The Neobank wave is beginning to take shape in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, where new fintechs are trying to take on older banks by providing cheaper and more personalized banking services..
Sparkle, founded by the former CEO of a former Nigerian bank, is one such fintech, and has closed a $3.1 million seed round for large-scale operations.
Nigerians have a love-hate relationship with traditional banks. even though The number of bank accounts active in the country is above 100 million (from a population of about 200 million), inefficient service delivery, serial downtime, and problems surrounding bad loans and experiences have made many people distrust banking services.
Neobanks sensed an opportunity and is vying to attract the attention of these banking but disgruntled customers. Sparkle, like any Neobank in the market, offers savings, bill pay, top-up, request or send money, as well as less common features – such as bill splitting and expense breakdown review – to attract crowd customers. Relying on standard features. Market.
The CEO said, “We are quite different in a way because instead of separating financial services from lifestyles, we have tried to bring them together, especially as we have seen more people live more digitally. ” uzoma doozy said in an interview with Nerdshala.
“It means we don’t look at our customers from an accounts, payments, deposits or credits perspective, but how we can help them do what they want to do at a particular time.So this is Sparkle’s pitch – to provide financial, lifestyle and business support services to Nigerians.
In April, the company launched Sparkle Business to acquire a different group of underserved users: small and medium businesses.. Sparkle claims the new business arm has caught up well with this category, which now has access to inventory and invoice management, tax advice and payroll and employee management services..
These businesses can access these features with a tax identification number (TIN) and an email address – the lowest form of documentation on the market for businesses.
Sparkle’s blend of providing banking services to individuals and businesses on a single platform is unparalleled. Other Neobanks in the country – like Cuda, WeBank, Fairmoney and Karbonn – are known To provide tailored services to individuals. Plus, platforms including Brass and ProSpa cater to businesses of different sizes..
“As a small business, I am not keeping my bank account on my mobile. I am running my business. That’s why we’re bringing everything about your business in one place so you can do business wherever you are,” Doji said. “For individuals, we’re bringing everything in one place so you can do that. be able to do what you want Simplicity Where are you. But the bottom line is that we’re providing you with the information you need to make spontaneous decisions.”
Doozy highlights some of the features of Sparkle that customers hardly get with other platforms. For example, customers can check transaction history with a particular beneficiary without having to browse through financial statements, verify the location where they made each transaction, and schedule payment.
Sparkle’s design is also in line with how most Nigerians conduct their lives offline. customers can passed Diverse Accounts (personal and business) and switch to Sparkle whenever you want. They can use the platform on various Dozie said phones with enhanced security like other platforms that allow logins on the same phone.
Since its launch last year, Neobank has acquired over 40,000 customers on the personal banking side and 2,000 businesses. Dozzi said the company began charging individual customers small fees to keep their accounts running and plans to charge businesses for most features except taxation services..
Like most digital banks in the country, Sparkle holds a microfinance bank licence. It has also secured a partnership with Visa to allow users to make personal or digital payments with Visa cards. Other partnerships are with companies such as Network International and PwC Nigeria.
Anyone knowledgeable about how the Nigerian fintech space works knows that it can take some time to secure licenses and partnerships. Sparkle has been able to do this in less than a year due to the vast experience and connections of its CEO.
Prior to Sparkle, Doozy was the CEO and eventual Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank. He Oversaw the Bank’s corporate, commercial and retail arms prior to its merger with Access Bank; Business now 29 million customers strong.
With Sparkle, Dozzi is looking forward to expanding the capabilities of Nigeria’s banking and retail sectors from where it left Diamond Bank. As an investor, he enlisted an all-Nigerian cast for his seed round – Major Investor. Leadway Assurance, participant Triumph Network and some unnamed high-net-worth individuals. Investment comes after the sparkle closes a Friends and family did a pre-seed round of $2 million within the past year.
He said that while he could raise money from foreign investors, he chose to go with this group of investors because they provide the experience and markets that Sparkle needs to scale in Nigeria. He was also keen on acquiring high-net-worth individuals to invest in a technology company.
“as a whole, As a group of investors and business makers, we are Nigerians who are optimistic about the opportunity presented by Nigeria and the country According to Building global networks and communities, all through one app,” the CEO said in a statement.
The CEO told Nerdshala that Sparkle will use the investment for two purposes: building robotic process automation to help with mundane and repetitive processes, then recruiting talent in engineering, finance risk and marketing.