The last decade was a watershed for the Nigerian technology industry. The desire to use technology to solve problems grew with a new culture of entrepreneurship, allowing businesses to transform how millions of Nigerians live in the digital age.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the financial services sector. Fintech startups are taking on banks and disrupting their legacy operations by offering digitally native products and services — a task made easier by the fact that relatively few people in the country have bank accounts.
Here are five key stats that sum up the state of, and the opportunities in, Nigeria’s booming fintech sector.
45%: The percentage of Nigerian adults that have a bank account
Just 47.6 million of the 106 million adults in Nigeria have a bank account, according to a 2020 survey by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA). That means a significant number of the country’s adults remain unbanked, or lack access to formal financial services.
The figures are even starker when you zero in on specific services like credit, which is available to only 3% of the adult population, or insurance, which has a penetration rate of 2%. The EFInA study suggests affordability and issues with perception continue to dissuade people from using banks. But it also cites a lack of convenience, saying that a high number of Nigerian adults are alienated from formal financial services due to the physical distance between their banks and home and the length of time needed for most bank processes.
This is an opportunity that fintechs hope to seize in order to make access to banking services smoother and more convenient for the 36% of Nigerian adults that are financially excluded.
$256 billion: The total sum of money Nigerians transferred electronically in 2019
Digital payments in Nigeria have surged more than fivefold since 2014, hitting 105 trillion naira ($256 billion) by 2019. This rise was partially fueled by companies like Flutterwave and Paystack, which developed easy-to-use payment solutions for individuals and businesses.
This is why it wasn’t a surprise when U.S. payments giant Stripe paid over $200 million to acquire Paystack in October 2020, or Tiger Global valued Flutterwave at over $1 billion in March. Others are also getting involved: The Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS) and Interswitch have developed infrastructure like real-time transfers that fintechs rely on.
3: The number of fintech unicorns from Nigeria
Ten years ago, it was rare to see a Nigerian startup raising $10 million. Now the country’s fintech unicorns are becoming just as valuable as its banks.
Today, Interswitch and Flutterwave are valued at over $1 billion each, while OPay is valued at $2 billion. Nigeria now has the most unicorns of any country in Africa, with all three earning that status within the last couple of years.
44%: Fintech as % of total startup funding deals
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Nigeria’s three unicorns are all fintechs: The largest share of startup investment in the country has gone into that sector. Investors have spent the last five years pouring cash into dozens of fintechs: In 2019, $350 million went to three fintechs in just one week.
Across cross-border payments companies, digital savings, and agency banking startups, investors are optimistic that Nigerian startups are worthy bets that will pay off.
$3.6 billion: The amount Nigerians have invested in savings and investment products
As the Nigerian economy declined over the last six years, the naira, the national currency, has tumbled in value against the U.S. dollar.
With traditional banks paying insufficient interest on savings relative to rampant inflation and the devaluing naira, Nigerians have been seeking out better ways to save their money, including fintech-enabled savings and investments. Others are investing in dollar-denominated assets like dollar savings products and U.S. equities through fintech platforms. The total has risen sharply, from 223 billion naira ($541.7 million) in 2016 to 1.4 trillion ($3.4 billion) in 2020.