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OPay Plans to Expand to North Africa After Massive Success in Nigeria

OPay, a Nigerian fintech startup founded by Opera, has announced plans to expand its payments service operations to North Africa early next year after its success in Nigeria.

The Managing Director of the startup, Iniabasi Akpan, told Bloomberg in an interview.

Akpan said: “The process has begun and we will see how the first quarter turns out. We have enough cash in the bank to fund the expansion plans because we attained financial self-sufficiency in June.”

Akpan adds that OPay’s previous plans to expand to South Africa and Kenya, after raising $190 million in funding last year, have been put on hold due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The numbers of OPay are quite staggering. This is the case despite the startup suspending part of its operations including the ride-hailing and the logistics businesses to focus on the payments business.

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Thanks to coronavirus lockdowns, the volume of monthly settlements on the OPay platform grew almost fourfold to $1.4 billion in November from $363 million in January.

“We plan to reach transactions value of about $2 billion by the end of this year,” Akpan, who is also the country head, said. The company will leverage its network of 300,000 offline agents to deepen the adoption of its payments service, he said.

In the Bloomberg interview, Akpan further disclosed that OPay is piloting a digital overdraft whereby users will be able to borrow from 5,000 to 100,000 naira and have a window of 30 days to repay. The overdraft attracts 3% interest for the first seven days and 1% every day after that.

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Through the product, which is called CreditMe, “we will be lending to working-class people in their mid-20s and 30s, like students and small business owners, who have a source of income,” Akpan said. He expects to launch the credit platform in the first quarter subject to approval from the central bank.

The mobile-payments company also acquired an international money transfer license last year and plans to partner with WorldRemit to process remittances into Nigeria.

New regulations from the central bank are delaying the launch, Akpan said. The service will take off as soon as there is clarity on what operators are allowed to do, he said.

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OPay currently processes about 80% of bank transfers among mobile money operators in Nigeria and 20% of non-merchant point of sales transactions, Akpan said.

Musa Suleiman
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