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MTN’s Tech Transformation, SystemSpecs Acquisition on the Agenda? 

With a PSB license, acquiring a Payment Solution Service Provider (PSSP) and switching licensee that has huge transaction volume, will accelerate MTN’s fintech growth, writes SOLA FANAWOPO

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MTN SystemSpecs
SystemSpecs | MTN

The African fintech space is rising. It has witnessed a huge surge in recent years. In 2021, $4.7 billion was injected into the African IT industry. About 62% ($2.9 billion) went to fintech. The growth of Nigerian fintech in particular has been phenomenal. 

MTN Nigeria, the country’s leading telco has been itching to get a piece of the action. Reason it secured Super Agency in 2019 and Payment Service Bank (PSB) licenses in 2021.

Afcon qualifiers, MTN Nigeria, Mafab
Karl Toriola, CEO, MTN Nigeria

Hugely successful with its telecom business, recording N1.654trn ($3.93billion) revenue in 2021, its fintech revenue has stuttered.

This may change based on its recent transformation into a technology firm. Acquisitions may be one of the options to achieve this.

MTN and Acquisitions

While MTN lacks a robust profile of inorganic growth, its fintech foray might change the trajectory. If it embraces acquisition, one of the best fintechs MTN may acquire is SystemSpecs.

Why acquire SystemSpecs?

Assumption is the worst kind of knowledge. But it should be noted that by linking the dots one may unearth strategies a big corporate like MTN may be considering. For instance, it rebranded as a technology company.

MTN Group’s chief sustainability officer, Nompilo Morafo, said the rebranding is part of the group’s Ambition 2025 strategy, aimed at creating “leading digital platforms for Africa’s progress”.

Its share offering in Nigeria has helped it to raise about $244 million. This means MTN has a deeper pocket to execute fintech acquisitions to drive growth.

With a PSB license, acquiring a Payment Solution Service Provider (PSSP) and switching licensee that has huge transaction volume, will accelerate MTN’s fintech growth.

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Reasons MTN may acquire SystemSpecs  

MTN has collaborated with SystemSpecs’ Remita via its Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS) for bills payment, money transfers and TSA payments on its agency network.  

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  • MTN Chairman, Ernest Ndukwe is also SystemSpecs Chairman. This is strategic.
  • SystemSpecs has morphed into a holding company with two subsidiaries: Remita Payment Services Limited and SystemSpecs Technologies Limited.
  • MTN will benefit from Remita’s PSSP and switching licenses, and control SystemSpecs tech rack.
  • SystemSpecs owns the most successful Human Resource Management platforms in Africa (HumanManager). It reportedly processed over 10 million payroll records of about N1trn ($ 2 billion) value in 2021.

SystemSpecs and its acquisition value

One of the pioneering tech firms in Nigeria, SystemSpecs was founded in 1992. It birthed Remita, its fintech arm, in 2005.

SystemSpecs
John Obaro, Founder/CEO, SystemSpecs

In 2011, Remita was selected to power the federal government’s TSA policy. The implementation of this policy has reportedly saved Nigeria more than N540 billion ($1.2billion) annually in public funds. Remita has a unique position because of its relationship with the Nigerian banks and a straight-through-processing (STP) infrastructure.

Besides, SystemSpecs is a quiet but active company. Figures released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows that Remita processed N20.9trn ($46billion) in payments volume in 2019. This is almost three times what Flutterwave – valued at $3 billion – has processed since inception.

The success of TSA powered by Remita has been a game-changing initiative. It has bolstered interest in Remita by African nations. Remita can lead implementation of the TSA on the continent. It has a successful data business.

It leverages data generated across its business to create unique use-cases for lenders and other customers. Bootstrapped from inception and a profitable company, SystemSpecs is more than its payment racks. It will be an automatic addition to the bottom line of its acquirer.

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How much is SystemSpecs acquisition? 

I cannot verify how much an acquisition of this scale would cost. But I would not be wrong to assume an acquisition would position SystemSpecs as a matured unicorn.

Can MTN be checked? 

While MTN is a big contender to acquire SystemSpecs, glance at a few Nigerian banks that have transformed into holding entities. They may be considering the acquisition of a solid business to bolster their fintech play. The fintech ecosystem is about to enter a consolidation phase. The telcos and banks may lead the game.

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@TechEconomyNG connects past-present-emerging technological impacts on Businesses, People and Cities. All Correspondence to: [email protected]

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