TipMe plots a course for a cashless society
As the world goes digital, Ding partner TipMe, offers individuals and businesses useful and affordable financial solutions that fit their everyday needs. This quarter, we speak to TipMe Liberia CEO Laureine Guilao, about getting the business started, being a woman in tech in Africa, her tips to building a business for the unbanked, and what fintech is bringing to Africa.
Ding: Tell us what’s unique about TipMe?
Laureine: TipMe Global was born when over years of travelling in sub-Saharan African countries we noticed a majority of businesses and individuals, including those involved in trans-border trade, traveled with huge sums of cash to pay for goods and services – we found the security concerns related to this alarming and we set out to create a company to alleviate these concerns in addition to creating a mobile platform to handle international financial transactions in different currencies as people trade across borders.
TipMe is a full-service e-payment platform designed to make electronic payments easier for individuals and businesses. We offer a mobile money wallet that enables electronic payments for goods and services; and our payment gateway is compatible with e-commerce platforms for seamless integration to websites. What sets us apart is our commitment to customer service and the transparency our service provides.
Ding: You have recently launched in Liberia – what is the appetite like among customers for mobile money in Liberia in this time of Covid-19, and what have been the key drivers of adoption of the eWallet?
Laureine: Yes, it has been almost two months since we launched in Liberia. It is our first market, and we are excited to demonstrate what TipMe has to offer. The appetite for mobile money is steadily increasing in Liberia. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards e-payments; but we still have a lot of work to do if we are to achieve a cashless society.
Ding: One of the core concerns your company is built on is financial inclusion – how you are driving financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa?
Laureine: We are passionate about financial inclusion at TipMe; and our approach to ensuring that our service is available to all is two-fold. First, though we operate through an app, we have built it in such a way that even those without a smart phone can register to become TipMe users and transact through our network of Agents. Secondly, we have some exciting plans to help increase smart phone penetration in the Liberian market. Watch this space!
Ding: When it comes to introducing new payment concepts and digital financial services to the unbanked, what tips would you share with companies looking to engage in this market?
Laureine: Patience and education are key. People are used to holding physical cash; and getting them to adjust to transacting without it will take time. Like any new concept, reinforcement is essential.
“In addition to women demanding a seat at the table, to drive greater inclusion, all leaders (women and men) need to consciously create room and nurture talent.”
Ding: What would be your advice to young women looking to go into the tech industry? And what do you think can be done to drive greater inclusion of women in the African tech space?
Laureine: My advice would be to know your stuff, speak up for yourself, and build a network of professionals who can also advocate on your behalf. However, in addition to women demanding a seat at the table, to drive greater inclusion, all leaders (women and men) need to consciously create room and nurture talent.
Ding: What is the greatest challenge to your business at the moment?
Laureine: Building trust. As a new brand, we must earn the trust of the public and this is a key focus for us. We understand that we are dealing with people’s livelihoods and we take that responsibility very seriously.
Ding: How do you see the fintech industry in Africa changing over the next few years?
Laureine: I expect the fintech space to become more competitive and innovative which will be beneficial for consumers. Technology is always evolving, and its implications in finance will naturally evolve as well. More and more consumers are relying on technology; and as this becomes the norm, fintech will become the primary means of managing one’s finances.
Ding: And finally, what are some developments in fintech that you are excited to apply to the area of mobile money?
Laureine: International remittances and bill payments are two key areas of focus for us. As we expand, we hope to explore other areas such as lending. There are so many opportunities in fintech and we plan to gradually tap into more fintech developments.
On a lighter note: