Our reporter spoke to a member of their senior team about their expansion into Europe, amongst other things

Moniepoint at Money20/20

Moniepoint has recently been crowned the fastest growing fintech in Africa for the second year in a row. 

A banking giant on the continent, Robert Welbourn sat down with Daniel Saliba, chief risk and compliance officer to discuss their expansion across Africa, into Europe, and what the bank is doing to support the underbanked population.

Money20/20 interviews: Monica Eaton of Chargebacks911 and Robert Kraal of Silverflow.

Thanks so much for speaking to me! Please can you give me a quick introduction. 

I’m a Compliance expert and a leader specialising in the UK and European payments regulatory landscape. I’ve been in payments for over a decade working in issuing, licensing, crypto, and lending. Prior to my role with Moniepoint GB, I was a director and chief risk and compliance officer and money laundering reporting officer (MLRO) for a number of EMI firms, including Optimus Cards Ltd, Ixaris Technologies (Part of the Nium), Wex Europe. 

Moniepoint has recently been announced as the fastest growing fintech in Africa for the second year in a row. That must be something you’re proud of. 

Absolutely. I’m really proud of the amazing work the Moniepoint team has been doing over the years to get us where we are and to achieve such a recognition. 

As a compliance person, what I really like about Moniepoint is the emphasis the business has on being compliant while balancing customers’ requirements and ensuring a smooth customer journey. We build our product with customers’ needs in mind; being compliant helps gain our customers’ faith in our company and this faith and trust from both customers and regulators is what allows our business to grow so quickly. 

To scale at the level you have been scaling is never easy, particularly from a compliance point of view; you must be under an avalanche at times. 

This is true. Making sure that a firm is compliant with the ever-evolving laws and regulations is never an easy task, especially when a firm operates in different jurisdictions with different regulations and laws, which brings its own complexities and challenges when aligning business’ processes and building a multi jurisdiction customer journey. However, in my opinion, when building such a product, the key to delivering a smooth customer journey is a combination between an in-depth understanding of regulations, the risk associated with the product, understanding your customers and target market, along with having a strong technology platform.   

There is an idea that the more compliance there is, the more friction you’ll have in the customer’s journey. However, what we believe at Moniepoint is that laws and regulations are there to protect our customer, our firm and the financial system.  

Once you get the foundation right, everything just flows from that.  

Exactly. Over the years, Moniepoint has successfully demonstrated that, supported by the right vision, knowledge and expertise, a business can build a great product with a smooth customer journey while remaining compliant.

One of the things you try to do is to democratise payment acceptance. Can you talk a bit more about that please.  

A challenge, especially for those from emerging markets, is getting the relevant financial tools to make payments – whether that’s to counterparties or to friends and family in other countries.  

At Moniepoint utilise our knowledge, both within the business and the African market, to make sure that we facilitate payments as quickly as possible at a very low cost.  

In the west, and particularly in Europe, some companies do offer African currency wallets. However, in many cases, the volatility of some African currencies, and sometimes the lack of understanding the African market, makes it harder for businesses to offer African currency wallets. Moniepoint’s advantage in the market is its expertise, its deep understanding of the African market and the risk associated with such payments.  

Tell me more about how Moniepoint is supporting unbanked and underbanked people.  

Financial inclusion is high on our list. We try to help small businesses as much as possible; when you’re a small business and from an emerging market, your challenge has doubled. This is where our expertise again comes into play.  

We’ve been in Africa for many years, we’ve built a lot of knowledge about the market requirements and how to help small businesses. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses miss out on opportunities both to help the underbanked but also to profit from providing their services. Whether it’s risk or from a profit perspective, it’s really important that we do both things: we offer services and products to the underbanked while we make sure that we continue to be profitable.  

By doing both, we can improve our product. Then we can offer the customer what they want in the future as we grow, and help them to grow as well.  

You’re based in Nigeria, and looking to expand into Kenya, as well as Europe. How’s that going?  

It’s going great. We’re working with the regulators across different jurisdictions to make sure that we have the relevant licences. We’ve had really great meetings with regulators; we positioned our product to the regulators and we emphasised our eagerness to make sure that we are supporting African societies both within Africa but also in Europe and globally, the diaspora.  

You have a lot of immigrants from Africa in Europe; when you arrive in Europe it’s difficult to find your way around. We’re bringing the familiarity of Moniepoint to those people and helping them as they set up in a new country.  

In the UK and a lot of Western Europe, you can’t really do anything without a bank account. But as well as this, it’s Moniepoint, it’s a company they know and they recognise. From a cultural point of view that must be reassuring as well.

It is indeed! With Moniepoint point of sale terminals in Africa, our coverage is approximately over 60%, so I like to say 6 out of 10.  

So not insignificant then.  

Yes, it’s not insignificant. You’re far away from home, and you don’t know if you can trust a business with your money. Then you see that logo and you’re reassured. What we’re trying to offer here is something that will make the African diaspora experience abroad easier as well.  

Moniepoint started as a company working with merchants, but then in 2023 you started working directly with consumers as well.  

It was very interesting because we initially didn’t go for consumers because, if you don’t sort out the supply side, it’s like trying to get a taxi, right? If there’s no driver, having all of the consumers in the world is no good.  

A lot of companies are trying to solve financial inclusion from the consumer standpoint, which is great. But even if everyone has a bank card, but companies refuse to accept them, then no digital payment can take place. People still have to take out cash. So we needed to solve the other side.  

There’s also a reputation problem. It’s no good if everything on our end works fine, but there’s a failure from another bank. People could think it’s a Moniepoint failure, and that damages us. In order to take control of this problem of reliability, we realised we needed to take control of the entire end-to-end process.  

At Moniepoint we don’t like to do things until we’re able to deliver something unique in the market, and we have the strength, knowledge, and experience. So moving into the consumer sphere is only a natural progression because we’ve established our product with SMEs and national sites, and we know it works. We know from our experience what the consumers need, what they want, so we’re able to deliver a product that will be very competitive. 

Image: Moniepoint

Robert Welbourn
Robert Welbourn is an experienced financial writer. He has worked for a number of high street banks and trading platforms. He's also a published author and freelance writer and editor.