Ethiopian tech investor and CEO of Arifpay, Bernard Laurendeau, joins us on this fintech-themed #APSVibecheck instalment of the African Pre-seed Podcast. ArifPay is Ethiopias first universal mobile Point of Sales (mPOS), an electronic payment platform designed for use by merchants, banks, and consumers in Ethiopia that any business, merchant, or consumer can use to transfer money, make invoices, or pay taxes.
Arifpay’s story feels familiar because some of the best startups are the result of founders wanting to solve a pain point they experienced. The conversation with Bernard comes at a time when Ethiopia is opening up its economy. The country granted its first private mobile licence in 2021 and one year later, granted a mobile money service licence to M-Pesa.
In Ethiopia, M-Pesa will be looking to replicate the kind of success it has had in Kenya where it has become the runaway market leader. Yet that may not play out the same way because it is in a market where growth is happening in the banking sector and where the competition is aware of the importance of moving quickly. At the 3-minute mark, Bernard talks about the rapid growth in the country’s banking sector and you get the sense that the payments space will see more players. The banks know there’s value in being connectors and startups like Arifpay are already out of the blocks.
Yet the entire industry and end users benefit from having more players in the payments space. Today, Nigeria’s payment space has a lot more players all trying to comprehensively solve the payments problem, even though it wasn’t always this way. It’s a sign of where Ethiopia could be if progress is sustained over the next decade, but it will need significant funding to get there.
In March 2021, ArifPay raised over USD 3 million in March 2021 in its "pre-Series A round", a significant sum for a startup in Ethiopia. As we’ve seen across growing ecosystems, attracting revenue (among other things) is critical for growth; as Bernard shares, revenue and talent are the two missing pieces for Ethiopia’s startup ecosystem to truly take off.
Top 5 insights unpacked in the episode:
1. How Bernard first involved himself with Arifpay and how he later became its CEO [0:17]
2. An exploration of Ethiopia’s macroeconomic picture, and what is happening below the surface that external observers may miss from afar [2:30]
3. How Arifpay envisages itself and its role within the Ethiopian fintech system. [05:35]
4. Bernard's view on Ethiopia’s tech ecosystem, which areas interest him the most, and why [8:00]
5. The difference between bank-led digital payments and mobile money in an Ethiopian context [11:18]
CONNECT VIA SOCIAL MEDIA:
- Connect with Bernard Laurendeau on Linkedin.
Are you a Founder learning the ropes of the fintech industry? Please share what you're learning from some of your successes and setbacks on social via the #APSVibecheck #AfricanPreseedPodcast hashtags, or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
ARTICLE: Ethiopian Fintech Scene Shows Great Promise as Africa’s Next Fintech Hub by Fintechnews Africa.
VIDEO: "What does collaborative banking look like? What is the outlook for Fintech in Ethiopia?" by DigitalEthiopia WebinarSeries.
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What is The African Pre-seed Podcast?
An insight-rich immersion in African tech ecosystem affairs for the discerning Africa-focused founder. Hosted by Hope Ditlhakanyane and Rajiv Daya.