The last year has been a crowning period for fintech in Nigeria. Tech has gone from being a line of work for nerds to being a national prestige. However, fintech dominates Nigeria’s startup space. Not only does it have the most unicorns (companies with up to $1 billion valuations), it has also received the most interest from investors.
In 2020, the country attracted $305 million in startup funding, according to Partech Africa. Fintech deals represented around 44 per cent of startup investment activities. According to a report by Frost and Sullivan, the fintech space is expected to grow by over $543.3 million in 2022. Fintechs also account for 95.95 per cent of this year’s fundraising announcements, with OPay, Flutterwave, and Kuda leading the pack.
Even so, funding announcements don’t necessarily tell the size of a startup. Valuation does not do the job either. Why is that so? Well, the valuation of tech startups is neither as easy nor as direct as traditional companies. Usually, traditional companies are valued based on their financial history. As a result, it is easier to tell how much they are worth and how much they can generate under normal or extreme circumstances (e.g. recession). Tech startups, on the other hand, are not valued in this way. The size of VC fundings and growth prospects are usually the most popular yardsticks for startup valuation.
To know Nigeria’s biggest fintech companies, you need to know what makes a big business. Factors such as sales volumes, annual turnover, and the number of employees are the easiest ways to determine company size. By valuation, MTN’s MoMo is the biggest fintech in Nigeria, as the company is estimated at $6 billion. But going by customer base alone, Paga is the largest mobile payments firm in Nigeria with 17 million users.
In this article, we rank Nigerian fintech companies based on their current valuation and number of users.
OPay is Nigeria’s biggest fintech company, and this is not simply because it is the unicorn with the highest valuation. During the global pandemic lockdown last year, the fintech firm experienced stellar growth as the value of its gross transactions increased by 4.5x to over $2 billion in December 2020. Today, the company claims its monthly transaction volumes exceed $3 billion, driven by its strong network of 300,000 agents and 5 million registered app users across the country.
PiggyVest champions the savings and investment space in Nigerian fintech. Its unique model of digitizing the piggybank saving method has made it the most used savings app in Nigeria.
Last year, PiggyVest paid back N90 Billion to its 3 million users – a figure which the company claims to have surpassed in the first half of 2021. The company has not announced any funding rounds since 2018. This year, the company also acquired Savi.ng, a competitor, from VFD Microfinance.
Kuda bank has become one of the most talked-about startups in Africa, in part because of the pace at which it has grown. After it raised the largest seed round in Africa, it has gone ahead to become Nigeria’s seventh-largest bank, with a valuation of $500m. Kuda has 1.4 million registered users, a 124 per cent growth from 650,000 registered users.
Earlier this year, Flutterwave became Nigeria’s second fintech unicorn after one of the biggest funding rounds. Through its APIs, the company has gained both popularity and investor interest by assisting businesses to develop customizable payment applications. According to Flutterwave, more than 290,000 businesses use its platform to carry out payments. It also has over 500,000 registered Barter users.
Nigeria’s fintech space is promising but still young. According to the Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), 35.9 per cent or 38.1m Nigerians are financially excluded. This means they do not use any financial products and services, formal or informal. That number is the population of Ghana, or Senegal and Zimbabwe combined. The big winners are ultimately the ones that bridge the gap of financial inclusion.
Written by Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe