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Bhambani, Flutterwave CFO Resigns amidst $50m IPO Plans

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Oneal Bhambani, chief financial officer (CFO) at Flutterwave, has resigned, just over a year after joining the Africa’s leading payments company.

Bhambani, Flutterwave CFO Resigns amidst $50m IPO Plans

Bhambani, took to his LinkedIn to make the announcement public, saying “I wish everyone at Flutterwave the best and I will be rooting for you. Last week, I made the difficult decision to end my tenure at the company.”

His resignation is coming as the fintech company plans a $50 million investment in Kenya.

Bhambani joined Flutterwave after serving as CFO for American fintech Kabbage.

He was at Kabbage, a lending company, when it was acquired by American Express.

Post acquisition, he stayed on as an executive. He left American Express to join Flutterwave at a time when the company was facing fraud allegations in Kenya and battling court cases.

Flutterwave in Kenya has undergone what its Co-founder terms as ‘a baptism of fire”.

Alleged accusations of money laundering led the corruption watchdog, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), to shut down several of its bank accounts in the country.

The development saw the state freeze over USD 52 million of Flutterwave’s funds. However, the case was withdrawn and Flutterwave was granted access to its accounts on this occasion.

This year, a group of 2,468 Nigerian  Nationals obtained a court order to have 45 Flutterwave accounts in Kenya frozen alongside 10 Mobile Money Wallets.

The Nigerians claimed the pan African start-up was the vehicle used to defraud them of $12.04 million.

Bhambani’s time at the payments company was also marked by expansion into Rwanda as a licensed remittance company.

After making his resignation public, he has not announced his next move yet.

In the interim, Israel Koledowo, head of Finance for Africa, will serve as the Flutterwave’s CFO.

The company is set to begin a global search for a new CFO.

Meanwhile, despite, its troubles in Kenya, Flutterwave  plans a $50 million (Ksh7.3 billion) investment in Kenya.

Bhambani has quit as at crucial phase as the firm pushes for a payments and remittances licence in Kenya.

In September, Olugbenga Agboola, the company’s chief executive and co-founder confirmed that Flutterwave has received first-name approval from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

“We are looking at investing not less than $50 million. We are employing people. We are getting a new office and scaling up our infrastructure. There is a lot to do in Kenya,” said Mr Agboola.

Optimistic on receiving a payments and remittance licence from the regulator, Flutterwave has been hiring more staff to prepare the ground.

The firm has snapped up top talent from other fintech’s like Chipper Cash and tech companies including Safaricom and Microsoft. It is building a team while planning to set up a physical premise in the country.

Securing approval in Kenya will expand Flutterwave’s presence into additional African markets, including Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Cameroon, where the company already offers payment infrastructure solutions for merchants and service providers.

Bhambani, who previously served in the same role at American Express and Kabbage, joined Flutterwave in June 2022—a few months after the company secured a $250 million Series D at a valuation of over $3 billion.

Announcing his appointment at the time, Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola, founder and CEO of Flutterwave, said: “His track record of operating finance to enable scale and innovation with listed company standard financial controls will help us accelerate our growth as we continue to meet the needs of our expanding global customer base.”

Given that his appointment occurred a few months after the company had been accused of financial misconduct, some analysts contended that Bhambani’s hiring was imperative.

They argued that since the scandal primarily centred on financial issues, an experienced CFO could have either prevented or more effectively controlled the problems.

Earlier this year, allegations of financial misconduct against Flutterwave in Kenya were dismissed. Subsequently, the fintech company has initiated a series of strategic hires to facilitate its expansion in the East African nation.

Moreover, it has unveiled intentions to invest $50 million in the country. In August, Flutterwave received name approval from the Central Bank of Kenya, a significant step towards obtaining its remittance and payment licenses.

In August, Flutterwave partnered with IndusInd, the sixth largest bank in India by assets, to expand its remittance product, Send App to the South Asian country. Before the expansion announcement, Agboola said that it was moving forward with plans for an initial public offering (IPO), which it first publicly indicated in 2022.

“The timing of the listing will be determined by many factors.

Currently, we’re dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Like any company in our position, we consider multiple strategic opportunities. I can’t share any details regarding listing venues,” Agboola said.

 

Flutterwave processes over 500,000 daily payments and operates across 34 African countries, accepting payments in more than 30 different currencies.

The platform offers a wide array of payment options, exceeding 15, and it receives over 20 million API calls each day.

Additionally, as of February 2022, Flutterwave’s e-commerce solution amassed a network of more than 30,000 merchants.

Their rapidly growing product, Flutterwave Send, which debuted in December 2021, processed 4,729 transactions amounting to $3.6 million in its first full month of operation.

This product attracted customers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Nigeria.

By March 2021, Flutterwave had processed 140 million transactions totaling over $9 billion. By February 2022, the number of transactions processed had surged by more than 40%, reaching 200 million transactions, with the transaction value soaring by 78% to $16 billion.

During the same period, the number of businesses utilising Flutterwave’s diverse payment methods globally tripled, growing from 290,000 to 900,000, according to Contrary Research.

 

 

 

 

 


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E-Financial

Afreximbank Mulls Currency Trading Platform to Bridge $50bn Intra-Africa Trade Gap

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The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced plans to launch its currency trading platform in a bid to bridge the Intra-African trade financing gap estimated at over $50 billion annually.

The President and Chairman of Board of Directors, Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah disclosed this at the 8th Goddy Jidenma Foundation (GJF) biennial public lecture tagged, “The trade route to poverty reduction in Africa in a de-globalising world.”

He said plans are ongoing to launch the platform in May, 2024, stating the urgent need to aggressively fill the intra-African trade gap.

Afreximbank, he said, operates an intra-African Trade Division that has disbursed over $40 billion since 2016, with an amount of about $11 billion outstanding, equivalent to about 28 per cent of Afreximbank’s loan portfolio.

According to him, “The Currency Trading Platform will also be launched under the auspices of Pan-African payment and settlement system (PAPSS).

“It is now becoming possible for a small farmer in Malawi to use his cell phone to purchase a Nollywood streaming movie and pay in the Malawian Kwacha while the seller in Nigeria receives Naira. We are nearing the stage when an Egyptian can buy shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange paying in Egyptian Pounds.”

The Afreximbank boss said access to trade and investment information is key, “as lack of access is perhaps the greatest impediment to intra-regional trade.”

To address this challenge, He said Afreximbank offers an Artificial Intelligence-enabled Trade Information Platform under the brand name Tradar Intelligence.

“It is for the same reason that Afreximbank collaborates with the African Union Commission (AUC), the AfCFTA Secretariat, and others to host a biennial intra-African trade Fair. The three editions so far held since 2018 attracted an aggregate of over 70,000 visitors, 4,000 exhibitors and about 120 billion US dollars in deals,” he said.

On the status of implementation, he said the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Secretariat is operational in Accra, Ghana where 54 countries have signed the Agreement, and 47 have ratified it.

“While much progress has been made, a lot is still required to ensure that trading under the Agreement is boosted. For example, to avoid its falling victim to the discontent that negatively impacted globalisation, the AfCFTA must be complimented by the Free movement of Africans across the continent, with the right to work.

Although 32 countries have signed the Treaty, only four countries ratified it, falling short of the required 15 ratifications for the Free Movement Protocol to enter into force. We must continue to make aggressive push for countries to ratify the Treaty so as to get the requisite ratifications for it to come into force,” he urged.

Also speaking, the Founder and Executive Secretary, GJF, Dr. Ije Jidenma, said there is a perfect congruence between Prof. Oramah’s Pan African vision and the GJF quest to be part of the national think tank and solution to the nation’s developmental challenges.

“Even though the developmental turf is tough, as a seasoned public intellectual and one with a great sense of history, Prof Oramah is one person that is not ready to give up hope about Africa’s renaissance,” she said.

On his part, the Chairman, Board of Trustees GJF, Pat Utomi, said the world has gone through rounds of globalisation, recession and war, advising that the challenge is for Nigeria to think outside the box on ways it cpuld prosper in this new swing in Africa.


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E-Financial

OPay Redefines Customer Service With Innovative Solutions, Expands Accessibility

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OPay, Nigeria’s leading financial technology company headquartered in Lagos, has revolutionized customer service by prioritizing user satisfaction and implementing cutting-edge solutions to enhance customer experiences.

OPay

OPay is pioneering a customer service revolution built on convenience and efficiency. Recognizing the diverse needs of its users, OPay offers a top-notch and seamless blend of physical and digital touchpoints, ensuring everyone receives the exceptional service they deserve.

With the company’s headquarters situated in Lagos, OPay has established a network of 17 customer service centers across the country, catering to individuals who prefer face-to-face interactions for their service-related queries and concerns.

This extensive network guarantees easy access to friendly support, a welcome respite from long queues and impersonal interactions. But OPay doesn’t stop there. For the users that prefer online enquiries and technical resolutions, a robust and responsive online customer service center awaits.

Users can access a wealth of self-service resources, chat with helpful Customer Service Agents (CSAs) via real-time Live Chat, and even report disputes directly through the App. No more frustrating hold times or inconvenient branch visits – OPay puts the power in user’s hands, wherever they are.

Mr. Dauda Gotring, Managing Director of OPay stated that, “Transparency and timely resolution are cornerstones of the OPay experience. Dispute issues like transfer or card problems are handled with diligence, with progress updates and a satisfying resolution timeline conveniently communicated within the App.”

He further added that, “With a dedicated team of over 500 Customer Service Agents, OPay ensures exceptional care around the clock. Whether you need a quick query answered or complex assistance, a friendly and knowledgeable representative is always just a click away.”

THE KEY FEATURES OF OPAY’S ENHANCED CUSTOMER SERVICE INCLUDE:

Progress Updates Through the App:

Customers now have the ability to report disputes directly through the OPay app. The company ensures transparency by updating customers on the progress of their reported issues, such as transfer disputes or card-related concerns, along with a well-defined resolution timeline. This feature empowers users with real-time information and reassurance during the resolution process.

Live Chat with OPay Customer Service Agents:

OPay has introduced a Live Chat option, available online 24/7, where customers can connect with more than 500 Customer Service Agents (CSAs). This instant and interactive channel allows users to seek assistance, resolve queries, and receive support at their convenience. The Live Chat feature underscores OPay’s commitment to accessible and responsive customer service.

As OPay continues to lead the way in financial technology, these customer-centric innovations solidify the company’s position as a trailblazer in the industry. By combining traditional face-to-face support with cutting-edge online solutions, OPay aims to create a seamless and satisfying experience for its diverse user base.


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E-Financial

CBN Raises BDC’s Share Capital to N2bn

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has proposed two categories of Bureau De Change (BDC) licence- Tier 1 and Tier 2- that would see the minimum capital requirement of operators in the former and latter categories pegged at N2 billion and N500 million respectively.

The apex bank stated this in the draft Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines for BDC operations in Nigeria posted on its website late on Friday.

Under the extant regulations, BDCs had to apply for a general license and have a minimum capital requirement of N35 million.

The new guidelines contain several new changes to the guidelines for BDC operations in the country. If approved, the new guidelines will be effective at a date that will be announced by the CBN.

Specifically, the proposed new guidelines state that: “Tier 1 BDC is authorized to operate on a national basis. It can open branches and may appoint franchisees, subject to the approval of the CBN. A Tier 1 BDC (which is the franchisor) shall exercise supervisory oversight over its franchisees. All franchisees shall adopt their franchisor’s name, branding, technology platform and rendition requirements.

“A Tier 2 BDC is authorized to operate only in one state or the FCT. It may have up to three locations – a head office and two branches, subject to approval of the CBN. It is not permitted to appoint franchisees.”

Furthermore, in addition to the N2 billion capital requirement, a Tier 1 BDC is expected to pay an N200 million mandatory caution deposit, N1 million non-refundable application fee, N5 million non-refundable license fee and N5 million non-refundable annual fee.

Tier 2 BDC operators, apart from N500 million minimum share capital, are expected to deposit a mandatory caution deposit of N50 million as well as non-refundable application and license fees of N250,000 and N2 million respectively.

In addition, Tier 2 BDCs are expected to pay a non-refundable annual fee of N1 million.

The apex bank also stated that the prescribed minimum capital of BDCs and any subsequent capital injection shall be subject to its verification.

On operators’ permissible and non-permissible activities, the new guidelines propose that BDCs should 25 per cent of foreign exchange purchased for Business Travel Allowance or Personal Travel Allowance in cash while the remaining 75 per cent should be transferred electronically to the customer’s Nigerian domiciliary account or prepaid card.

However, the guidelines said that customers receiving $500 or less than $500 should be paid fully in cash.

The guidelines also stipulate that BDCs should retrieve resident customers’ Bank Verification Numbers, (BVN), or Tax Identification Numbers, TIN before carrying out foreign exchange transactions.

Other highlights of the guidelines include: “A BDC or its franchisee shall not engage in the following activities: Street-trading, maintaining any type of account for any member of the public, including accepting any asset for safekeeping/custody; Taking deposits from or granting loans to members of the public in any currency and in any form;

“Retail sale of foreign currencies to non-individuals, except for BTA International outward transfers; Engaging in off-shore business or maintaining the foreign correspondent relationship with any foreign establishment; Opening or maintaining any account with any bank or financial institution outside Nigeria;

“Acting as custodian of foreign currency on behalf of customers; International inward transfers, except for operators that serve as cash-out points for IMTOs;

“Borrowing sums which in aggregate exceed the equivalent of 30 per cent of its shareholders’ funds unimpaired by losses, in the BDC’s audited financial statements of the preceding year;

“ Engaging in forwards, futures, options, or other derivative/speculative transactions; obtaining foreign exchange from sources other than those listed in Section 4.0;

“ Granting of loans and advances in any currency; selling foreign exchange on credit to any customer; engaging in any trade-related import activities and serving as payment or collection agents on behalf of customers.”


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