Uzoma Dozie’s Sparkle raises $3.1M for private, enterprise neobank play in Nigeria – •

The neobank wave is starting to take form in Africa, significantly in Nigeria, the place new fintechs are attempting to tackle legacy banks by offering cheaper and extra personalised banking providers.

Sparkle, based by an ex-CEO of a former Nigerian incumbent financial institution, is one such fintech, and it has closed a seed spherical of $3.1 million to scale operations.

Nigerians have a love-hate relationship with conventional banks. Though the variety of lively financial institution accounts within the nation is above 100 million (from a inhabitants of about 200 million), issues round inefficient service supply, serial downtimes, and unhealthy loans and experiences have made many individuals mistrust banking providers.

Neobanks sensed a chance and are vying for the eye of those banked however unhappy clients. Sparkle, like several neobank available in the market, is relying on customary options such financial savings, invoice funds, top-ups, requesting or sending funds, in addition to much less frequent options — like invoice splitting and reviewing spending breakdowns — to draw clients in a crowded market.

“We’re fairly totally different in a means as a result of as a substitute of separating monetary providers from way of life, we’ve tried to deliver them collectively, particularly as we’ve seen that extra persons are starting to guide extra digitally-led lives,” CEO Uzoma Dozie stated to • in an interview.

“It signifies that we don’t see our clients from accounts, funds, deposits or credit score views, however from how can we assist them do what they wish to do at any explicit time.” In order that’s Sparkle’s pitch — to supply monetary, way of life and enterprise help providers to Nigerians.

In April, the corporate launched Sparkle Enterprise to accumulate a distinct set of underserved customers: small and medium companies. Sparkle claims the brand new enterprise arm has caught on nicely with this class, which now has entry to stock and bill administration, tax recommendation, and payroll and worker administration providers.

These companies can entry these options with a tax identification quantity (TIN) and an e mail handle — the bottom type of documentation available in the market for companies.

Sparkle

Picture Credit: Sparkle

Sparkle’s mixture of offering banking providers to people and companies on a single platform is exclusive. Different neobanks within the nation — similar to Kuda, VBank, FairMoney and Carbon — are recognized to supply tailor-made providers to people. On the identical time, platforms together with Brass and Prospa cater to various sizes of companies

“As a small enterprise, I’m not carrying my checking account on my cell. I’m carrying my enterprise. So we’re bringing every part about your online business into one place so as to do enterprise wherever you’re,” Dozie stated. “For people, we’re bringing every part into one place so as to do what you wish to do fairly simply wherever you’re. However the backside line is that we’re offering you with the data that it’s good to take spontaneous selections.”

Dozie highlights some options of Sparkle that clients would possibly hardly get with different platforms. For example, clients can verify the transaction historical past with a selected beneficiary with out looking by a monetary assertion, affirm the situation the place they made every transaction, and schedule funds.

Sparkle’s design can be tailor-made to how most Nigerians function their lives offline. Clients can have a number of accounts (private and enterprise) and change every time they wish to on Sparkle. They will use the platform on numerous telephones with the identical enhanced safety as different platforms that permit login on a single cellphone, Dozie stated.

Since launching final yr, the neobank has acquired over 40,000 clients on the person banking aspect and a pair of,000 companies. The corporate started charging particular person clients small charges to maintain their accounts working and plans to cost companies for many options besides taxation providers, stated Dozie.

Just like most digital banks within the nation, Sparkle has a microfinance financial institution license. It has additionally secured a partnership with Visa to permit customers to make in-person or digital funds with a Visa card. Different partnerships are with firms like Community Worldwide and PwC Nigeria.

Anybody educated on how the Nigerian fintech house works is aware of it may take a while to safe licenses and partnerships. Sparkle has been ready to take action in below a yr because of its CEO’s huge expertise and connections.

Earlier than Sparkle, Dozie was the CEO and final group managing director of Diamond Financial institution. He oversaw the financial institution’s company, business and retail arms earlier than its merger with Entry Financial institution; the enterprise is now 29 million clients robust.

With Sparkle, Dozie is eager on increasing the capabilities of Nigeria’s banking and retail sectors, persevering with from the place he left off at Diamond Financial institution. As an investor himself, he enlisted an all-Nigerian forged for his seed spherical — lead investor Leadway Assurance, participant Trium Community and some unnamed high-net-worth people. The funding comes after Sparkle closed a family and friends pre-seed spherical of $2 million inside the previous yr.

He opined that whereas he may have raised cash from international buyers, he selected to go together with this group of buyers as a result of they supply the expertise and market that Sparkle must scale in Nigeria. He was additionally eager on getting high-net-worth people to spend money on a tech firm.

Collectively, as a gaggle of buyers and enterprise builders, we’re Nigerians who’re bullish about Nigeria and the chance the nation presents by way of constructing world networks and communities, all by way of one app,” the CEO stated in a press release.  

The CEO advised • that Sparkle will use the funding for 2 functions: constructing robotic course of automation to assist with mundane and repetitive processes, then hiring expertise throughout engineering, finance danger and advertising.

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