*737* and co is the real mobile money.

In 2009, the CBN launched the mobile money regulatory framework and many of us rejoiced at the opportunities mobile money will create. Quoting Peter Ojo, CEO VTN

Mobile money gives users 25 hours in a day. “Mobile money” is cash converted to electronic form, where it becomes more efficient. Nigerians who used their mobile phone to send a payment could save one hour daily (and also avoid potential theft of cash).

As of December 2011, there are over 17 million subscribers using M-Pesa. If each transaction saved the subscriber one hour per day, productivity would jump by 17 million hours, or 1,863 years! And Nigeria has more than double the number of mobile phones compared to Kenya. What further development could be achieved in Nigeria by having over 2,500 years extra to think?

For what everyone thought was going to be a massive change in the way we pay, send and recieve cash, mobile money refused to take off. While I am no financial expert, I opined that these happened as a result of

  • the insistence of the CBN not to let the telcos champion the cause (not a bad or good thing)
  • the inability of the banks to innovate in a way that meets real needs of consumers
  • using Safaricom’s mPesa as a template in an age where online banking was growing fast
  • lack of seamless distribution networks

I also did argue then with anyone I could pour my heart to that mobile money already existed in some way in Nigeria and what we needed to do was to explore new models that work seamlessly…

  • ability to withdraw from atms without need for a card or bank account .i.e. make the ATM a mobile money agent
  • direct connection to bank accounts or airtime accounts or pseudo airtime accounts.

Innovation however is what it is – its new value created that elevates/leapfrogs the experience of the customer far beyond the incumbent. In the midst of mobile money’s uncertainty, an innovation has emerged and its fast transforming the payments landscape.

Firstly, we started buying credits with *737*amount# or *767*~ and we abandoned the street hawker (I am typing this from Atlanta and I did buy airtime few moments ago using same channel and last week as well from another country).

Account transfers is now about to be disrupted. With GTB leading the pack. Soon other banks would follow suit as they are wont to do.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 11.12.42 AM

What fuelled the rapid adoption for this?

  • seamlessness
  • little or no on-boarding needed to start – just use the phone number connected to your bank account
  • speed and the ability to do it anywhere.

Where do I see this going?

  • Merchant payments will also be disrupted. Soon Jumia/Konga will have a merchant code/bank account number and transaction code that will allow us to do *737*merch_code*trans_code#. You may be able to even click on such a link from a mobile site/app such that you don’t have to type it in. You will be able to pay for cabs, movie tickets and goods via a shortcode or a single click.
  • Phone security will become a big deal, soon everyone will be talking about the risks, then everyone will stop talking about it again.
  • Bank transaction volumes will increase double digits. And all of this will happen outside the internet or branches. Totally mobile.
  • This will also kickstart simpler and more 1-minute account opening methods that will simply allow anyone with a mobile phone to open a bank account (akin to online account opening). Such mobile-first accounts will definitely have their limits (fund limits as well as work for only numbers not attached to any account).

Now if this is not mobile money, what is it ?

Do you think this will go in another direction? Please feel free to share your comments below – I can make use of some new different thinking myself.



Brian Chesky (Founder, AirBnB) on Rocket Internet

Brian Chesky: In mid-2011, we were mostly United States and we had this internet clone funded by these guys called the Samwer brothers, anyone ever hear of them? They basically clone internet companies. They recently went public. They take American websites and clone them and then quickly try to sell them back to you. It’s kind of like putting a gun to your head. So they had done this to Groupon, Groupon was the fastest growing site in the world ever. They stopped doing Groupon and started cloning us, and this is back when we had forty employees, we had raised seven million dollars. They cloned us and in thirty days they hired four hundred people. And they wanted to sell the company and if they couldn’t, they were going to destroy us around the world.

The problem with Airbnb is if we are not everywhere around the world, a travel site not being in Europe is like your phone not having email, it doesn’t actually work. So we were kind of in trouble. We had this conversation, it was a pragmatic decision of should we acquire them and then there was the values decision. The pragmatic one probably said buy them because you can’t risk losing international, so just guarantee you are going to get international. We ended up not buying them. The reason we ended up not buying them was I just didn’t like the culture. I didn’t want to bring in those four hundred people. I felt like we were missionaries and they were mercenaries. I didn’t feel like they were doing it for the beliefs, I thought they were doing it to make a lot of money very quickly.

I believed in a war, missionaries would outlast and endure mercenaries. I also felt like the best revenge against an internet clone was just to make them run the company long term. You had the baby, now you’ve got to raise it. So that’s what we ended up doing and that was a very controversial decision. A lot of people were telling me you should buy this company, we didn’t and I think it worked out

Alfred Lin: What percentage of revenue comes from Europe?

Brian Chesky: More than fifty percent

Petroleum and the ropes that bind Nigeria together

A friend once told me that – what keeps Nigeria together is a common greed – and I believe it having experienced like many of us how money makes mockery of standards, protocol and the law in Nigeria.

In simpler words, pretty much anything can be done with money and you.can get away with almost anything with the right $$$.

If you ever doubted the biblical saying,  Money answereth all things, then you haven’t been to Nigeria.

Where is this money coming from?

I am convinced that Nigeria would have been a more highly developed country without the oil. I wished we’d never smelled the fumes of petroleum. – Wole Soyinka.

The curse of strategic laziness

While I don’t fully agree with Prof on the above – most African countries that have never seen oil have not done any better either – I agree that oil has side-blinded our rulers over the years and they have consistently ignored focusing on developing other industries in Nigeria because of oil revenues.

Any sector you see thriving in Nigeria save for oil & gas, did so largely without government’s strategic driving – IT, entertainment etc

I do not blame them. It’s a strategic laziness problem that we are fighting here. Why bother digging more wells when you’ve got a river that flows behind your house with no effort of yours? Point is, with or without my efforts as a Nigerian citizen, our government gets 83% of her revenues from oil and gas. Compare that to America where 82% of her revenue comes from individual and payroll taxes.

Lesson: you can only make money from tax if everyone has enough to be taxed.

Sidebar: Even our government applies.the 80/20 principle.

Will we get to that point? Yes. But economic empowerment driven by capitalism will be what saves the day and not our government. But we cannot throw away the government, we need to help put the right people there. We will need good regulators, arbiters and of course someone to come to collect fees aka taxes.

Real Leaders Wanted + Open Appeal to Godfathers & Kingmakers

Let us all pray that one day, we will have leaders (at all levels), someone who will make the needed hard decisions that this country needs to get us out of our current state of lawlessness at all levels. I say pray, because Nigeria’s followership is bad as it’s leadership when it comes to prioritizing country above self. So frankly, I won’t put that responsibility in our hands.

It will be a thankless job as that candidate will be unpopular especially among his own people. (he would have deprived them of their opportunity to chop money now that their son is there). However history will not forget that person for he or she will be ranked I dare say higher than Mandela and the whole world will see that leader as that person who elevated Africa for good.

I also hope political godfathers get to read this. I get it, you’re only protecting your interests. However Nigeria will be indebted to you if you back credible people who can actually do the job and protect your interests as value add. And I hope you will have the humility to let them do their job. Please think of tomorrow, dream of a Nigeria as a developed country and think of why you’re the reason it will not happen in your lifetime except you help. The knife and yam are in your hands.

170 million crooks

I have always maintained that the followership of this country is as bad as the leadership if not worse.

Linda Ikeji blogged recently about 2 people prosecuted by the EFCC for money scams and I was shocked at the majority of comments on that post (See below). 18 out of 36 comments condemned EFCC for going after small fish rather than commending them.

So are we saying, small-time thieves should not be punished?

Discussions with a prominent youth activist

Recently I was with a very well known youth activist who confided in me that he wasn’t sure of what he will do different if he became a governor. He worried that even if he wanted to do good, Nigerian politics does not encourage fairness and equality. He would have to deal with family and kinsmen who believe its their own turn to chop through mouth watering contracts and cash gifts unaccounted for in the government’s budget. I haven’t mentioned how tough it is satisfying the electorate who are also interested in food now not later (aka stomach infrastructure).

We act like a people with no common goal, yes the only goal is to advance yourself and yours. I am not laying blames. We didn’t get here in a day. Frustration led us to this point. In Nigeria, you depend on yourself, not the government and as such we’ve learnt to take. And blame our leaders for taking when we’re no different. We’re all in this.

We’re fast becoming a nation of 170 million crooks. Charity begins at home. Small thieves vote and support big thieves and eventually grow into big thieves. This must stop. And we need leaders who can drive this change.

Addendum: Comments on the LindaIkeji post refered to above. All credits given.

  1. The person who gave them the money was stupid. EFCC, like there aren’t bigger fraudsters out there.
  2. They now do police case????Joblesness
  3. As a matter of fact the owner of the money should have been arrested as well. He is not a victim but also a criminal to have agreed to the reproduction of currency.
  4. When the real criminals are stealing billions
  5. Rubbish…change
  6. Wicked people…scamming pple of deir hard earned money
  7. May God punish all those EFCC officials they no dey see all those politicians wey dey carry naija money go another country….
  8. Justice jose!very calm judge.i love her personality. Oh! They’re everywhere,and their victims are mostly greedy people who feels magic can reproduce money.
  9. They should face the full wrath of the law.
  10. Face the law
  11. Really? N125,000. What about the $20billion scam? What about $9.3million?? What about the other $5.7million?? EFCC is a big joke, i swear. God punish dem all.
  12. People never learn. EFCC shld be ashamed of them selves,look our politicians choping our fund but they can’t arrest them.
  13. Compared to the billions of naira our politicians re stealing nd dey never get prosecuted Dia ris God
  14. sowie guysss….no more wash wash….But wat is EFCC doing abt those stealing millions in dollars????
  15. D man duped is d fool. Dis guys shouldn’t go 2 jail. Hw can u believe in wash wash, if u’re not greedy. am choking wit laugh here.
  16. na wa for naija
  17. Please linda, someone scammed me on monday, and up till now their numbers are not going through. Please I need to write to efcc about it, how do I get their email address.
  18. Dis country na mumu country……imagine EFCC dey proud dey talk say dem jail pple for 125k, How many govs or ministers dem don jail for der millions n billions dem dey park on broad day light. *smh*
  19. Good for both of them.
  20. na wa ooooo…cos of jez 125k??????
  21. It’s a great thing that EFCC are doing however, they should also turn their search light and catch bigger fish to fry
  22. Good for them someone tried that nonsense with my dad buh it didnt work. And its ojukokoro that will make you fall victim.
  23. Modupe @ linda it’s 125,000 naira and not 125,000,000.Kindly correct it
  24. do pple still fall 4 dis scam
  25. A person whose house is on fire doesnt chase rat EFCC!!! Jus bcos of 125k,U¯_??° send dem to prison wen pple r stealing millions mtcheeew,nt suppourting dis guys 4 fraud thou bt haba..
  26. Shiooor! All of them na thief
  27. It is now glaring that EFCC has no job at hand. Very soon they will start catching people that steal chocomilo!
  28. Serves them right,ndi ori juru Lagos,dat’s how they duped my younger bros of 140k in d name of supplying gold to him,though his greed made him to fall 2 dat temptation,buh all d same thank these pple were caught n so ll they catch all of them doing such shit.
  29. This is a big embarrassment! We jail people for stealing only 125,000 naira while those who steal millions of dollars are celebrated!
  30. corruption everywhere.
  31. Haba!! Buh na small money na
  32. Are u sure u re in dis planet? wash wash in 2014?
  33. i never knew EFCC handles low profile case of N125,000.00
  34. Errr Justice Jose is a she. Thanks
  35. What if they have squandered the money and are unable to raise the required sum, do they go back to jail?
  36. Mumu pple Very true

Bank Verification Numbers = Social Security Numbers

I have been keeping up with updates on the CBN + banks’ Bank Verification Number project with interest since it was first announced in June. 5 months later, I am more convinced that my initial hunch of the Bank Verification Number becoming Nigeria’s defacto unique Identification number – just like America’s Social Security Number.

What is BVN and what does it mean? BVN (Bank Verification Number) is a unique identity for anyone who has a bank account in Nigeria. It uses biometric information as a means of first identifying and verifying all individuals that have account(s) in any Nigerian bank and consequently, as a means of authenticating customer’s identity at point of transactions.

In lame man’s terms, everyone with a bank account can be traced. CBN and the banks have said a lot about its benefits to customers, but there are more benefits to the private sector and the economy as a whole.

With BVN, fraud will reduce. Jobberman can simply make it compulsory for all employers to submit their BVN before they can post a job – and that’s means total death of scam jobs. Credit Bureaus, Banks and Lenders can collect BVN and monitor account information across different institutions. No more borrowing and defaulting from Bank A with the name Tunde Ojo, then go to Bank B that  to collect another loan with name Oluwatunde Nasiru Ojo.

Bank Verification Number is the Nigerian equivalent to America’s Social Security Number. According the GTBank the deadline is June 2015, so I reckon we can start enjoying the benefits by 2016. I urge all forward looking Nigerians to go get it and encourage others to do so.

Let me whine a little bit

BVN is another example of the private sector coming in to solve problems, politicians have failed to solve. BVN is doing is what NIMC was set up to do. NIMC has been trying to do this since 2007 and we’ve had failed National ID Card projects coupled with scandals and cleaning out.

I am not very informed about the National Identification Number project, but that exactly is the problem. No TV, newspaper ads, SMS, and billboards. In Nigeria, agencies and their contractors would rather create their own distribution channel rather than ride on existing ones. So as to justify the billions of Naira to be taken out of government coffers. I am yet to see the mobile centre buses.

NIN NIMC Mobile Enrolment Van
If you’ve seen these buses in your area, please say in the comments section

The supporting documents being asked are enough to drive one away. I am not predicting doom for the Nigerian Identification Number project. But I am not expecting much from it either till it actually happens. So far, no one gives a hoot and there are no incentives to want to jump the hurdles that stand in the way of getting one. However I hope, NIMC would play on the fact that the National ID Card is also an ATM card and find a way to tie it to pensions or salaries or youth grants. This will help. (I hope someone close to NIMC ogas reads this)

It’s only a matter of time. Power is changing hands – all the government would need do is get better at regulating. Then, politics will no longer be the surest way to riches.



I got this mail today from the folks at FreshDesk.

They messed up, then they made me love them.

Hi Opeyemi

You might have received a very un-personalized personal email about our Christmas discount offers yesterday. We made a “small” typo with the dynamic content placeholders for your name, making the whole email look rather sloppy.

The thing is, this is not a small mistake at all. I hate receiving email that is not personalized to me. I hate sloppy emails even more. I believe that an email with a typo means the writer did not think me important enough to proof his own copy. And so I know yesterday’s typo is totally unacceptable, and I am genuinely sorry. I just hope you understand it was an honest mistake.

In the future, we will hold our enthusiasm a bit longer, and make sure the words we share are as sparkling as the content. However, we also don’t want our words to fill up mailboxes that don’t want them. If you’d rather not receive product updates, discount deals and interesting customer stories from Freshdesk, you can unsubscribe from our emails.

But if you’d like to give us your inputs on how we could tailor better content for you, we’d love to hear your ideas. Just shoot a reply to me, and we’ll be on top of it.

Again, thank you for your time, and I’m really sorry for the typo.

Vikram Bhaskaran
Director of Marketing

Naij.com hack: redirects Google homepage to self

And it’s just not me, I have had these reports from 7 other people. The scenario is simple: you enter google.com in your browser and it redirects you to hobatoba.com which redirects you to naij.com. (Note: if you use https://, it does not occur).

See video of screen capture below.


Some have attributed the occurrence to having visited some shady sites (warez, NSFW, free download things), but I am still wondering why a social network will be utilizing such means to get traffic and members.

Who knows, what data they steal from their members.


There is something like poverty and it’s very real

Yes, you can say duh…

I was able to put it in context today when I realized Bolaji, our month old son could easily take N1500 ($9) worth of food daily – and I thought it cheap and “alrighty” in a country where over 70% live on less than a $1.25 a day and 46% are below our own nationally defined poverty line.

It’s even sad that by Nigeria’s definition, someone living on $1.25 usd is not a poor man.

It was also saddening to learn that in many parts of Nigeria, diapers and menstrual pads are luxuries.

While I am no economist, I am troubled as I get to realize how severe the situation is – and I am determined to see to it that some of Nigeria’s biggest inhibitors to true greatness are solved in my lifetime.

I will not be a spectator in all of these, I will be in deep digging the channels to that golden river.

Quotes on Documentation

Don’t document the program; program the document. — unknown

Ink is better than the best memory. — Chinese proverb

Manuals just slow you down and make you feel stupid. The directions are too slow, too detailed, and use too much abstract, arcane or academic language, like ‘boot up’ instead of turn on the red switch in the back. — Neil Fiore, psychologist and executive coach

Rule 1 of writing software for nontechnical users is this: if they have to read documentation to use it you designed it wrong. — Eric S. Raymond, programmer and advocate of open source software

Documentation is like sex: when it is good, it is very, very good; and when it is bad, it is better than nothing. — Dick Brandon (?)

The best documentation is self-documenting code and an intuitive user interface. — a Bellevue Linux Users Group member, 2005

Voluminous documentation is part of the problem, not part of the solution. — Tom DeMarco, software development consultant

At the very least, write down the why, how and what in one liners. – Opeyemi Awoyemi