Abeg Technologies Ltd secured an Approval-In-Principle (AIP) from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a Mobile Money Operator (MMO) on April 25, 2022, completely rebrands to "Pocket by PiggyVest". How did it get here?
On October 7, 2020, we wrote about a "fun" peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app, Abeg that was making waves in the tech ecosystem. While the Abeg App was published to the Google Play Store on September 4, 2020, the company—Abeg Technologies Ltd was incorporated on June 26, 2020, with its CEO, Dare Adekoya's email. In a few days of the app launch, due to the rapid traction that the app was gaining, we understand that PiggyVest was among the entities involved in talks with the young startup.
On November 29, 2021, PiggyTech Global Limited (RC: 1405222) officially acquired a 99.9% stake in Abeg Technologies Ltd, based on the CAC records seen by Benjamindada.com. But we know they had been in talks since at least October 2020.
PiggyTech is the parent company of PiggyVest—the leading online savings and investment platform in Nigeria with about 3 million users. PiggyVest's affiliation with Abeg was not public until April 2021, when Multichoice Nigeria unveiled Abeg as the Headline Sponsor for the sixth edition of Big Brother Naija (BBN)—the most popular reality TV show in Nigeria. Abeg sponsoring Big Brother is what many marketing professionals will term a massive user acquisition campaign.
The BBN sponsorship appears to have paid off.
A few months before BBN started in July 2021, Abeg reportedly had about 20,000 users and over ₦250 million in P2P transactions. Today, the app, now known as "Pocket by PiggyVest", has about 2 million users—according to an official statement sent to Benjamindada.com. This represents a 100x growth in user base. For context, Piggyvest did 30x growth in about two years and Abeg achieved 3x more growth than PiggyVest in a shorter timeline.
Beyond the brand and financial power of PiggyVest, another key part of Abeg's evolution was the fact that it morphed from a P2P app to a social commerce app. And now, it has its eyes set on continental expansion.
"The company initially started its journey as a payment platform for sending and receiving money. It has since ventured into a full social commerce app, connecting buyers and sellers across Nigeria and soon Africa", reads the statement.
PocketApp's (formerly known as Abeg) transition to a social commerce app makes it the first of such to secure a CBN MMO AIP Licence. Meanwhile, it's important to note that an AIP is not a CBN Licence. While it takes about 12-24 months to get an AIP, it usually takes a more finite time—six months—to get a full commercial licence from the CBN. In Nigeria today, there are only 16 licensed MMOs which include Paga and OPay. However, having an AIP is proof that the regulator is aware of your business and more compliance teams at regulated partner entities will be willing to engage you.
The Mobile Money Operator license will enable the company to carry out activities such as wallet creation and management, e-money issuing, USSD, agent recruitment and management, pool account management, card acquiring, and non-bank acquiring as stipulated in the regulatory requirements for non-bank merchant acquiring in Nigeria.
"The platform’s new name references its added functionalities for users to buy and sell items via virtual pocket shops and reinforces its push into a social commerce market estimated to reach $23.8 billion by 2028 in Nigeria alone", reads the statement.
Commenting on the AIP, Odunayo Eweniyi, co-Founder and COO of PiggyTech Global Limited, stated, "We’re incredibly pleased that PocketApp has been granted an approval in principle as a Mobile Money Operator in Nigeria. We will now work closely with the Central Bank to meet all its conditions to receive the full operating license, enabling us to continue growing and expanding the scope of our social payments, social commerce and other digital financial products to reach millions of Nigerian micro-entrepreneurs."
With PocketApp, micro-entrepreneurs can upload items directly from their Instagram with one click, add delivery options and rates, set price, and quantity, add pictures, and videos, escrow funds and can even allow for negotiation within one secure app.
Speaking on the company’s evolution, Patricia Adoga, COO of PocketApp, states, "For the last 18 months, we have been focused on building the core infrastructure that will enable secure social commerce and payments at scale. We believe that social commerce will thrive better in a more trusted environment. So we added escrow to our payment infrastructure, protecting buyers and sellers and many other features, ensuring a smooth shopping experience on the app."