Chimezie Emewulu and Chibuzor Onwurah are the managing director and the executive director (Technology) of Seamfix Nigeria Limited respectively and also co-founders of FuelVoucher.com.ng.
Emewulu is a result-oriented leader, reformer and strategist with a comprehensive business and technical background. He is driven by a “hardwired” need to strategize, to innovate and to disprove the words “It cannot be done!” His work over the years has seen him negotiate and drive to business closure various mission- critical projects for brands such as IBM, First Bank, Airtel and Oando.
Onwura is a talented and versatile business and technology executive with over 7 years of sound IT industry experience in business strategy, product development, technology management as well as business process consulting. Like his business partner, Onwurah’s work over the years has seen him oversee the planning, development and execution of projects for brands such as IBM, First Bank, Airtel and Oando.
In line with the cashless initiative of the CBN they co-founded www.fuelvoucher.cm.ng.
In this Interview with peter ugwu, they expatiated on the new developments with the app to make it de-facto cashless method of purchasing petrol and fuel gifting service in Nigeria, with a vision to expand to the rest of Africa.
Defining the FuelVoucher App
FuelVoucher.com.ng was born out of the frustrations our company Seamfix Nig. Ltd faced in dealing with our fueling process as relating to managing drivers, reconciliation of fuel purchases and tracking fueling expenditures.
Prior to the onset of the service, we would have to give our drivers cash or in order to avoid this, depositsome money in a particular stationin order to purchase fuel.
Unfortunately, these options made it very difficult for our admin mangers and accountants to reconcile and monitor the fueling processes because we were limited to paper receipts that could either get missing or damaged.
Factors That Inspired FuelVoucher App
Due to the mentioned constraints, we decided to come up with a solution to help solve our problem; which we also found out was common with companies in Nigeria. We had found a gap in the market that we, as an IT company could solve.
Therefore we decided to create a solution that would efficiently manage our fueling process and save us the hassle of daily reconciliations.
We went on to build FuelVoucher.com.ng to be an efficient means of purchasing fuel on the go without having to deal with cash , cards or paper vouchers.
We built a system that anyone could easily access by signing into FuelVoucher online.
Purchasing Fuel Online: What the Public Needs to Know
Getting started with FuelVoucher is pretty easy. The process involves the potential user visiting www.fuelvoucher.com.ng and signing in with a number and email address or downloading the mobile app from the Google play store.
The application gives the customer access to a fuel wallet that can be toped up via a debit card or bank transfer.
Whenever the individual needs to purchase fuel all he/she needs to do is to input the voucher amount and indicate the beneficiary required that is, who he/she wants to purchase for.
An alpha numeric code will then be sent to the beneficiary as a text message and email which can then be taken to the station and presented to the attendant.
The attendant confirms the code on the FuelVoucher device and dispenses fuel to the customers.
It is common knowledge that internet connection in Nigeria is not alwaysavailable and due to this, we decided to include an option that would enable customers purchase fuel via the site without necessarily having to log into the internet.
We created a feature called FuelDirect that allows you purchase fuel at the station by inputting a four digit pin into the FuelVoucher device at the station without pre-generating a code on the site.
The pin provided is tied to the customers fuel wallet therefore whenever the customer wants to fuel his vehicles, he simply punches in his/her pin,phone number and voucher amount he wants to purchaseon the FuelVoucher device.
We also have what we call a Sub-account feature that helps companies with large fleetsof cars to allocate a certain amount to their driversinstead of generating codes for all the drivers. The drivers are given a certain allocation that they can fuel from per time.
FuelVoucher and Prudent Financial Management
Every transaction that occurs via the site is recorded per time and can be retrieved whenever the customer needs the information.
In order words, from the system you can view the history of all fuel purchases which includes information of who, when and where voucher codes were used, as well as the amount purchased. When we were building the site, we decided to think about the sort of information an individual would need to be able to effectively manage his fueling both for himself and for a anorganization.
FuelVoucher.com.ng is HTTPS secure and hence provides encrypted communication with our servers.
All data inputted by the customer is also encrypted and operations performed are audit trailed. Also, reports of transaction cannot be deleted off the system. Therefore it is impossible for an employee to delete any transaction history to hide fraudulent activities.
FuelVoucher Catchment Areas
For now we have petrol stations as partners who are based in Lagos and Port Harcourt that serve hundreds of our customers.
We are also working hard to expand partnership scope for easier access, availability and efficiency.
We just signed a partnership agreement with Interswitch that will help broaden our coverage to reach most stations across the nation. Every station that has an Interswitch POS would have FuelVoucher available.
Cases & Causes of Reversal of E-Wallet Payments
Well, we reverse payments in some cases, depending on the genuineness of the complaints.
Nevertheless, we have not experienced a case where a fuel station refused to dispense fuel for a customer after the necessary verifications have been concluded.
However, in a situation whereby a customer miscalculates the voucher amount needed, such transaction can be reversed by the customer.
Developing Features on the App
There cannot be stagnancy in business and as such we are continuously changing and improving features on the site.
We often ask for customer feedback to help us know and understand customer needs in order to make the relevant changes.
Differentiating FuelVoucher from Regular eCommerce Platforms
What we do already sets us apart from others. FuelVoucher is not just an e-commerce platform,
but hopes to actually become a primary fulfillment channel for e-fuel.
We are building a phenomenal solution that will enable people to be able to send fuel around to each other and this will totally change the way people see fuel. During the fuel scarcity quagmire we
noticed that people were searching for alternate ways to make purchases like using the
In the light of this discovery, we are now considering delivering fuel to customers in the future. In the real sense, we are not competing with the likes of Jumia, Konga,
Kaymu, etc., rather we are partnering with oil marketers to push the business forward.
How Pocket Friendly is the Service Charge?
Presently, the service is offered free of charge to all users. We are running a free-trial period and at the same time, conducting research on how the customers will prefer to be
charged for the service. Our current focus is on enlarging our current customer base.
Customer Satisfaction and Channels for Complaints
Any business that has a future must have listening ears, therefore we have put in place a proficient Customer Service system.As a startup, it is not just enough to have customer service in place, availability and accessibility make the circle complete. We have available contact lines, are active on social media and ensure to treat our customers with dignity.
Gifts and Incentives
We encourage our customers to send Fuel Vouchers as gifts to loved ones especially during festive seasons.
Studies have shown that in Nigeria, fuel is one of the most valued commodities and as such we also market FuelVoucher to companies to be given out as promo gifts to their customers or as incentives to staff that have distinguished themselves.
Impact of Internet Access and Broadband Availability
We are excited that internet penetration in the country continues on upward trends. The
Government is beginning to realize that broadband should be regarded as a social amenity.
Therefore, the best incentive government can offer SMEs, especially those in the e-commerce
Sub-sector is to provide infrastructure that will enable more broadband availability and access.
FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model
National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has pledged to give necessary support to TStv Africa as the indigenous digital satellite TV service begins full operation with pay per view model on October 1, 2020.
Professor Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of NBC, made the promise on Monday in Abuja when the management team of TStv paid him an official visit.
The visit was to inform him of the company‘s readiness to commence full operation across the country on October 1.
TStv Africa is a wholly-owned Nigerian innovative multi-channel outfit which had promised to operate a pay per view model for the benefit of Nigerians.
Idachaba said: “We promise on our side that we will continue to support you.
“At this time, I think that the major issue confronting the PayTv sector is the area of giving Nigerians option of deregulating purchasing capacity in terms of pay as you go concept.
“We believe this will give you the visibility if you remain committed to the idea.
“We welcome that option and wish that it serves as a stimulant and as a progressive index for other pay-TV operators to adopt.
“Some of them have come up with a lot of excuses why pay per view is difficult and why it is not doable.
“We want you to be the galvaniser to prove the naysayers wrong that this is doable in the interest of Nigerians.
“Once you begin and you make a success of it through increased subscription base, we are sure that others will be drawn into it as it happened in the telecommunication sector.”
Idachaba said the NBC is committed to promoting local participation in the nation’s broadcasting industry, especially in the pay-TV sector, to create jobs and provide diversity for Nigerians.
He acknowledged the challenges TStv had faced over the years and encouraged the company to remain focused.
“We are aware that it has been very challenging for you.
“All over the world dominant players will always want to remain in a dominant position.
” Those who want to survive will also have to take the courage to do so,” he said.
The Acting Director-General, however, admonished the firm to refrain from any activity that would give Nigeria a bad name.
“If you are acquiring rights, you must make sure that your rights are legitimately acquired.
“You must make sure you follow the rules of engagement strictly, study the broadcasting code strictly to have a robust future ahead of you,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Echefu Bright, managing director and CEO of TStv, said they were at the NBC to seek the commission’s support to have a peaceful roll out on October 1.
He said the outfit also visited the NBC to officially present samples of its decoders to the commission and thank the management for its support.
Bright gave an assurance that the novel pay per view concept was sacrosanct.
“The model is what we have experimented and implemented and it works and we have done everything we need to do for it Nigerians to benefit.
“Beyond that, we have enough boxes on ground that will cover the entire country,” he said.
Bright also gave an assurance that with the Oct.1 roll out, every part of the country would be covered.
“We currently have a dealership in virtually every state in Nigeria and as I speak to you now our goods are already with them for October 1 rollout. The coverage from day one will be across Nigeria,”
On sports products, he said the firm has Laliga as well as the FA Cup and Euro Cup 2021 rights.
Why Businesses Should Take a Long-term Approach to People, Product, and Customers
By Andrew Bourne, Region Manager, Africa, Zoho Corporation,
Business success is perceived differently today. Buzzwords like maximization, venture-backed, growth hacking, and well-conceived exit strategies (like IPOs or acquisitions) define entrepreneurial success in the current age. In a mad rush to show high quarter-on-quarter growth rates, corporate leaders have forgotten that the true value of a business is how long it stays relevant in the market and instead focus solely on transient growth spurts even if they cost profits.
Any business, no matter how big its initial success, needs to take a long-term approach if it’s to avoid being one of history’s almost-rans. This applies to every aspect of the business, including, people, products, and customers.
Invest in People
When you are a new company working on developing deep tech, discovering talent and retaining them is a challenge. Try to create and slowly nurture a pool of capable workers who will gain domain expertise over time. At Zoho, in order to sustain our long-term R&D efforts, we initially kept the teams small and worked with people who were committed to learn and understand the domain.
Patience is the key when you cultivate talent in-house. As people refine their skills and gain deeper domain knowledge, they gradually bring their learning to the business and build a solid offering that will stand the test of time. Ultimately, it’s the culture of experimental learning that you build which keeps you going and also motivates people to stick around for the long haul.
Build a product that can pivot and adapt
Equally important is to take a long-term approach to your product. You might be selling something simple today, but you need to be able to build on that. Take Amazon, for example. It started out selling books and gradually built out to become a trillion-dollar company. It hasn’t just focused on e-commerce either. Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud-computing division, keeps more than 40% of the internet up and running.
The lesson here is that long-term thinking isn’t just about having a product plan and sticking to it. It’s also about adapting to any future opportunities that present themselves. Whatever sector you operate in today, it will see disruptions sooner or later. If you can adapt to those changes, or find new opportunities in other sectors, you will be better placed for continued success than your competitors.
Keep up with customer expectations
Finally, you need to take a long-term approach to your customers. If you are constantly gaining new customers but not retaining them, you’re unlikely to see real success. Returning customers routinely spend more money on brands they’re loyal to. People are also more likely to recommend others to businesses they have had a good experience with. Simply put, it just makes business sense.
But taking a long-term focus with your customers isn’t just about the direct touch-points you have with them. Everything, including the software solutions you use, should have the customer at heart. For example, a unified tool which allows you to instantly see every interaction a customer’s had with your business (be it via voice, email, or chat), will put you in a much better position to serve them than trying to work with several different products.
Taking this long-term approach might feel overwhelming initially, but it’s much more likely to pay off than simply trying to survive from quarter to quarter. After all true success is built over time.
CBN Pulls Rate Cut Trigger, King Dollar Returns
By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,
In a move that caught investors off-guard this week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) slashed interest rates by 100 basis points bringing the MPR to 11.5%. Given how inflation has been above target since 2015, rates were expected to remain unchanged for the rest of 2020 and possibly early 2021.
The question on the mind of many is whether the rate cut will achieve the desired effect by stimulating consumption and economic growth? Ongoing border closures and disruptions created by COVID-19 have pushed inflation to levels not seen since March 2018 above 13.20% while a drop in the production and price of Oil continues to rub salt into the wound. While looser monetary policy could support growth, it may come at the cost of rising inflation and weaker Naira.
Over the past few months, central banks across the globe have deployed unprecedented measures to defend their respective economies against the coronavirus menace. However, fiscal policy has been identified as the sharper tool with governments across the world providing a critical lifeline to keep the wheels of their respective economies rolling.
Outside of Nigeria, King Dollar made a return by appreciating against every single G10 currency. In times of uncertainty, everyone wants a juicy piece of the world’s most liquid currency. As coronavirus cases rise in Europe and other parts of the world, the flight to safety is likely to boost appetite for the Dollar. This is bad news for many emerging markets currencies, especially those with high Dollar-denominated debt.
On the commodity side, Oil prices remain heavily influenced by demand-side factors and the state of the global economy. Prices are likely to remain stuck around the $40 regions in the near term, especially If another round of possible lockdowns hit Oil demand. Looking at the technicals, WTI Crude is under pressure on the daily charts. If prices are unable to break away from the sticky $40 regions, the next key point of interest remains around $38. A weekly close above $41.50 could pave a path towards $43.
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