Okra, fintech in Africa, and open banking going global
Okra is a Nigerian open banking platform. Founded in 2019, Okra was one of the first of its kind in the African open banking space. The company aims to be a portal between financial service providers and consumers’ financial data.
“People like you and me want to use financial services on our phones. We don’t want to go to a bank branch. And Okra is essentially the operating system for all the banks and fintechs that are looking to serve consumers [this way],” said David Peterside, co-founder and COO of Okra. “(…) So whether you call yourself a bank or a fintech, depending on the license you have, if you want to build any fintech feature or platform, you can essentially use Okra as a full stack solution.”
Okra’s services include fintech capabilities within payments, banking, lending, personal finance, and business finance.
For now, Okra’s focus is to serve companies in Nigeria. That may be a pretty natural starting point – according to Peterside, not only is Nigeria the largest market on the continent but it’s also predicted to be the third largest country in the world by 2050. Still, Okra’s goal is to eventually spread across Africa.
“Africa is the youngest and fastest growing market globally in terms of population. What’s super interesting is that these people are mostly digital natives and they all are demanding more convenient ways to live their lives,” said Peterside.
In terms of product expansion, Peterside said the fintech is looking more seriously at money movement:
“We’ve seen huge growth on the data side of the business used to power fintech platforms but we’re constantly seeing demand from customers for better ways to move money. We’re in a private beta with several partners on a product that fills this need and we’re super excited about it.”
In the last couple of years, Africa has seen a major boom in fintech.
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