Last week, Nigerian technology firm, Softcom, announced the launch of its latest innovation, Eyowo. It is a new bank that aims to disrupt the delivery of basic financial services in the country by revolutionizing how people spend, save, send, receive and borrow money.

Eyowo will provide simple, modern and reliable banking services to anyone – consumers, retailers, businesses, and developers – with a phone number, it said in a press release.

“Our target market is everyone who has a payment need and has a phone number,” Eyowo CEO, Tomi Amao says. “This includes people and businesses who want to make or receive payments for goods and services online and offline.”

The new innovation comes with a comprehensive package of product offerings. With Eyowo, people can send and receive money, buy airtime, pay bills, request and accept payment from customers using only their phone numbers.

Individuals can also make cardless ATM withdrawals, save and earn interest, borrow money at zero interest rate and have access to dollar cards to carry out international transactions, the company said.

Eyowo was created in an attempt to solve the financial inclusion problem in Nigeria, Amao said further, describing it as a “bank for all.” The firm has “engineered products that are truly accessible to everyone regardless of the social status they belong to,” according to Ope Adeyemi, the Lead for Eyowo Product and Partnerships.

More than a bank

Over time, several similar financial technology (fintech) firms have sprung up from the burgeoning technology startup space in Nigeria. But Eyowo is different and fundamentally at its core is the “revolutionary peer-peer payment system that underpins everything,” the CEO said in an interview with Ventures Africa.

In addition, the bank comes with value-added services, Eyowo Retail and Eyowo Business, which Amao believes would truly make a difference and add value to the lives of users. “Eyowo is more than a fintech product, it’s a platform that empowers lives,” he added.

With just one tool, the retail platform helps manage orders, payments, inventory, customers, settlements and reports, thus enabling retailers to organize their business more efficiently for optimal growth.

Businesses can also accept more forms of payment – cash, card, bank transfers, through this service. According to Adeyemi, this will “significantly expand the customer base and horizon for internet-enabled businesses who today can only receive payments from bank account holders.”

For Eyowo Retail, the goal is to bring cohesion or integration between various existing “siloed products” that address different aspects of the typical retail business but lack overall effectiveness.

Presently, retailers have to utilize a number of different siloed platforms for issues like simplified payments, reconciliation across various payment channels, customer and product insights, etc. Coupling all of these services under one platform – Eyowo Retail – will be done in a way that brings “meaningful value” to the retail sector, Amao said.

In delivering the retail service, the firm has partnered with leading financial service institutions including Providus Bank, GT Bank, Interswitch, NIBSS, Bank of Industry, Verve, amongst others. The company will continue to join forces with organizations whose ethos is aligned with its vision for financial services in Africa, Amao added.

Then there is the Eyowo Developer API, which allows developers to build payment products, tools, and experiences that people love by exploring Eyowo Developer API documentation, SDKs and other resources.

The API integrations will help platforms in receiving payments and making payments to anyone who has a phone number. The API, according to Amao, exposes the company’s “core infrastructure to third-party systems who can easily integrate and take advantage of the power of Eyowo.”

All of these service offerings come at minimal costs as against some fintech services that are associated with high charges. This is because Eyowo was built on an innovative and breakthrough technology, which ensures that typical operational costs associated with running such a platform are reduced, and in many cases, eliminated.

For example, the bank offers an overdraft facility which is charged at zero percent interest for the first 25 days. This facility is available to customers that use the platform regularly which enables the firm to rate their creditworthiness as well as determine how much overdraft facility it can offer.

“Due to our innovative, simple and seamless approach to banking, our goal is to attract many more users onto our platform. Doing so involves careful consideration of our charges,” Amao explained. “Relying on innovative technology ensures that we can significantly reduce our costs and improve the overall end-user experience.”

In securing consumer data at a time cybercrimes are rife, accounts on Eyowo are set up with passwords, PINs and biometric information. And all the data are transmitted and stored using standard cryptographic techniques such as encryption and hashing at various levels.

“We ensure proper encryption is used for user data in transit or at rest,” the CEO said. “We’ve put in a lot to guarantee the safety of our users and their accounts.”

A Softcom company founded in 2019, Eyowo Integrated Payments Limited is a bank headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. Eyowo has been built to improve lives by giving everyone access to basic financial services with only a mobile phone number in Nigeria.

The service is available on Android, iOS, USSD, Voice, SMS and on the web. Learn more at www.eyowo.com.

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