Fundamo founder joins Nomanini advisory board

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Fundamo founder Hannes Van Rensburg has joined the advisory board of South Africa-based enterprise technology transactions platform provider Nomanini, saying the company is well placed to be a market leader within a niche space.

Nomanini, which has in total raised capital of over US$2.3 million, has developed a platform that facilitates cash transactions in informal markets, allowing enterprises to bolster mobile airtime and electricity distribution channels.

Disrupt Africa reported earlier this year the company was looking for further funding to accelerate its expansion across Africa, while in June it signed an exclusive agreement with Ghanaian company Transactions Solutions (TranSol) to scale the numbers of its cloud-based PoS terminals in the West African country.

At Fundamo, Van Rensburg built one of the world’s most advanced and sophisticated mobile financial service platforms, deployed in more than 34 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He sold the company to Visa for US$110 million in 2011.

He will now be lending his expertise to Nomanini as an advisor to the board of directors, and said the quality of Nomanini’s management team and the company’s execution of its targeted strategy put it in a strong position to be a market leader within the mobile transactions space.

“As online financial transacting is picking up, and more and more people are using mobile to transact, there is a clear niche of participants in this payment ecosystem serving the mid-sized retailer,” he said.

“In emerging markets a big percentage of the economy is going through these shops and to expect them to only use mobile phones to transact is unrealistic. We need a different device or mechanism, one that is affordable, reliable, easy to use and efficient. In that space, I have not seen anyone design and deliver it better than Nomanini.”

Van Rensburg said his involvement would be “humble”, given Nomanini was already a well capitalised company with a strong team and good product. He said he would offer his experience as the company looked to establish a strong position for itself within the mobile payments space.

“Mobile transacting is an immoveable force, but is not the de facto transaction mechanism yet. Every participant in the ecosystem benefits – governments, consumers, retailers, regulators. Nobody sees it as a threat. It will just happen, and become the standard in terms of how we transact, in emerging markets and all over the world,” he said.

“Nomanini’s technology and expertise means it has the capability to play a very important role. There is a very clear focus in terms of where the product will have an impact, which is important. Too many players try to be everything to everybody, and end up failing on all counts. Nomanini has a very clear vision.”

Vahid Monadjem, chief executive officer (CEO) of Nomanini, said van Rensburg’s experience with Fundamo would be helpful to Nomanini as it looked to replicate such success.

“Nomanini, being in the payments in emerging markets space, is in markets tangential to Fundamo’s,” he said.

“Hannes has experience in scaling an innovative organisation and expanding its client base across dozens of countries. He is wonderfully candid about what worked and also what didn’t. His experience and forthrightness, combined with shared values to serve underserved markets, makes him a great addition to our team.”

Monadjem said the combination of a growing multitude of forms of electronic money, the falling cost of smartphones and data, and increasing mobile coverage was creating an enormous opportunity in electronic payments, though the sector is still in its early days. He believes the sector will see its fair share of investment as investors see the opportunities available in financial technology solutions for Africa.

“For Nomanini, it’s particularly exciting seeing the multiple approaches to solving this essential problem, specifically in approaches to retail payments, which is multiples larger than person to person payments,” he said.

“Our approach to focus on small general retailers, rather than networks of directly employed agents, is pretty unique as is our model of empowering the existing mobile airtime distribution channel.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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