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Inside Olu Akanmu's two years at Opay as President and co-CEO

Opay Nigeria has appointed Daudu Gotring, a former CBN director as its Managing Director following the resignation of Olu Akanmu after his two years run at the company.

Inside Olu Akanmu's two years at Opay as President and co-CEO
Olu Akanmu and Daudu Gotring 

Olu Akanmu has resigned from his role as the co-CEO of Opera’s Africa fintech startup OPay. OPay is one of the largest fintech companies in Africa, with over 30 million users, about 500,000 agents and more than 300,000 merchants.

Akanmu announced his resignation on Monday via his social media pages: “End of a Chapter. Moving on to New Ones,” he said. “My gratitude to all my colleagues for the good work we did deepening financial inclusion in Nigeria and ensuring that less and less number of people are left out in partaking out of the opportunities of the digital financial system.”

Two years ago, Opera appointed Akanmu a former FCMB Executive Director for Retail Banking, as the new president and co-CEO of Opay. Prior to his appointment, Opay operations in Nigeria were led by Yahui Zhou, chairman and co-CEO of Opera and Iniabasi Akpan, the then Nigeria Country Manager of Opay.

Taking over and growing Opay in Nigeria

Akanmu was succeeding Zhou shortly after the company attained its unicorn status after raising $400 million in financing led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, valuing the company at $2 billion—making it the second African fintech unicorn after Flutterwave.

“Many thanks also to all our ecosystem partners and enablers who complimented us, without which we would not have been able to deliver on the lofty mission of OPay which is to deepen financial inclusion through technology,” Akanmu said.

Earlier this year during the cash crunch in Nigeria, Opay recorded remarkable growth taking a position as one of the two most downloaded finance apps on Google Playstore in Nigeria. “Our platforms deliver low latency and high transaction concurrence that guarantee the highest reliability of transaction success. The market clearly noticed,” Akanmu told Rest of World.

To corroborate his claim, Joyce Pius, an agency banker in a rural community in Central Nigeria told Bendada.com that: “During the cash scarcity earlier this year, most of the shops [in the community] had to get PoS machines to help with transactions. Also, to avoid inter-bank transfer challenges with traditional banks, many people opted for digital banks like Opay, Palmpay and Moniepoint.”

“The lesson of the cashless or limited Cash period earlier in the year is that millions are not yet included despite the progress we have made collectively as an ecosystem, says Akanmu,” says the former co-CEO of Opay Nigeria.

As of April this year, Opay said it has 30 million registered users in Nigeria from 5 million in 2020, and 500 agents, from the 300 it had in 2021 when Akanmu joined. The fintech is currently holding a series of activities to mark its fifth anniversary in Nigeria, including a rebrand of its logo.

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Most people became aware of OPay in June 2019, when its bike-hailing service was launched with an outlandish ₦100 promo. But the company's story didn’t start then, neither did it begin in 2019. OPay has been operating since 2010 in the pouch of PayCom Nigeria Limited—a mobile money platform incubated by Telnet (Nigeria) Limited.

After operating for seven years, Opera indicated interest in acquiring PayCom in 2017. They put pen to paper in 2018 and OPay was birthed in August of the same year.

After the 2020 ban on motorcycles in Lagos, and the effects of the pandemic, OPay switched its focus to payments in Nigeria and Egypt. This led to the hiring of Akanmu.

OPay, a portmanteau of Opera and Payment, is also fit to be interpreted as Opera and PayCom.

What's next for Olu Akanmu and Opay Nigeria?

Although Akanmu did not share specific details about his next steps, his resignation note shows his commitment to ensuring financial inclusion in Nigeria and the rest of the continent.

“For the Nigeria Fintech community, the imperative of ensuring that we serve not only the banked and underserved, but also the completely excluded which still represents at least 45% of our people should be our collective and greater patriotic mission, complementing the historic efforts of traditional players,” he said.

Opay Nigeria has announced that Daudu Gotring will take over from Akanmu as the Managing Director of the fintech. However, his appointment is subject to regulatory approval. Gotring is a former director of the trade and exchange department at the Central Bank of Nigeria and he also contested for the Plateau state gubernatorial seat in the last Nigerian general elections.

“Mr Gotring, a veteran in the financial services industry, will continue to steer the Opay ship in the direction of even greater strides,” the company said in a statement seen by Bendada.com.


Editor's Note: We edited What's next for Ola Akanmu and Opay Nigeria? to What's next for Olu Akanmu and Opay Nigeria?. (August 1, 2023 - 09:07 WAT)

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