Globally, the BaaS market is leading a revolution in financial services, enabling businesses to develop new and exciting propositions with relevant financial solutions embedded into the customer experience. Analysts predict that the market in BaaS is expected to reach a value of $7 trillion by 2030.

Mudiaga Umukoro, Co-founder/COO, Qore, speaks on how the Banking as a Service company is shaping Africa’s financial ecosystem, by providing the technology and operating system needed to power fully digital and automated Banks across the continent.

 What is your rationale for floating Qore as a separate business entity?

Appzone has always existed as a venture builder with fingers in a lot of different pies. Right now though, there is a need to focus on certain deep challenges on the continent. A separate business entity with its own Executive management team and resources is the best way to create that focus.

How would you describe the financial services ecosystem in Africa in the last 5 years, especially as digital transformation continues to drive growth for the ecosystem?

Disruptive in one word. We watched the transformation to true Digital Banking. For the first time, we started to see that we did not really need branches to consume banking services. NeoBanks rose up and succeeded which was strange. Then we started to consume banking services from Institutions that were not banks. Suffice it to say that our perception of banking and our perception of banks was (and continues to be) transformed at an alarming rate.

What does the competitive landscape look like for digital finance and how is Qore positioned to lead innovation for significant progress in the industry?

Digital Finance is at a very interesting point in its history. Never has it been surrounded by so much opportunity but also never has it been so challenged in Nigeria and Africa. On one hand, we have the highest number of Financial service providers ever, offering innovative products; we also have financial services stretching its territory into retail commerce (as a result of embedded banking and banking-as-service). On the other hand, we have a high rate of financial exclusion and inefficiencies in operations (especially in lending).

Qore intends to bridge this gap over the next few years by empowering these microfinance institutions with the exact same technology (and better technology) that the biggest and most tech-savvy fintechs and banks have.

What is Qore’s overall objective and how does it advance the goal of a digital banking future for Africa?

Qore’s overall objective is a completely automated and connected financial services ecosystem in Africa. Once every financial transaction on the continent is digital, we would have met our goal.

Mudiaga Umukoro

Looking back since inception, what have been the key growth drivers for the Qore business?

Innovation and a willingness to roll up our sleeves and delve into the depth and intricacies of technology no matter how complicated and complex, have made us unique and driven our growth. We focus on the backend infrastructure and rails that most organizations rather avoid. We built a cloud-native Core Banking Application that no one else on the continent has bothered to. We have built a financial switch that most people instead purchase externally. This unique orientation has created the products that fuel our growth.

Tell us a bit about your company’s culture and how that impacts the value that you provide.

Our core values are technical proficiency, innovation, courage, humility and an entrepreneurial spirit. You can see how these values drive our culture and ultimately our output. Qorents (nickname for Qore’s team) are extremely competent though humble, entrepreneurs, innovative and courageous in the wake of enormous challenges.

How are you leveraging strategic partnerships to advance digitization for financial services in Africa?

Pushing out our products into Africa, we intend to leverage and partner with distribution networks that already exist instead of reinventing the wheel. Many global brands have seen what we have built and are eager to work with us towards proliferating our services across the continent.

Over the last decade, how has Qore impacted the Nigerian and African financial services ecosystem?

Interesting question as we have been at the forefront of digitization of financial services since our inception in more ways than I can outline here. Our Banking-as-a-Platform service, BankOne defined the standard for financial services in the Microfinance sector of Nigeria. Before getting into the market, digital services in microfinance were a myth. Due to what the product has done, it’s now a standard. It’s no wonder most of the industry relies on the platform today. Our product Viacard created the culture of instant card issuance in Nigeria. Before then it was standard to wait a week or two for your debit card. Now it takes 15 minutes. Our Pryme product disrupted Viacard and now Debit Card issuance (aka Card Vending Machine, CVM ) is self-service just like ATM cash withdrawal

BankOne also facilitated the very first electronic transaction from a microfinance institution in the Gambia.

What is your vision for Africa’s evolving financial ecosystem and how are you positioned to bring it to life?

I have said this before, every financial transaction will be digital. Some will occur without our awareness. This will happen pretty soon. The main challenge right now though, is that lots of financial services providers are running in a manual or semi-manual mode. This is due to a lack of affordable and accessible technology. We have started changing that.

Interestingly many neobanks are springing up with microfinance licenses and leveraging our infrastructure to target the same segment. Together, this future will come sooner rather than later.

How does Qore enable significant growth for small and medium-sized businesses in Africa?

It is clear fact that SMEs are better financed by Microfinance banks and now Fintechs and Neobanks. As we empower them with our technology, SMEs have the enablement to do what they do best.

Your company played a significant role in the first digitization phase of Nigeria’s financial sector, how are you sustaining this transition as digital challengers and neo-banks emerge?

It’s simple-we are enabling the NeoBanks and Fintechs. Most of them are operating with Microfinance licenses and building their niche services on top of our rails. From the Core Banking Applications to our API networks and lending automation tools, it’s easier for them to create more impact by leveraging what exists rather than reinventing the wheel. Together we win, always.

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