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The largest fintech community in the world. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest in news opinions, and all things financial technology.

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🎧 Podcast: Hey Fintech Friends ft Benjamin Fernandes (Nala Money)

"I think one thing that's interesting is the African cross border trade volume has doubled in the last two years. And there's no other region of the world where that's happened," - Benji..

🎧 Podcast: Hey Fintech Friends ft Benjamin Fernandes (Nala Money)

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‎Hey Fintech Friends!: Hey Fintech Friends ft Benjamin Fernandes (Nala Money) on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Hey Fintech Friends!, Ep Hey Fintech Friends ft Benjamin Fernandes (Nala Money) - 27 Jul 2023

Summary of the podcast episode

  • Intro to the show. ⁠0:00⁠
    • Welcome to one of the best news and fintech podcasts out there.
    • Fintechionary: mpesa, a mobile banking service that allows users to store and transfer money through their mobile phones.
    • News
  • Benjamin's background. ⁠5:05⁠
    • Benjamin Fernandez, founder and CEO of Nala, and how he got involved in the payments industry in the first place.
    • Why Africa is the most expensive region to transact in the world.
    • Building African payment routes.
  • The challenges of payments across the continent. ⁠8:11⁠
    • Helen going to Gambia
    • Payments across Africa are going to be built over the next five to 10 years, and there is massive opportunity and challenges.
    • The future of the African tech space over the next five to 10 years, and what the future of African tech will look like in the region.
    • How African countries will be able to trade with each other more often and more frequently and also make sure the cost of these trades is low.
  • Responsibility of the diaspora to help the continent. ⁠13:23⁠
    • The big question that everyone has been trying to ask themselves since independence is the question of what responsibility the diaspora has to Africa.
    • The burden of financial support for African families in the U.K. is a lot of weight, and the burden falls on fellow African citizens.
    • The two most popular reasons for sending money home are the health industry and the education industry.
  • How does the diaspora see the country? ⁠18:48⁠
    • The african cross-border trade volume has doubled in the last two years, and there is no other region in the world where that has happened.
    • There are many pull and push factors from this. For example, sometimes there was trade happening through cash on planes, and because of covid, a lot of those transactions have become digital.
    • The market size is significantly massive. Most people don't realise how big it truly is.
  • How to build trust into a digital product? ⁠23:19⁠
    • One of the things that has worked really well for Nala is transparency. They tell their customers every single thing they're building. They also do customer meetups.
    • Nine out of 10 customers after one year still use Nala because of the honesty they are honest.
0:00
/0:55

Transcript

Benji 5:05
Cool. Great. My name is Benjamin Fernandez. I'm the founder and CEO of Nala. My home is Tanzania, East Africa. So that's where I grew up. I grew up in Dar Salam. And when I was 17, I got a scholarship opportunity that took me to America for the first time to live there and went in. So I started studying there, and got involved in payments through television.
So used to be a TV host on local TV, then moved to looking at payments in local payments through TV subscriptions.
So enabling people to pay for a TV subscription services through mobile money. That's how I got involved in the industry in the first place. And then the joke that I have friends when you don't know what to do like to go to grad school.
So that's what took me back to America the second time. And you know, really started looking at, you know, payments as an industry that I was really passionate about, and really wanted to make a difference in the space. So the question I would ask myself is, why is Africa, which is the lowest income region in the world, the most expensive to transact? And that didn't make any sense to me. And so the question that keeps me up at night is, how can we use technology to reduce the cost of global trade with the region that I really care about a lot? So that's the question we answer now learn and work towards solving every single day.

Helen 6:23
Yeah, I mean, I have a specific anecdote from a couple of weeks ago, when I was when I was in Africa. But before we kind of go into that, like, so, like, how would you explain what Nala is doing? If as if you were to explain it to like your grandmother? Like, how would you explain it in the most simple terms? Yeah, so

Benji 6:41
we have two products. We have a consumer product which enables people to send money from the UK, the United States and 19 European countries to seven African countries today. So people can download an application on their phone, and connect to any UK bank or US bank or European bank and send it to every single bank account in most markets that we operate in, in Africa, or mobile money wallets that we operate within Africa, so the likes of M PESA, MTN and so on, and other countries. These are mobile network operators that provide a wallet for people to manage their finances locally in these regions. So that's our consumer product and our business products; we're basically building African payment rails, so enabling global trade for people who are trying to build businesses long-term across the continent. So large companies that are doing cross border trade and things like that, we have a knowledge business product that supports those sorts of businesses,

Helen 7:34
you can see it's definitely so needed in Africa, and so my, tangent that I was gonna go on, on my anecdote was, I was in Gambia, maybe three weeks ago. And although you don't operate in Gambia,

Benji 7:48
not yet, but Gambia is coming soon, very soon, actually, a couple a couple of weeks away, Oh,

Helen 7:53
that's amazing, because it's needed. But like, I'm Nigerian, so in a lot of ways, when every time I go to Africa, I'm kind of used to the system understand the system of transferring money is not impossible.

But yeah, it's not as easy as like, being in the UK. Going to Gambia was like a whole nother situation because it really took me back to like, kind of, I guess, your kind of mission statement, because pretty much everything is cash, pretty much even staying in the fanciest hotel in the whole of Gambia, whatever, it doesn't really matter. No, you can't use a card. Everything is a money transfer; everything is cash. And actually, like being anywhere else, you need to have dollars a lot of the time. And I think it shows kind of where, where Africa is, in a lot of ways, like how have you seen it change since kind of starting now? Like what of kind of like the problems that you've seen? Do you have? Do you have any sort of anecdotes like that,

Benji 8:48
I think payments across the African continent are 1% built. I think there's so much that's going to be built over the next five to 10 years, I think there is massive opportunity and challenges with building across the African continent from an infrastructure perspective.
You know, there's some banking systems that, you know, need some work on and we like as Nala but also many other incredible companies across the African continent, which I'm massively in support of, are working on trying to solve some of these things and reducing the cost of simple transactions in Gambia, like, yeah, like you described, or other countries around the continent where it was 54 or 55 countries in Africa, depending who you ask, but who's enabling the global world of commerce and trade with all these countries, right? The fact that you can't pick ten countries across Africa that you can send money to directly within 10 minutes. And you can do that in Europe, like, you know, when will that happen? You know, are we five years away? Are we 10 years away or 15 years away from that happening? And so I think there's a lot that's going to be built on the continent and I'm really excited for the whole new generation of young tech entrepreneurs or even older tech entrepreneurs who are really looking at the industry and trying to fix these problems through technology?
I think there is a massive opportunity there in terms of what impact it will create for the global world of trade, but also enabling these economies directly locally and creating new job opportunities for people. I'll give you one example. You know, TikTok last year paid over $1.3 billion in gift cards globally. Why? Why, you know, why couldn't they send that money directly to an M PESA wallet in Tanzania or MTN, in Nigeria, or, you know, a UBA bank account there, right?
And who's gonna enable large global companies like that they're trying to, like build this whole new creative economy, when our African creators are extremely talented, going to be paid directly into their own wallets, where they can use it and local fiat currency in their own market, versus getting sent a gift card that, you know, how many Netflix subscriptions Are you going to buy for people, you can buy five, you know, you're not going to buy for the whole country, right? You know, I met a friend who received recently received a gift card of like, $1,400.
And he's like, I don't travel, I don't have a passport. I don't know what to do with this, you know. So I think those are the sorts of things that, you know, there while there is a like, the continent is evolving and growing. Like, there's still a lot of challenges from an infrastructure perspective that, you know, companies like ourselves like Nala really work hard day in day out to try to resolve.

Helen 11:21
when it comes to Africa or any country, it's not, I mean, any continent or anywhere; smartphones are everywhere. And they're so ubiquitous. So it's, you know, smartphones have essentially made it that it's not, they've kind of bridge this gap that we used to have when it's like, one country is like this one country's like, that's everyone has a smartphone. And I think Africans in a lot of ways is their head when it comes to kind of how people use smartphones or how people transfer money in smartphones. What do you see is like kind of, I guess, the hopeful elements where you could say, like, things are moving ahead, and the infrastructure is being created.

Benji 11:59
I'm excited for what the future of the African tech space is going to look like over the next five to 10 years, what's going to be evolving and built in the region? I think there are people who are focusing on the problems in these markets. And I think that's going to be massively impactful for what the value of the solutions that they create. And I think we're going to see the long term value of this over the next several years, not maybe not even today, right? And even with simple items, such as infrastructure locally in the market, like how are we doing that at a scale that enables even intra Africa trade? For example, today, Nigeria trades a lot with the UK or other countries are gonna trade a lot with European markets, like Tanzania buys butter from Europe, instead of buying it right next door from Kenya. Why? Right? Like, as logistics starts to get better, as trade starts to get better as transportation starts to gets better within both countries? Like how do we make these cheaper versus that Swiss Air flight that flies in every single day to Tanzania bringing goods in and out? Right? So how do we enable African countries to trade with each other more often and more frequently? And also make sure the cost of these trades are low? So with FX losses here and there with currency, volatility with different markets, how do we use the stability of African governments, hopefully long term to enable businesses to really thrive in these regions? Is the big question that we have to ask ourselves.

Helen 13:25
Yeah. I mean, that's, that's a huge question. And answering that would take solve many global problems. Yeah. And I think I think it's the question that everyone's essentially been trying to ask or ask or answer since like, independence, have a lot of former African have a lot of former like colonial countries. And I think there is a lot of change, but there's a lot of drawbacks. I have a question. What do you see the, I guess, responsibility? Or is there a responsibility to like for like the diaspora to kind of help with this kind of infrastructure that you're talking about? Or the development of all these countries? Yeah, I

Benji 14:14
think it's a good question. I think the question about like, what responsibility we see the diaspora to help, you know, it's, it's a big question.
So when I went to America for the first time, like for grad school, I was diaspora, right? Because like, I used to live in Tanzania, and now I live in America, and I was going to grad school, and I started working there, but my family and everybody lives back home. So like, I'm also trying to support different work and different things, my cousins, my relatives, and so on, like, you know, I think the African diaspora definitely have a larger burden financially to support their families. Because there's a whole idea of generational wealth, doesn't it massively issue in many African families. You don't have families who've been here for five generations in London that have earned so much money they don't like their families are taken care of in, you know, Nigeria, right?

So when you ask, like a lot of African diaspora, like, very rarely will you find somebody who has been here in their 40s in the UK, that doesn't send money to Africa, like very rare, unless it's like the new, younger, like, whatever woke generation or whatever, you know, I joke about it, but you know, it's, it's the thing is, like really looking at, there's a lot of weight for like this burden falls around fellow Africans about like, trying to build back the continent, you know, but I think the the question that everybody should ask ourselves is, to each their own right. So like, it shouldn't be like every diaspora feeling like they have to help Africa, right? It's not that burden should be on them. But it's the question of what they truly want to do, what they're like, and if they are doing it for the praise.

Are you doing it for your purpose, if you really, truly believe that you need to do that and build and help build a continent through technology through payments to sending money to funding projects? I think that's where you can jump in. And you know, the diaspora could be involved even, like, a lot of the work we do, most of our customers are African diaspora in the UK, the US and Europe, right? And then we have a bunch of people who are also building businesses through Nala. So about 28% of our user base or daily active, and we asked them, like, what are you doing? Like, why are you active daily? It's really weird because, like, most people send money once a month; you're sending money every single day; like what's going on. And they'll tell us something like, oh, Benji. I'm actually building this business. Back in Ghana, I'm actually building this business back in Kenya, I'm actually building this business back in Tanzania, that I'm trying to run from here and collect revenue. So I can use those revenues from there to support my family instead of just keep sending money every single month. Right. You know, the other thing that, you know, even with sending money home, like there are two elements that it also is heavily weighed on it is the health industry. The second one is also the education industry.
Seems like those are the two most popular reasons for why reasons for why people send money home, it's like, oh, so and so is in hospital, and I need to send money to support them. And those aren't small bills. Those are big bills that people have to, you know, take up and, you know, use their own UK salary to help cover write, and it's not easy. And you might also say, well, doesn't everybody have insurance? Or it doesn't the NHS exists in Africa? No, it doesn't. And my first time getting health insurance, my whole life was the first time I moved to America. I didn't ever have health insurance. Even when I moved back to Tanzania, I didn't have insurance. Recently, when I started when raisingour investors, like one of our investors, like during the due diligence process, asked me.

It's not a normal thing. less than 2% of the African population have health insurance, right? It's not, and there's an aspect of trust that's messy. There's an aspect of, you know, I was telling my friends, jokingly I said, building an insurance company in Africa is really hard, because your competition is literally Jesus. Right? So like, people like, Oh, I'm gonna pray, I'll be fine. And I'll be okay. So so I think that's one is the health care issue. The second one is education. Right? So people want to support loved ones, nephews, nieces, aunties, you know, whoever is going to school. But you know, what else happens to that money? Does that stop African diaspora from let's say, you know, in your case, I say, owning a house in London because they've sent 40% of their wealth back to Nigeria. Right. And they could have parked that money to own a house here, then hopefully, generationally like that, you know, and so, these are the challenges that you particularly see with African diaspora that you know, and I said, not everybody should be responsible to send money home, but it's to each their own. Like, if you want to build the continent, you can, I'm not saying if you're not saying when home, you're not building the content, you can vote for many different ways, right? So like, whether you turn into a VC in the tech space, or you will accompany that, you know, the results problem as African in tech space locally. Those are all up to you.

Helen 18:48
I think you bring up some like really interesting points there. Like I, I actually am, what am I like third or fourth generation diaspora on my mom's side, but then I'm like, second, second, or first generation on my dad's so he was the first to come on his side. So I've kind of seen it from both perspectives, where now I feel like very connected but disconnected from Africa. But I don't necessarily feel this obligation to send to do anything. But then I think equally, I have friends who they want to go and they want to build and all these types of things. And sometimes if you if you're born and raised in like the West, I equally feel like you using sometimes think of it in a very western perspective as though people aren't already doing stuff. Like the business you you're creating. Like it was born in Tanzania, Nia, it was created in Tanzania. So it's not to say that necessarily like people in Tanzania, Tanzania don't see these problems, or people in Nigeria don't see these issues. But the infrastructure is not there for them to do something like I've met the smartest people I know in Nigeria, but equally, you know, it's a small percentage of the population and it's a very, very big country. So I feel like sometimes the diaspora can, I guess, see it from like, a perspective where you you're kind of re you you're kind of doing a lot of the things that you hate that like, I guess like colonisation, bro where you're trying to tell people how to run a country just because like you've had a Western education and stuff. So is that so I think for like it's very specific and interesting fine line and the insurance fit is very funny. I think you're definitely right, you're essentially competing with God. And I think that education element is an easier sell than telling people there's something wrong because it's just not built into the fabric of the society. So when people do see it, they don't know. Yeah, it's like last on their list, although I feel like that's changing like, well, the last time I went to Nigeria, I feel like hospitals, or just doctors, the doctors in general is not necessarily seen as much more of a privilege, and more of a kind of nice to happen. So I do I do feel like I do, I do see it changing quite a bit. But then equally, it's so so big, that it's like I'm really only talking about specific part of the country that's very developed and has a lot of good infrastructure. And I was wondering, do you have like, you can say no, if you don't, but do you have like a fact or stat that you've like read recently that you thought was quite interesting to do with this topic?

Benji 21:08
I think one thing that's interesting is the African cross border trade volume has doubled in the last two years. And there's no other region of the world where that's happened. And I think there's many pull and push factors from this, for example, sometimes there was trades that were happening through cash on planes, like people carrying money, literally on planes in cash to do transactions and trades. And because of COVID, that spearheaded a lot of those transactions to become digital. So those trades are still happening regardless. But now they're actually digitally tracked. And so we were like, Oh, wow, okay, this mark is actually bigger than we initially assumed. For example, Helen, I'm sure you see this, like, I can pull up WhatsApp groups upon WhatsApp groups, or even like Nigerians in the UK. So you might Nigeria. You have all these WhatsApp groups. And everyone's like, who's got an Naira, I've got pounds, I'll give you pounds here, give me an Naira in Nigeria. And I'm in like, 15 or 20 of these WhatsApp groups, just in the UK, a lot of Nigerians. And people are like, this is how people send money, right. But the point I'm trying to make is, those transactions aren't tracked. Right. And so what's my point is, how big is the market truly, like, there's official numbers, I will say like, okay, the market size is this big, but then unofficial numbers is maybe, you know, 60 to 70% of the true volume. Like if I take you to East London, Helen, and we go get a haircut, my barber in East London, I asked him I was like, hey, like, I remember the first time somebody told me that it's unbelievable. I went to get a haircut in East London, like, you know, barking area Dagenham, those neighbourhoods, and literally you get your hair cut. And then you ask them, like, hey, I want to send money to Kenya, or Ghana, the Barbara will pull up his cell phone and ask you, which rate Do you want and show you like, maybe 30 WhatsApp groups with different rates. And then you pick the rate and I tried this, you pick the rate and you give him cash or like Senate bank transfer to his account. And the money will literally arrive in Kenya or Ghana within an hour. Right. And so this whole ecosystems of global transactions to African economies built on trust built through WhatsApp, right? And so to market size is significantly massive that most people actually don't realise how big it truly is. No, I

Helen 23:15
do you know what, this isn't the same example. But I was at a wedding Nigerian wedding on the weekend. And if you hadn't if you've ever been to Nigerian wedding, but we we obviously spray, so we, we spoke with money, yeah, with cash. And it doesn't matter that we're not in America, we use we use dollars. So like, you go to a wedding. And there'll be these guys a comment what the names are. And they're just at the back with a bunch of dollars. They're essentially like money exchange people. And like any major, like, it's not like you think, Oh, where are these people? They're always there. Like, it's like, it's their job. They go to every single wedding. And I heard the other day, I was thinking about the other day, because I was like, That is quite bizarre. Like, I don't see that in any other part of my life. Because everything is digital. And not only is it digital, why are they? Why do they have dollars? It's bizarre, but it's not bizarre because like, it's part of the culture, it's entrenched within what we do, what's what we do how we trust, and essentially they'll tell you the rate. It's not like I've ever looked up, like, how much is the $20 that I'm buying or whatever it is. I just take it and I accept it. And I spray it on the couple getting married. And so I get what you mean, because there are these a lot of these, like, I was gonna say strange, but they're not even strange. They're just inbuilt things that I feel like with cash. And like my culture, we just do, but we don't even think about it. Because we're like, this is just the system. And this is how the system goes. And we're just going to do it. And I think I even saw that in Gambia because to your point like, on the strip, the main strip, there's like money. It's like a whole strip of money exchanges, and you go into every single one and every single one is giving you like a different rate just to beat the other one. But you're just trusting all these systems and you're not even necessarily sure or what the back end of it looks like. You just know that they've been doing this since the beginning of time. So you just you just do it with them.

Benji 25:07
Yeah, exactly. 100%. Yeah. And you just, it's built as part of the culture. It's built on trust. And yeah, like trust beats everything at the end of the day. So how

Helen 25:15
do you build that trust into knowledge, like knowledge digital, you're trying to kind of get people away from that cash society? So how do you build that into a digital product?

Benji 25:24
Great question. So one of the things that was really interesting for us as one things that has worked really well for us, one of the premises that we built Nala on is just like transparency. For example, if you go to a website, our roadmap is there. We tell our customers every single thing we're building, and people are like, aren't you crazy? Like your competitors are gonna look at that. I'm like, Cool. Competition makes us all better. If anything, it raises the bar of stuff they should have built a long time ago, quite frankly, right. And then, even with our customers, we tried to do customer meetups. So every city we're in, we're like, okay, cool. We're hosting this meetup with our customers, and our customers show out. Like a week ago, two weeks ago, I was in Boston, and like we tied to a customer event with with with one of these athletes that were coming into town we had, like, 140 people show up to meet us, as Nala, right. And that sort of thing builds us trust because people were like, trust our brand trust people behind the company.
And we're very honest about stuff. And so for trust building for us, like it's many elements, one is transparency through telling people about, like what we're building and what why we're building it. So like they make requests, we add the requests of the board and like we tell them when it's going to be prioritised, we will know when that we're going to build what they've asked for. The second thing is to community events. So we do a lot of community events in different communities, like Ghanaian communities, you can communities, transient communities, you know, Rwandan communities, and be able to build trust that way. The third thing is we're honest. So for example, if you open an application, there's a compare rates button. And we will tell you about our rates and our competitors rates. And we will tell you, when our competitor has a better rate than us, we will tell you like, Hey, today, we're not the best truly we aren't. And you can open the app right now you can read it. And we're like, you know, truthfully, we aren't the best. But you know what, that leads to heroin. Nine out of 10 customers, after one year still use Nala because of that, because we're honest, right. And so even though we're not the best, like we tell people, we're not the best. And I think that for us builds a better long lasting business for us long term, versus just trying to hype on small wins here and there and that aren't long term sustainable. Other things we do to build trust is we really tried to like tell people when we suck, so for example, if there's a bank transfer that's delayed to Nigeria, or Ghana or something, we will tell people like, hey, look, this is what happened. And here's why this happened. And we write that in our copy. Obviously, some people don't care. But you know, for the people who do like it reassures them that we acknowledge that run away with their money or like put their money somewhere else. We're like, here's what happened. Here's our fail. Obviously, people are still upset. But I think versus just saying, Oh, it's delayed. I think people will be more upset if we didn't tell them the why behind why it's too late.

Helen 28:03
That's so funny. You know, only the milk brand. What the vegan bought is oat milk. Okay. Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I think British right. Yeah. So okay, so it's an oat milk brand. And they have this whole section on their website, which so they've had a lot of, I guess, controversy. And they've got this whole section on their website, where they they write down, they, they've created links to all the controversies they've had, so that people can kind of essentially, all the all the all the things that people want to boycott and stuff. But I think in a lot of ways, it's quite similar to what you're doing where you're building, like, I know that I would use it, because they're not trying to hide anything. You're trying to say, like, we're not, we sometimes mess up. But that's all right. And I feel like that, like you said, creates people wanting to actually use it again. I'm gonna move on, because we're running out of time. Just two quick things. I'm going to ask you the question, the last question that the last guest asked, and it was, what regrets do you have on your journey as a founder,

Benji 29:01
none to be honest, like, I'm not a person who lives life with regret. I think everything happens for a reason. I think if God put you on this earth, like, there was a reason why those things happen. There are lessons that you learn from them. Obviously, there are things that I will do differently with hindsight. But, you know, I don't like going to sit down and cry over spilt milk, I wish I should have could have whatever, right? Because then you'll say that forever about every single thing in life. Right. So, however, with hindsight, what would I have done differently? I think I would have been bolder with many things. You know, like, as you're building a tech business, like, look, I didn't grow up in a family that had tech entrepreneurs, or VC-backed companies and so on, right? So like, as I'm jumping to this journey, like, I knew the mentality of build a stable business, make sure it's profitable. Make sure the unit economics make sense and all this other stuff. Then you go to Silicon Valley, and you realise all these people are raising money on vibes, and like, you're like, oh, wow, like cool. This is how it's happening. Okay, cool. And then, like, tell a really cool story and some investors gives them like $10 million to build like a Google Chrome extension on like, a Google Chrome extension got that, like, if you give me $10 million, I'll make magic happen in Africa like things like you build a proper proper business. Right? And, you know, with that, you know what, while I give that example, I think, you know, we live in a world where, like, opportunities everywhere, but the distribution of opportunity isn't right. And so, as I started to learn and build the business, I really started to look at what things could I have been bolder with what I wanted to do, like, what are some of the statement things I like? Okay, cool. You know what, let's just do this. And I think I've gotten significantly better on that over the last three, four years. And you know, what I tell our team is two things. One, if you don't take responsibility, you take orders. And I think that's a principle of life. And then the second one is, like, I think indecisiveness is so dangerous. So I'd rather put a stake in the ground and be wrong versus not trying at all. And I think, you know, somebody will wait, we because they're too scared of being wrong. But right now, I'm just kind of trying and like, not like, not even knowing right, and asking myself, what if. And so I think that's the approach, obviously, with proper judgement, and so on, don't go and do something crazy and say, Oh, I heard Benji said on a podcast, but really think strategically about like, Alright, what's, what's a big bet? Like, let's be bold about this, as we think strategically about this and put a stake in the ground and put our money where our mouth is.And, like, I think that those are some of the things I would have done. Older earlier, I think. Yeah, we've went through a lot as a company, like Helen, when you when we first met, we were just coming out from a pivot, we built this entire business in Tanzania grew to 23,000 customers, and then had to shut down that entire business. And then we're pivoting to international money transfer. And that was one of the hardest moments for me as a founder ever. And I remember many people are saying like, Oh, just shut it down. Okay, cool. Good job. Like it was a good run whatever, like, you know, return investor money, like close shop, like restart a business or whatever. And I had to, you know, talk to my CEO and CTO and tell them like, Hey, guys, look, let's go at it again. And restart all over from zero Helen, I'd never lived in England before ever. Before we launching a business here today, our largest customer bases in the UK. I remember the first time I was trying to come to England on my Tanzanian passport when we were red-listed. I flew through Uganda for about 14 days in Uganda, I got sent back to Tanzania. I flew through Amsterdam, I got sent back to Tanzania, I flew through Doha, I got sent back to Tanzania. I went and got a visa to go to America, just so I can get to England, to meet our customers for the first time while trying to build this business. During the pandemic. I get to England, they're like, Oh, what are you doing here? I'm like, I'm going to see Stonehenge, because like, you know, I'm on a tourism visa, I can't work. So I like make something up, just get into the country. And so, like, I'm trying my best to build this business as an entrepreneur, right? Like today, like this time last year, we had, like 1213 people at the company today we have 91 in the last 12 months. Right? And did I think that would happen? Did I think you know, like, we'd be where we are today? Absolutely not could have written it like this. Absolutely not like you know, but I was just push our team to really focus on the problem focus on our customers. And like, that's why retention rate is so high. Like, if we truly fall in love with the promo, we're going to build solutions that are going to be effective and massively valuable for our business.

Helen 33:28
I do think you make a good point now because it's really really number one, just on a side note, I do think it's so difficult when you have a passport, like passport privilege is a real thing. And being able to build on being able to do anything really, it's a privilege, like it's a privilege to be born somewhere that allows you to move around allows you to meet people, places, etc. And you're even just that obstacle is just so difficult. Like, I think being born and raised in the UK, sometimes it's easy to be like, I'm just gonna go here, I'm just gonna go there. Brexit has made it a little bit more difficult, but not anything compared to anyone who has a passport. That's non-western, essentially, like, the reality is you can go anywhere. And and like I said, You're not just trying to do tourism, you're trying to actually build something. So it's really, really difficult. And so I'm always in awe of everybody, because it's just not fair. It's honestly not fair. And then secondly, yeah, I just think it's you everyone chooses like their path in life. And you sometimes you are the kind of worker and sometimes you are the person leading the ball. And sometimes you're just chilling because you're born rich, and you don't have to do anything. And we all have to kind of decide and I think all three paths are great well, because they're just different elements of your life and not what isn't for the other and vice versa. So, yeah, it's difficult, but yeah, I think it's about being bold, like you said. All right. I'm gonna ask you a couple questions. Just a quick fire. It has nothing to do with fintech. It's just random questions. Yeah. Okay, cool.

sunrise or sunset sunset.

Would you ever live in a world with no caffeine Or a world with only raw food?

Benji 35:11
No caffeine. I don't really drink coffee. I don't drink coffee at all. So, no, caffeine is good.

Helen 35:15
What would be the tagline to the sitcom of your life? That's

Benji 35:18
a red flag.

Helen 35:19
That's a red flag. Would you rather perform surger Or fly a commercial plane without qualifications?

Benji 35:39
for a commercial plane? Without qualifications? Yeah, why is that? I don't know. I think surgery I will just be like, what the moment I see like blood secure. Like, I'm just gonna feed. But like flying a plane. Being a pilot was one of my dream, like jobs when I was a kid. Sure, many people like have a dream. I want to be violent, you know. But yeah, I think probably flying a plane because I think it'd be fun to figure out what this button does. Oh, that's cool.

Helen 36:09
Okay, yeah, you'll figure it out. But fair enough. I think I'm the same to be there. Would you rather speak all languages or be able to speak to all animals,

Benji
I think I'd rather speak all languages. I think languages are so powerful. Like today, I joined this call with this large German cross border payments company. And I spoke to them in German. And they were like, Whoa, I learned German for 10 years. And then recently, I took Chinese for two years and in grad school, and I think the ROI of learning two years of basic Chinese is way higher than any other language I've learned.

Helen 36:48
Chinese. I did it for a bit as well when I was in university. And just I think, because you have to wrap your head around just a whole new concept of like, the structure of like things. So I found that very difficult. But I found it closer to like Europe in a weird way than I did English. It's not that your vote is like Chinese. But I think maybe it's something to do with the pronunciation. What other languages do you speak?

Benji 37:12
I speak English, German, Swahili and elementary Chinese.

Helen 37:16
That's a lot. But no, no animal languages. Would you rather work more hours a day, but have longer weekends or fewer hours a day with more workdays, who?

Benji 37:27
Depends on who you asked. If you asked my assistant should probably tell you that I need to sleep more.

Benji 37:34
If you asked me I'd rather work. I'd rather have more hours in a day to be honest. So I could do more things

Helen 37:56
only have liquidised food or never hear music?

Benji 38:01
I need music so only have liquidised food.

Helen 38:04
Okay, lots of protein shakes.

Benji 38:07
Yeah, exactly. Alright, other than that, I love music.

Helen 38:13
And Okay, last ice keep saying last question. But this is the last question. What do you think we should ask the next friend?

Benji 38:35
What matters to them most in life and why? What matters the most in life and why? Deep? Okay, I'm gonna write that down. That's a good question. All right, Benji, this has been pleasant. I feel like I've learnt so much about you. And it's just been cute. Thank you so much for coming on. Hey FinTech fans,

for sure. Yeah, thank you so much for inviting me say to the team.

Signals

Helen 38:42
Signals is our subscriber any rates and I'm going to read you a snippet from one of the latest articles.

Every FinTech will be an AI company, Q2. Each quarter, we break down four questions on FinTech activity. Number one, which concepts are getting funded?

Number two, where are the exits, M&A, and SPAC. concentrated?

Number three, which firms are raising debt and venture funds within deck.

And number four, what products were launched over the last quarter? Which concepts are getting funded?

Venture funds struggling to raise fresh funding has less VCs with the lowest level of capital since 2017, which doesn't pay a great outlook for funding in the near future?

his didn't stop capital from flowing across all FinTech concepts in Q2, areas that received the most funding were consumer financing, investment structure, Business Financial Management, payments, b2b and b2c.

To read the rest of this article, please subscribe to the this week in FinTech newsletter, and of course, this podcast!

Helen 40:06
Okay, so for events coming up on the 22nd of July, we have the FinTech, picnic 2023 happening in New York.

We also have the this week in FinTech, Mexico City summer social happening on the 27th of July.

The fourth of August is the this week in FinTech, Seattle bank Happy Hour happening on the third of August, which happens to also be my birthday.

And then on the seventh of August, we also have the TWIF job fair too