Nigeria’s OyaPay leveraging Bluetooth, QR for payments

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Nigerian fintech startup OyaPay is leveraging the power of Bluetooth Low Energy and QR to process payments offline, describing itself as “Alipay for Africa”.

Launched at the end of last year, OyaPay allows for two different types of payments: the Bluetooth-powered BluePay, and the camera-powered ScanPay.

BluePay uses Bluetooth Low Energy, wireless personal area network technology developed by Bluetooth that uses as few bytes as possible, to allow in-store merchants to accept multiple payments from more than one person at a time in a contactless and hands-free manner, reducing queues.

Meanwhile, ScanPay allows one-to-one transactions, with merchants scanning a customer’s QR code to accept payment.

“Our mission as a company is to make smartphone payments as ubiquitous as cash in Africa. We strongly believe that providing yet another new payment solution for merchants does not make a big difference, and that’s why we provide added value service such as targeted marketing and financial products to them,” OyaPay founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Abdulhamid Hassan told Disrupt Africa.

“For example, a merchant can use the money they received through OyaPay to buy financial products in no time, which can be resold to customers. Merchants can start selling airtime, and helping people pay bills.”

Hassan, a college dropout, started his firm company – an on-demand mobile laundromat app – at the age of 17. He started OyaPay due to failures with point of sale (PoS) systems in Nigeria.

“In 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the PoS as a way to drive its cashless policy. However, it turned out to be too expensive for banks to deploy, coupled with consistent bad networks which has immensely slowed down its adoption,” Hassan said.

“Besides bad network and banks’ reluctance to issue multiple PoS devices to one merchant, there is the issue of security and inability of PoS devices to read most cards. It is still a pain to pay offline merchants or accept payments without the current barriers of infrastructure or lack of trust.”

With smartphone penetration increasing in Africa, he wanted to find a way to make and receive payments using smartphones while overcoming existing infrastructural problems. This is what he believes OyaPay has done.

The self-funded startup, which is currently closing its seed round, is about to kick off a pilot programme within Nigerian universities, as it believes word of mouth will be a key driver to its adoption.

“We are also in talks with a major bank in Nigeria that is looking to deploy our solution for transit purposes,” Hassan said.

“We are kicking off operations in Nigeria. Hopefully, as we make significant progress we plan to expand our service to Kenya and Ghana.”

OyaPay makes money by charging merchants a small percentage fee on each transaction, as well as fees on disbursements. Hassan said it also charges merchants to promote targeted offers to consumers.

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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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