Olamide Afolabi, the co-founder and CEO of Touch n Pay (TAP), stands as a pioneering force driving transformative change in Africa’s fintech landscape. Under his strategic guidance, TAP has harnessed Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to redefine micro-transactions, impacting sectors and lives across the continent.
In an exclusive interview with Business Elites Africa, Olamide unveils his unique perspective and insights. With a background in Engineering and proficiency in programming languages like C# and Python, he shares his minimalist approach to solving complex problems. From his passion for IoT, AI, and robotics to his fascination with human psychology, Olamide’s multifaceted approach to innovation is the driving force behind TAP’s success. Through his leadership, TAP’s transformative Cowry Card has revolutionized payments, leaving an indelible mark on the fintech sector in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
BEA: What inspired you to co-found Touch and Pay Technologies, and how did you get started in the fintech industry?
Olamide Afolabi: Touch and Pay Technologies was born out of a shared vision to revolutionise payment systems and enhance financial inclusiveness. The inspiration came from observing the challenges faced by people in accessing convenient and secure payment solutions. My journey in the fintech industry began with a deep fascination for the potential of technology to reshape financial services. I recognised that technology could bridge gaps and provide access to financial services for the unbanked and underbanked. This led me to co-found Touch and Pay Technologies, where we have been dedicated to creating innovative solutions that empower individuals and businesses with seamless payment experiences.
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BEA: Can you tell us more about the Cowry Card and how it has transformed transportation in Nigeria?
Olamide Afolabi: The Cowry Card is a groundbreaking offline payment service that has brought a remarkable transformation to transportation in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos. In a city of over 21 million people, where daily commutes were often plagued by friction and inefficiency, the Cowry Card emerged as a game-changer. It offers commuters a convenient and cashless way to pay for their rides on public transportation systems like BRT buses, trains, and ferries. This has not only eliminated the hassles of carrying cash but has also significantly reduced transaction times and enhanced the overall commuting experience. The adoption of the Cowry Card has been swift, with about 3 million users in 3 years, making it a true success story.
BEA: You have a background in engineering, but you are also interested in IoT, artificial intelligence, and robotics. How do you see these technologies shaping the future of the fintech industry?
Olamide Afolabi: Indeed, the convergence of engineering, IoT, artificial intelligence, and robotics presents a powerful synergy that is reshaping the fintech landscape. These technologies enable us to create smarter, more secure, and more efficient financial solutions. IoT devices provide real-time data insights, enhancing risk assessment and fraud prevention. Artificial intelligence drives personalised customer experiences, automates processes, and detects anomalies. Robotics can streamline backend operations and enhance customer service. As these technologies evolve, we’ll witness the emergence of innovative payment methods, data-driven decision-making, and heightened security measures, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and digitally connected financial ecosystem.
Understanding human psychology is essential in creating user-centred fintech solutions. By empathising with users’ needs, we design intuitive interfaces that simplify complex financial processes.
BEA: Touch and Pay Technologies have processed over 3 million microtransactions to date. What challenges have you faced in scaling the company, and how have you overcome them?
Olamide Afolabi: Scaling a fintech company in a dynamic market like Nigeria has indeed presented its share of challenges. Rapid growth brought operational complexities, ensuring the technology remained robust and secure while scaling, and navigating the regulatory landscape required meticulous planning and adaptability. We addressed these challenges through a combination of continuous investment in technology infrastructure, collaboration with regulatory bodies, and a customer-centric approach. We prioritise agility, staying ahead of evolving market trends, and fostering partnerships with stakeholders from various industries. Our commitment to innovation, coupled with a resilient team, has been instrumental in overcoming these challenges and achieving our milestones.
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BEA: You have a passion for understanding human psychology and using a minimalist approach to solve complex problems. How do you apply these principles to your work at Touch and Pay Technologies, and what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to innovate in the fintech space?
Olamide Afolabi: Understanding human psychology is essential in creating user-centred fintech solutions. By empathising with users’ needs, we design intuitive interfaces that simplify complex financial processes. A minimalist approach ensures that every feature serves a purpose and adds value to the user experience. At Touch and Pay Technologies, we prioritise functionality over clutter and transparency over complexity. My advice to fellow entrepreneurs in the fintech space is to listen attentively to your customers, embrace innovation, and focus on solving real pain points. Keep refining your offerings based on user feedback and never underestimate the power of simplicity in delivering meaningful and impactful solutions that resonate with your audience.
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