payments, Agboola says, because Africans don’t have easy access to credit. When credit is generally available, speedy payment is not critical. But in a society lacking credit, speedy payments are essential.
The way Olugbenga Agboola tells the story, when he was working for the bank with the largest footprint on the continent, operating in nearly every country, he and his colleagues found that they could not help their customers scale their businesses. The problem wasn’t that the bank did not want its customers to have international business possibilities. The problem was that they did not have the technology, or the regulatory approvals, or the agility to transfer payments quickly and at scale.
At that time, if a merchant in Pretoria wanted to send a shipment to Lagos, the buyer would have to send a SWIFT code acknowledgment to the seller that the invoice for them had been paid. If the SWiFT payment did not, for any reason at all, not go through, then the transaction would not take place. And getting confirmation through the SWIFT system literally took longer than hopping on a plane to deliver a bag of money to the other party.
But why should two customers of the same bank need SWIFT?
This situation arose again and again. To deal with it, Agboola and colleagues created Flutterwave. It was Agboola’s hope that development of the new fintech might spur the evolution of the economies of African countries through a butterfly effect, hence the name Flutterwave.
Pandemic Spurs Flutterwave to Accommodate Small Businesses
At first, Olugbenga Agboola admits, Flutterwave was primarily interested in the larger players of African international trade. But dealing with the pandemic caused Flutterwave to realize that their platform could also accommodate small to medium sized businesses, right down to the banana vendor on a bicycle, plus provide a platform for ecommerce. From this realization, the Flutterwave of 2023 came to be.
Who Is Olugbenga Agboola?
Olugbenga Agboola, also known as GB, is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur and executive who has been at the forefront of the revolution in payments systems in Africa. He was the Co-founder, CEO and CTO of Flutterwave, an African payments technology company founded in 2016 with offices in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Olugbenga led Flutterwave to become one of the most successful fintech companies on the continent by bringing together banks, merchants and customers for easier access to cross-border payments.
Olugbenga graduated from Covenant University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and later earned a Master’s degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Olugbenga has built a reputation as an influential figure in the African payments space, aiding the continent’s transformation into a global digital economy. Olugbenga was also listed among Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs in 2018 and 2019 and is widely recognized for his role in driving innovation and entrepreneurship within the African payments ecosystem.