Microvest has a goal to be on the lips of everyone. “When you think credibility, savings, investment, and growth, we want you to think Microvest”. Rob Okiyi, chief operating officer, Microvest explained in an interview with Techeconomy.ng.
It’s no longer news that the fintech sector, within and outside the African continent, is accelerating at a commendable rate. Okiyi and his team members at Microvest are definitely leveraging this opportunity to partake in building a better and competitive ecosystem on the continent.
“We have the intention of growing a community of people with like-minds to save, invest and then we grow together. Our vision highlights that we want a community that we’d be able to build and grow together,” he said.
With several years of experience across banking, finance, insurance, consulting, strategy, research, customer service, sales and business development, Rob Okiyi was the Head of Strategy, Research and Planning in Bridge Credit Limited, a consumer finance company.
His leadership/business management skills and operations with companies such as Standard Chartered, Ensure Insurance (currently Allianz), Fortis Microfinance Bank, Seedbuilders Nigeria, Bridge Credit Limited, among others makes him and other team members an excellent fit for Microvest.
With Microvest, everyone can save towards a target or a goal and be rest assured of achieving these. “It is our joy to see them achieve whatever set goal that they have.”
Comparing the company’s counterparts in traditional banking, Microvest encourages clientele to save and earn interest while saving. Group savings with friends and colleagues is one of the unique features the company offers, where you can have a challenge on who would reach a particular amount first; it makes it all creative.
Interestingly, Microvest has been in existence in the mind for over five years but was birthed in May 2021.
What makes Microvest stand out? Is there anything done differently from Piggyvest?
Okiyi’s answer was simple.
“We are doing everything that Piggyvest and the likes are doing and more. We are in our pre- launch stage and as such I’m not disposed to give more information, but I can tell you that we have a unique product. Beyond that, what we’re trying to do is to give people a credible alternative platform where they can save and invest.”
It’s undeniable that the Fintech space has attracted lots of investments in recent times and of course, the competition is getting heavy. Although Microvest is coming in with similar products already in the markets; the company is coming in with unique selling products.
“They are tailor-made products for customers’ needs, we extract their needs and provide solutions via our platform. We’re going to stay competitive. As stiff as the competition would be, as many as the players in the industry would be, I believe that the sky is big enough for every star to shine, it’s left for the star to choose his distinct shine and that is what we want to do in Microvest,” Okiyi clearly noted.
A key factor that can never be overlooked especially in the fintech industry is trust. Should we talk about the rate at which investments have gone down the drain and couldn’t be recovered? No, that’s for another day.
How would Microvest gain the trust of customers?
According to Okiyi, “There’s always this fear that comes to the heart of people who would say, is my money safe? There’s been a lot of investment companies that have depleted the trust that the people have in the industry.” Well said.
“However, we’re not coming out to sell investment products to customers, we’re coming out with that element of our vision of creating a community of people who want to grow together and save together.
It’s a platform where you see your savings, create any plan you want; MiSafe, Mitarget and Milock. You see your money and you watch your money grow. We have a partnership with Paystack and some other credible trustees to ensure trust.”
Another issue especially with the rate of digitisation of course, is Cybersecurity.
“We’re aware that whatever information that is shared with us is only for the purpose it was asked for. One of the co-founders who is the Chief Technology Officer is a professional IT expert who leads a team of tech professionals. They have the right and might to develop the firewalls and systems that would be able to hold the gravity of work that we’re trying to do.”
“Financial inclusion is one of the things that even the regulators are preaching and the CBN and financial institutions are creating various solutions to bank the unbanked. So it will continue to attract the attention of outside investments. All we’re going to do is to keep being creative. Innovation is one of our core values in Microvest, we’re going to continue to live it.
Investments would keep coming in, but they need to see a credible platform. We pride ourselves in having a team of professionals that are very intelligent, versatile and experienced.”
What is your view on the support for indigenous companies?
Okiyi is one of the advocates for internal reliability to ensure Nigeria and Africa at large attains competitiveness globally. According to Okiyi, the major problem Nigeria faces is confidence in our own.
“There’s a campaign for made in Nigeria products. We’ve failed to encourage our own. What we hope to do is to continue to build confidence, so when you put your money here, you can access your money anytime and see what your money is doing for you.”
“We’ve been able to perfect our internal systems such that the credibility we preach would not just be seen but also be felt. I believe that over-time, Microvest would be one of those platforms that would get Nigerians back the confidence that they need.”
What do you think are the challenges Microvest and the entire sector face?
Elaborating on collaboration with regulators, Okiyi says the country needs to be much clearer on certain terms. “Most times our regulators stifle and suffocate startups. I think it’s a two-way thing, a marriage”.
Again, regulations are usually one of the challenges, “we need the government to allow startup companies to grow and not expect us to pay heavy taxes when there isn’t an enabling environment.”
“While the startups stay credible by providing reliable platforms, the governments should also come and see the platforms and build plans on how they can support them. If this happens, there won’t be companies scared to be identified as Fintech startups in the country.”
Of course, such great steps bring their own challenges and Okiyi says funding is one of them at the early stage.
A Lot of people are yet to get exposed to information, and when you’re not informed as a customer and a company, you’d have hiccups here and there.
You attended the just concluded FINTECH WEEK. What’s your view on Fintech companies being quoted in the Stock exchange?
“The instability in the economy is what might not make Fintech companies want to get quoted and investors at large are also not confident yet about the stock market. While it’s good for the Fintech company on one hand because of credibility, it is dicey on the other hand because people buy much known stocks.”
Microvest is launching its savings product which includes three major variants: MiSafe, MiTarget and MiLock.
- MiSafe is a flexible savings where you can fund your wallet and create a plan. It allows withdrawals anytime you want and also avails users the opportunity transfer to any bank account. It would be regulated to encourage savings
- MiTarget is for those who have decided to set a particular goal for themselves. It allows you to create a plan and target amount, choose frequency and save consistently. Users can access the money at the targeted date, withdrawal before the targeted date would come with a fee
- MiLock allows users to lock particular amounts of money for a period of time and avoid the temptation to spend. Access would be given only at maturity only
How does the savings work?
Users can fund their wallets through debit cards or bank transfer. “Customers’ are at liberty to choose how they want to fund their accounts
Microvest has a goal to be on the lips of everyone. “When you think credibility, savings, investment, growth, we want you to think Microvest.”