EXCLUSIVE:  Co-Founder & COO of Nigeria’s Rising Startup Zoto Unveils His Vision for Africa

Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Zoto, Oshone Ikazoboh

Accra, Ghana, June 1, 2018//-Oshone Ikazoboh, the Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Zoto, a product of Hedonmark Management Services Limited and Nigeria’s fastest growing payment solution, has unveiled his vision for the Nigeria market and rest of Africa.

He explained to African Eye Report in an exclusive interview that he wants to become the single largest platform for multiple payments in Nigeria and beyond.

The interview was facilitated by Sundeep Mehta, Global PR & Corporate Communications Manager – Corporate Marketing of Mahindracomviva.

Read the Q and A below

 Why is Zoto different from other payment networks?

 Zoto makes payments easy and hassle-free. It converges the payments space by bringing payments anytime, anywhere to everyone’s hands (Smartphone).

It’s all about experience and habit; everyone working on Zoto has imbibed the values that the brand stands for, be it a tech developer or customer support. These values help us deliver a seamless experience that is unparalleled to any other payments app in the market. Some of the things that we focus on are as follows- Universal design, Intuitive interface, Lower failure rates, wide service coverage, Instant refunds & quickest response time.

Intuitive recommendations powered by ML technologies, instant refunds and 24X7 support helps in empowering the customer financially.We are adding multiple merchants and categories to the application to improve customer experience and coverage. We aim to become a single platform for all kinds of payments such as recharge and top-up, electricity, TV, Toll, Broadband and offline and online merchant payments and many more in future.

Our tie-up with Enterprises allows us to provide more value to our customers. For example, we are able to provide deeper discounts to our recharge customers because of our tie-ups with leading Nigerian Telco’s, similarly; we offer cash-backs to our customers.

How secure is your network?

Our platform is secure because all communications from the application is encrypted. The Zoto pin acts as a second layer of authentication. Only the user knows and can change his Zoto personal identification number (PIN). This ensures that all transactions on the platform are authentic.

Zoto maintains the highest level of security in line with industry standards (mention PCI-DSS). We follow all the industry best practices and have also developed in-house methods to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions on the platform.

Do you have plan to expand the Zoto to other ECOWAS and African countries? If yes, when will that plan materialise? And which countries are you starting with?

Zoto is a Nigerian home grown company built keeping in mind the challenges of Nigeria.  The market is vast and offers a lot of opportunities for us.

Zoto has more than a 1 million users today and is rated 4.6 on the play store which is highest in the shopping category.

Our transacting user base and order volume have grown by 56% and 200% respectively in the last financial year and are set to replicate an even higher growth curve in the financial year 2018 -19.

We processed 5 million orders in the last year which we aim to grow to 15 million orders in the financial year 2018 – 2019.

Lagos and surrounding states with the highest density of mobile internet users has been our key markets till date that is where more than 80% of our users are from, however the learning and product can be easily replicated for West African countries in near future for expansion.

Is Zoto competing with banks and telcos?

Nigeria’s mobile money market is very well regulated which makes it easier for incumbents as well as new participants to coexist. It’s not a Zero-sum game; the market for payment is very large and evolving at a high pace for every innovative player to grow.

If mobile payment solutions increase, the banks will also benefit as “the issuing bank gets a share of the pie from the commissions”. We will continue to collaborate with the banks to create new solutions for digitization of payments and financial inclusion.

How do intend to maintain your position as the market leader in mobile payments in Nigeria?

 Over the last 2 year we have launched services like electricity, TV, Broadband, Betting, movie bookings, mobile data, P2P transfers and bank transfers.

In near future we plan to expand vertically and horizontally by adding more categories and increasing the number of merchants in each category, this will help us provide better payment experience to our users and making Zoto the central platform for all utility and leisure payments.

We have observed that close to 70% of new users come to us because of word of mouth and referrals from friends and family. We have constantly focused on this learning to improve the existing user experience, giving the users more reasons to use us as their primary channel of payments.

This way we have grown at a steady compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% without burning a lot on acquisitions. Forming new partnerships every day and reducing failures has allowed higher retention of service compared to global standards. Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja are some of the key markets for us with highest population density.

We have surely learned a lot/ gained maturity in understanding the power of people in making or breaking a business. As a result, we have worked hard on people, culture, and our purpose.

Deep customer focus has been a core to us from the beginning – be it merchant partners or customers. I think we are 10% there and a long way to go hence. But I am very sure we will set the platinum standard for a phenomenal customer experience in the payment segment. “I personally believe that management is about leveraging the best in people”

Where is Zoto going to be in the next five years?

 Fintech is revolutionizing how Nigerians pay for bills, transfer money or accesses credit and there is one thing common in all these solutions, they are mobile focused and internet driven.

With new advancement in machine learning and artificial intelligence users will experience payments and banking like never before. With internet connectivity in Nigeria improving for mobile internet subscribers, we feel fortunate to be present in the best product market fit situation.

Our efforts are focused towards strengthening our role in digitizing the payment ecosystem of Nigeria, be it peer to peer (P2P) transfers, bank account transfers, online and offline merchant payments all from the convenience of mobile device.

Zoto is authorized for mobile money  services by Central Bank of Nigeria  (CBN) and it is just a matter of time  before the combination of favorable market condition and correct technology will help us to revolutionize the banking and financial inclusion space.

 What regulatory measure do you want to see or implement by the central government to support local startups?

The government should make it easier for startups to open their business in Nigeria. New ideas should be given a chance to take root and flourish through a regulatory sandbox. In this regard I am happy that the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) have initiated a regulatory sandbox which will allow startups to test products and business models in live environment in real markets.

What are your advice to African startups? And what is your advice to young entrepreneurs?

African startups must take cognizance of data protection laws like GDPR which is expected to become the global standard very soon. Non-compliance will affect the ability to operate or scale in a number of countries in which similar laws are expected to come into force very soon.

My advice to young African entrepreneurs is to follow their dreams and work diligently. Mobility has opened doors to new opportunities for budding entrepreneurs allowing them to create new business models to service their customers. With many countries like Nigeria supporting start-ups through regulatory sandboxes, there will never a better time than now to make a mark on the global stage.

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