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Interview with Kay Akinwunmi, Founder of Fintech start-up Zazuu

Interview with Kay Akinwunmi, Founder of Fintech start-up Zazuu

Kay Akinwunmi is the founder of the fintech start-up #Zazuu which enables people to send money to, and within #Africa. Zazuu is based in London and #Nigeria. Prior to Zazuu, Kay worked as a consultant for tech start-ups and global brands such as #Sky, #Patch & the #Labour Party, helping build modern software applications and serve millions of customers.

Tell us about why you started Zazuu and what is your background?

I grew up in Agege, in Lagos. My mother in the UK would send money back to Nigeria to support the family. She would send money using a local agent or high street supplier. This could be expensive and inconvenient, and I realised there must be a way to send money back home at the best rate. Zazuu was created to make the experience cheaper and easier. 

I studied software development in England. Before a trip to Nigeria in 2016 I built a chatbot to show the parallel market rate to help negotiate better deals with foreign exchange agents. That’s when the idea for Zazuu became a reality. I built the bot and showed it to a few of my friends who are now co-founders. They liked it because it solved the problem of finding the best market rate for their money transfer. Then we started thinking about how we can make the solution available to a wider audience. We registered as Zazuu in 2018. 

What is your USP?

Zazuu is a money transfer comparison engine for accessing the best rate and fees on remittances to Africa.

How has Covid-19 affected this market specifically?

The pandemic has had a massive impact on all of us, which isn’t different for our team at Zazuu. The Remittance industry went through the sharpest decline in recent history due to a fall in the wages and employment of migrant workers globally. However, the pandemic also brought about an accelerated change; many online money transfer providers reported a surge in online transactions due to lockdowns.

What have you leant about your business during this period?

Zazuu has always been a remote operation but we have learnt the value of transparent working processes and a positive culture to keep the team as upbeat as possible during what’s been a tough time for many all over the world.  

What is the value of the Fintech market in Africa what do you see as a game changer in the next couple of years?

Fintech has major role to play in Africa in enabling a young, growing, and entrepreneurial population access to money. Tellingly, Africa was an early leader in mobile payments, and was among the first continents to enable payments via text messages which is vital when people may not have access to a bank account. There are exciting times ahead, not least in Kenya, sometimes known as the Silicon Savannah where there is a growth of fintechs. In terms of a gamechanger, it’s early to tell but bitcoin and other crypto currencies are becoming more mainstream, and they may change what people can do with their payments and investments. Despite digitisation, cash will still be with us for sometime.   

What is it like working across two different business markets, what are some of the challenges perhaps when it comes to marketing?

Our marketing challenge is being responsive to the array of cultures on the African continent and being able to communicate effectively to them, that’s both in the language we use and the platforms we use to communicate. This is mostly via social media, but we are acutely aware of the value of word of mouth, and we are very aware of the need for Zazuu to be a simple platform that users everywhere can trust. 

What are your products range?

Zazuu is a money transfer marketplace enabling people to compare and see the best rate and fees on their transfer. We are focused on that as Zazuu’s primary offer.

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Who are your customers?

Anyone in the African diaspora or Africans on the continent who need to send money to friends and family. Most recently we are seeing a growing interest among the 25-45-year-old age group. 

What advice would you give to start ups in the Fintech industry from what you have learnt?

Identify a need, do your market research, and understand your business’ regulatory requirement. Prioritise functionality over appearance and work with the best partners you can to make your platform work and deliver a great user experience.  Never lose sight of what your end-users need, and keep in mind that launching businesses is tough and requires ongoing effort.     

Where do you see the business five years from now?

Zazuu will evolve with the needs of our customers. As money changes so will we. We’ve only just started on our mission to make remittances easier and cheaper for Africans. Exciting developments are in the pipeline, so watch this space.  

More about Zazuu click here

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