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AKWA IBOM: HOW ENTREPRENEURS ARE DRIVING ECONOMIC DISRUPTION VIA FINTECH

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MefLyN AnwanA

A large number of people use fintech solutions. If we check our phones and mobile gadgets for example, we will find one or two apps that we use regularly for finance-related transactions and activities.

According to Wikipedia, Financial technology (FinTech) is the technological innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. It is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance. The use of smartphones for mobile banking, investing, credit service and cryptocurrency are examples of technologies aiming to make financial services more accessible to the general public. Financial technology companies comprise startups, established financial institutions and technology companies trying to replace or enhance the usage of financial services provided by existing players.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed great challenges to economic activities and will have far-reaching consequences. On the other hand, crisis is also a strong driver of creativity and innovation. Indeed, if examined closely, one can already observe the results of creativity and innovation emerging at individual levels across the globe.

Public Transportation brings people into close contact in a confined space, increasing their risk of exposure to the virus. Interestingly, the Akwa Ibom State Government has issued public transport guidelines to operators and passengers to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. However, while the directives expect passenger spacing to be fully observed, passengers tend to have an increased risk of acquiring the virus, given their close contact with others. Moreover, cash payment, which is predominant amongst public transport users, tends to place passengers and drivers at high risk of contracting the virus easily – and further spreading it. Sincerely, it is tasking to practice social distancing amongst many transport users.

Framed against this backdrop, it is noteworthy to witness the emergence of companies proffering dynamic solutions via Fintech in the transport sector. One such startup is DRYVA, which is introducing an interesting Fintech model of combating the spread of covid-19 while enabling cheaper, faster and more convenient transportation. The company aims to bridge the urban needs of the transportation sector using smart technology that suits the Retailers market, and also provide cashless and very affordable fares, as well as effective security for customers to curtail social vices which are common in the urban mass transit transportation system. This system is bound to add immensely to the growth in the transportation sector.

Increasingly, entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom state are deploying fintech solutions as strategies for scaling their businesses, delivering goods and services, and meeting the needs of clients. Some of them have integrated payment gateways and processors on their e-commerce websites and apps. A customer can shop for an item on a vendor’s site, make payment via Paystack or a flutter-wave gateway embedded on the platform, and receive the product via dispatch services. This synergy contributes to efficiency and reduces the hassles associated with handling cash.

Fintech solutions are indeed disrupting the way we do business.

Five months ago, as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, Facebook launched Facebook Shops, a platform on Facebook and Instagram for small business owners, big brands, and customers to make buying and selling easier with payments made using credit cards. Today, with shops currently locked in some states in the US due to the second wave of the pandemic, fintech solutions like Facebook Shops are helping users run their businesses effectively.

In today’s digital landscape, the adoption of FinTech is inevitable for financial institutions to stay competitive in the financial industry. Since their sudden appearance in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, FinTech startups have been disrupting the financial scene by offering digitized financial services that are much more convenient for customers, compared to traditional banking. As a result, established monetary institutions will need to adapt and rebrand by leveraging the benefits that FinTech has provided.

In the course of the lockdown occasioned by the pandemic, there was an upsurge in the use of home delivery/dispatch riding services by businesses. Payments were made online and products were delivered to clients and customers offline. The new model of transportation of products from suppliers to end-users disrupted the conventional model of product pickups at shops and business premises which kept the economy afloat. With new delivery services companies springing up daily, new jobs are being created and services are being rendered.

Contrary to conservative opinions, the shift towards incorporating FinTech into business structures is anything but bad for the established banks, especially during a financial crisis. With the integration of FinTech, the financial services provided by banking enterprises, such as monetary transactions and insurance investments, will be further enhanced in terms of speed and accessibility to cater to the needs of customers. This in turn will allow enterprises gain customers’ trust and revenue growth, even during the economic crisis. As such, the emerging FinTech market has become more relevant during the post-covid-19 economy for its ability to re-engineer the business structure of financial institutions to remain competitive when crisis strikes.

If we are asked to imagine a world without fintech solutions, certainly we will all agree that it will be a difficult world to live in as fintech apps help us send and receive money, save money, borrow money, lend money, and invest money. The economic system of the world is evolving and the possibilities of Fintech solutions in business are endless.

It is left to us to only explore!

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