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  • Business - Companies
  • Updated: Oct 17, 2020

INTERVIEW: OPay Director, Seun Runsewe, Speaks On Challenges Operating In Nigeria, Others

INTERVIEW: OPay Director, Seun Runsewe, Speaks On Challenges

In this interview, OPay Director of Products, Seun Runsewe, spoke to AllNews about Nigeria's business environment and the challenges of operating a payment company in Nigeria. She also addressed OPay's next plan.

2020 has been a trying period for many businesses, while it is believed that payment platforms have benefited from the pandemic. How true is this?

2020 has been quite a challenging year for many businesses, largely due to the unforeseen spread of COVID-19. Our goal, during this time, was to make sure we provided Nigerians with the platform for seamless, secure, and convenient transactions.

During this period, our mobile money agents were readily accessible by customers to carry out their transactions. Our “Nearby Agents” feature in the OPay app facilitated this.

One thing many people realized during this period is that they do not need to queue up at banking halls to send, receive, or save their money.

Considering your experience and knowledge of OPay's operation in Nigeria, is the payment market profitable?

Yes. Of course, it can be profitable. However, like many other industries, it is capital intensive and requires a huge amount of investments. This is why many startups have multiple rounds of funding to get off the ground and put the required infrastructure in place.

The payments market has become oversaturated in Nigeria. How has this affected the operation of Opay?

We should not consider the payments industry to be oversaturated because there are still several untapped opportunities. Over 50% of the Nigerian population remains unbanked and we will need the competition to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria. Our goal is to provide all Nigerians with the opportunity to conveniently carry out financial transactions.

What have been the challenges of being a payment company in Nigeria?

We operate in a low-trust society; despite innovative products offered by FinTech companies, many customers are still a bit sceptical of using these products even when they offer better rates and convenience.

How would you describe and rate Nigeria's business environment?

It’s a mixture of interesting and tough. Interesting because it’s an emerging market and there is a lot of room for innovation. Tough because of the high cost of credit amidst low access.

As the head of a payment platform in Nigeria, what lessons have you drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic?

One thing to learn is having a customer-first approach during unprecedented times. Treat your customers with empathy and integrity in these uncertain times. Crisis amplifies flaws. The pace at which the coronavirus has not only magnified but also accelerated the damage these flaws create has been eye-opening.

Furthermore, data analysed across several threat intelligence platforms show that there has been an upward trend in attempted COVID-19 themed malware and spam campaigns. So we all need to be aware and educate our users on how to spot fraudulent activities and why they should report such criminal cases.

During the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government compiled a list of Fintech companies for COVID-19 relief. Are you aware of this? If yes, Have Opay benefited from the relief?

OPay raised N50 million to provide healthcare materials and palliatives for several medical institutions and the less privileged respectively. We also partnered with several NGOs as well as the Nigerian Stock Exchange to achieve this.

How do you think the government can help payment companies grow in Nigeria?

The government is already helping out. In January 2019, the CBN unveiled the National Financial Inclusion Strategy designed to ensure that 80 percent of Nigerian adults have access to financial services by 2020.

In December 2019, it announced a reduction to the fees payable on mobile and internet payments/transfers. These efforts go a long way in enabling our businesses.

Are there plans to expand OPay's service outside Nigeria? And what are the countries or markets you view as revenue-driven?

The Nigerian market is where we are completely focused. In due time, we can start to look at other African countries.

What's next for OPay?

We will continue to focus our efforts on further scaling our businesses including our agent banking business operations where we have about 300,000 agents across the country. We are also excited about our newly launched international remittance service, where customers can receive money from anywhere in the world directly into their OPay wallets.

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