The buzz about fintech in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, is so loud that even those without access to the internet cannot miss it. Flashing billboards advertising Kuda, a digital bank, loom over traffic jams, and signs for Paga, a mobile-payments company, adorn thousands of corner shops. Investment has been flowing in, too. In March Flutterwave, a digital-payments firm, raised $170m, making it Africa’s latest unicorn (ie, a startup valued at more than $1bn).
Savvy fintechs try to escape the bind by looking beyond Nigeria. “The goal is, as quickly as possible, to diversify,” says Nichole Yembra of Chrysalis Capital, a Lagos-based tech investor. Many founders like Lagos for its energetic workforce but also see it as a gateway to Africa.