Kenya: Okapi Now Goes for Bigger Share of African Market

Global financial services company-Okapi Finance is targeting a subscription of 145 million in its long term business plan, as it moves to deepen its financial services in East Africa and the continent at large.

The firm which launched its services in Kenya via its local subsidiary Okapi East Africa in November 2017 has presence in Kenya, Botswana and Nigeria and plans to launch in DR Congo Senegal and Zimbabwe in quarter two of this year.

It has over 350 authorized agents connecting the Pan-African Market and soon the European and Chinese Market.

It plans to launch international remittances from Europe to Africa as well as transactions from Africa to China in the second quarter of this year, Okapi CEO & Founder Gisele Mwepu said.

"This will give African businessmen importing goods from China an efficient way to make payments in real time to Chinese exporters which would eliminate current payment difficulties," Mwepu said.

It currently has more than 130,000 subscribers and aims at reaching the 145 million target in Africa in the next 10 years.

It has partnered with technology savvy company- Eclectics which allows users to access about 30 services going from airtime, TV subscription, water, daily parking, seasonal parking, Sacco services, house rent, land rates, National Hospital Insurance Fund ( NHIF) for individuals in Kenya, among other services where one can pay from the convenience of their homes.

Speaking on the partnership, Eclectics International Group CEO Paul Mbugua said:"The partnership with Okapi goes a long way to reach out to the bottom of the pyramid by enabling them to do cashless transaction across their own ecosystem as well as be able to remit money across between themselves person to person,person to business,business to person."

The company also has partnerships with Ecobank and APA Insurance, which enables customers pay for insurance products and other services through the Okapi Platform.

"We believe that everyone should be able to access financial services regardless of where they live and their status," CEO Mwepu said, "Okapi's mission is to bank the unbanked by providing financial inclusion and a cashless ecosystem."

Gisele Mwepu(OKAPI CEO) poses outside a mobile money services outlet.

Saccos and self help groups can use Okapi Sacco module to digitalize their operations.

"We have signed several agreements with many partners that are currently being implemented. We believe that interoperability is the key to financial inclusion. So, we are open to integrate with other solutions and partners," Mwepu said.

Okapi features include SWAP where customers can send Sh20,000 five times a day for free and SWAP ME that allows customers to request a SWAP from another person for free. SWAP PAY allows customers to pay bills and shop for FREE.

It also offers a Corporate module tailored for companies and organizations where companies can disburse funds, collect payments, salary pay-outs, pay loans for micro-finance as well as create and manage insurance product.

It also has a complete Sacco module with end to end capabilities of savings and loaning angles. Firms can also access real-time reports which facilitates reconciliation.

It is transparent and secure as it is PCIDSS certified, KYC (know your customers) and AML(Anti-Money Laundering) compliant. It reduces cost and time for company and organizations to receive payments with the Corporate Module.

Interoperability allows transfer of funds between Okapi and visa, visa and Okapi, visa to visa, Mpesa and Okapi and Okapi and Mpesa.

The firm says it is eying the continental free trade pact where it plans to widen its cross border remittances.

The biggest challenge, however, has been launching the solution in several African countries and the lack of having a common market approach as EU for Europeans countries, the management said.

"For example our license in Sweden gives access to operate in the whole EU/EES market. The challenge for us in Africa is to have to repeat the same setup process in every country," Mwepu explained.

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