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Visionaries - May 27, 2022

How Kofo Akinkugbe Created the First Smart Card Company in Nigeria

Kofo Akinkugbe is well-known around the world for her entrepreneurial vision and success. However, she did not become an entrepreneur overnight. 

After completing her compulsory National Youth Service, she began her career with International Merchant Bank Plc, and afterwards with Chartered Bank Limited.

She worked in the banking industry for 12 years until 1997. When she quit, she launch Interface Technologies, a security management and biometrics technology company.

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How Kofo Akinkugbe started 

 She successfully ran Interface Technologies for nine years, before forming SecureID Nigeria Ltd in 2005. SecureID is a privately owned and independent company situated in Lagos that specialises in providing innovative and smart solutions to banking, telecoms, and other sectors and organisations.

Akinkugbe initiated a sister company, SecureCard Manufacturing, which specialises in the manufacture of plastic cards with magnetic stripe and chip encoding.

When Kofo opened its SecureCard Manufacturing plant in 2012, it was the first of its kind in Africa, producing high-security identification cards and documentation for banks, telecommunications, and government agencies. SecureID has received certification from Mastercard, VISA, and Verve.

This foresightful startup arrived just in time for the Nigerian government’s efforts to shift the country’s cash-based economy to non-cash payments.

With this context in place, SecureID provided a technology that made it simple for the government to accomplish this. 

The company not only provides an alternative modern technical payment system and communication service to Nigeria’s massive population, but its manufacturing plant also saves Nigeria billions of naira in smart card importation costs from China and other nations.

The SecureCard Manufacturing Plant is West Africa’s first smart card manufacturing facility, and also one of only six on the continent. 

Currently, the company serves 21 more African countries, making it the obvious market leader in this industry. 

Mrs. Kofo claims that the SecureCard manufacturing plant has the potential to produce 200 million smart cards every year.

SecureID serving organisations

SecureID also provides tailored solutions for businesses and organisations for a variety of purposes. 

Following the launch of the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) Access Bank prepaid card in 2015, SecureID’s SIDios was deployed as a proprietary solution for online data gathering to enable the seamless enrolling of NBA members using the Access Bank prepaid card.

The Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja has issued a “Stamp of Lawyer.” The system was created and deployed with the goal of obtaining members’ biometric data quickly and easily. 

Members of the bar association can easily complete registration forms and pay membership fees via their computers using such a system. 

Such cutting-edge technology was not widespread in the country at the time. In 2008, SecureID was also the first to backward integrate milling and embedding, which is an important part of personalisation.

SecureID’s vision, according to Kofo Akinkugbe, has been the same from its inception. “to set up a full-scale local content, end-to-end high security smartcard manufacturing plant, from raw materials stage to finished personalized smartcards…”

The company’s service offerings include the manufacturing of EMV, smartcards, GSM SIM Cards, magnetic-stripe debit cards, loyalty cards, contactless dual interface chip cards, multifunctional secure identity cards, and Mifare cards.

Kofo Akinkugbe’s personal achievements

This remarkable Nigerian lady entrepreneur is a prize-winning mathematics graduate from the University of Lagos. She was awarded a Chevening Scholarship by the British government to pursue an MBA at the Strathclyde Graduate Business School in Scotland. 

Kofo has also completed executive programmes at the Lagos Business School, INSEAD, London Business School, and Harvard Business School’s Owner and President Management programme in Boston, USA.

Kofo Akinkugbe was admitted into the ‘Under 40 CEOs Hall of Fame’ on January 8, 2020. 

Akinkugbe is a role model for young African entrepreneurs who’s committed to inspiring a new generation of business leaders. 

Kofo has also garnered numerous awards and medals for her technological inventiveness and ingenuity.

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