Chatting with a co-founder, director and CEO of Brillant innovations was a very great moment as he shared a lot of insights into the company. Most especially, their FinTech arm, BrilliantPay which was created to solve the enormous payment problem that comes with e-commerce.
The FinTech industry is very much on the rise and it doesn’t seem like to stop anytime soon. Embracing online channels are on an increase already. Little wonder they have significantly grown since they launched some weeks back. Enjoy the interview.
What propelled you to create BrillantPay?
Was it as a result of a personal encounter?
BrillantPay came as a solution to a problem to a previous startup I was working. It was a marketplace ecommerce platform enabling sellers meet buyers. The biggest challenge it faced was rooted in the handling of payments as there was no ideal protection and assurance setups for either the buyer or the seller. Some buyers complained of receiving the wrong products from the sellers and sometimes the sellers complained of buyers who weren’t serious, as they ordered and on delivery they had changed their minds. This created a big problem as the company relied on commissions from successful sales to generate revenues hence had to close down as it couldn’t sustain from the low conversions.
Since launch, how well has the startup grown? Would you say you have made significant progress?
We launched our first version of the product in October and over 4 weeks have had over 40 interested online commerce businesses. We are doing a closed beta of a maximum of 30 clients, whom we already have now. The uptake and responses is good, better than we had foreseen. We’ve also created partnerships with all the leading Telcos, Safaricom, Airtel Kenya and Telkom as well as 3 banks and we are pretty happy with the progress.
FinTech is a rapidly growing sector in Africa. What do you think is driving this?
The biggest drive for FinTech in Africa is the shift in lifestyle and commerce from the brick and mortar and legacy systems to more inclusive online-based and mobile-based platforms. This is while sectors like banking and retail are seeing more closure of physical outlets in favour of online-based channels, and hence the need for cash payments is growing smaller as that for cashless payments is becoming bigger. Also, there are better offerings and better competition with pushing things online. All these revolve around payments hence the rapid growth of FinTech to serve these changing dynamics.
In your own view, what do you think is the greatest challenge of FinTech sector?
The greatest challenge in FinTech is access to data. Most FinTech solutions ride on banks and these banks aren’t as open. Banks don’t share their data except within themselves. Although lately a few banks have started offering open APIs for FinTechs, they are still reluctant and cautious in doing so. To create better FinTech solutions, there is need to access data, synthesize it well and then develop a useful solution.
Have you had to deal with competition so far? How has it been?
Yes there is competition in the payments scene. Some has been there for the last 5 years or so. The idea is to find a niche that hasn’t been served by the existing competition and capitalize on their shortcomings. We found that and created a unique solution that’s complementary to existing solutions. We’ve actually had a couple of clients move from an existing solution and integrating ours because of our value proposition and they are happy about it.
How is BrillantPay funded? Bootstrapped?
We initially started by using our own savings and that was the case for a while. We participated in a couple of competitions over the last 6 months like the global Citi Tech for Integrity Challenge in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the KCB Lion’s Den, Kenya’s Shark Tank, as well as Seedstars World Nairobi recently, and were able to get investment. So at least for the short term, we have got funding.
Tell us about your business model?
Our model is simple. We offer protection and assurance to all parties in a transaction to enhance trust and integrity. These are our selling values. The buyers are assured of value for money and sellers are assured of successful sales. Our solution is ideal for online commerce where buyers don’t see what they are paying for until they are delivered, or where virtual products and services are sold.
Let us in on the entire team behind BrillantPay.
The founding Team comprises long-term friends for over 15 years and having experience in different facets of finance, payments softwares, ecommerce, and banking. I previously founded an ecommerce company and with this solution it’s now doing well. I have a B.Eng in Mechanical and Production Eng, and also in Software engineering, and also an Alumni of Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program. I have led teams in creating technological entreprise solutions for insurance companies, agency banking, transport and travel. My CTO is experienced in agency banking, payment switching, web and mobile payments, as well as card processing. He has over 5 years experience in banking software solutions. He has a Bsc. in computer science and mathematics. My CFO is well experienced in banking and finance solutions having worked at Standard chattered bank and also in several other finance institutions in Kenya and UK. He holds Msc in Management and Development of international financial systems from Birmingham. We have a great synergy in our team.
In 5 years, how big do you envisage BrillantPay?
I see BrillantPay as the ideal African payments solution serving 8 countries in Africa. Our 5-year plan is to scale up our solution suite to include the latest payment services and offer the best dynamic payment services for our clients in Kenya and the rest of Africa.
In two words, describe the African FinTech industry and its prospects.