In this article, I examine TeamApt's evolution and draw parallels for how tech companies and startups can operate to make the most of their time in business.
In 2020, TeamApt Limited—a Nigerian company registered in April 2015—created a holding company (holdco), TeamApt Incorporated.
Last week, it announced the name change of its holdco to Moniepoint Incorporated. Moniepoint is the name of TeamApt's flagship product that offered agency banking services.
In the first quarter of 2022, TeamApt received its microfinance bank (MfB) licence and named it Moniepoint microfinance bank.
Thus, there are three known entities in the TeamApt ecosystem; a holding company (Moniepoint Inc.), and two operating companies: TeamApt Limited and Moniepoint microfinance bank.
This structure illustrated in figure 1 above is what many startups in Nigeria maintain, especially those in a regulated space like financial services.
A Delaware-registered company is created to ease capital access from foreign investors. With a US entity, you can create local US bank accounts to receive US Dollars, as opposed to working through domiciliary accounts. Also, being Delaware, a state with mainstream investment laws, allows both investors and startups to align quickly on legal terms of an investment. So, deals close faster if the entity is registered in Delaware. In fact, YC, a popular accelerator choice for startups in Africa, requires its startups to form a Delaware C-Corp before it invests.
Next, you have a company registered in the startup's operating country. To apply for a regulatory licence, you need to setup a local entity that will be used to file the application.
So, in TeamApt's case, their Nigerian entities hold the operational licences to do business in Nigeria. TeamApt Limited holds the Switching and processing licence awarded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while the Moniepoint microfinance bank holds the banking licence.
In Nigeria, many startups involved in some level of banking, opt for the acquisition of an MfB to gain quicker access to the underlying CBN licence. Also, there are grapevine conversations that the CBN is unwilling to give out new licences to MfB applicants because of the huge amount of defunct ones.
So, when these startups acquire the MfB, they then file a name change for the MfB, so that it carries the name of their brand. For example, Eyowo acquired an MfB and changed the name to reflect its brand. Thus, Eyowo's MfB is now referred to as Eyowo microfinance bank. This is the same approach that TeamApt took.
Now, how did TeamApt go from a Limited company that provided development services to banks to becoming a startup selling its products directly to customers. Figure 2 is an infographic that summarises aspects of the evolution.