BY VICTOR ADAR
When Fejiro Hanu Agbodje was conned in 2014 by a random guy he met through a blogging site, he took that experience as a lesson.
It was after one of his highflying uncles offered him an iTune gift card, but little did he know what to do with it. After all, one ought to own an iPhone to get the value of the card. He could not even find someone to buy it until he tried his fortune online, and lost it all in the process.
To solve the market place challenges he went through, Mr Hanu launched Patricia Technologies, an e-commerce platform that mainly trades iTunes, Amazon and Google Play gift cards. The fintech firm also provides alternative payment solutions, and is all of a technical trading process whereby customers can check out with cryptocurrency of their choice including Bitcoin and Perfect Money.
“That happened and it hit me that there would be a lot of people who would not have a platform to trade and they will be scammed,” he told Nairobi Business Monthly in an interview at a Nairobi hotel. “Today we have about 450,000 Nigerians signed up and about 40,000 active online users every single day and we make life easier for them. We understand that people know what digital coins is but do not know how to start it.”
Over the years, most companies have joined the digital currency space. In March 2021, Paypal rolled out a feature that allows users to make payments through cryptocurrency, an indication that alternative payment options are in high demand. The Kenyan fintech space is also quite vibrant.
Two local players in the digital scene include TheBhub, a tech company that trains developers on not only blockchain systems, but also offer SME innovation programs, and Bangla-Pesa, which is a digital currency for exchanging goods and services. Innovations focused on mobile money such as Safaricom’s m-Pesa, lending platforms, treasury bonds purchase through m-Akiba, and crowd funding (m-Changa), are other practical examples.
Come to think of it, you might soon see big boys, especially those in the telco space, introducing Crypto as one of the ways to, say, buy airtime. Big lenders too might start driving the adoption of digital products.
“If you look at America which is like a leader we have banks like JP Morgan currently offering insurance for digital currency. It is just a matter of time that the same thing that email did to post office is the same thing the digital money will do to the banks,” he says.
Mr Hanu who cut his teeth as a Mathematician and Statistician at University of Portharcourt faced myriad challenges during early stages of the enterprise. At this point, though, his progress supersedes him so much that the conversation has changed for the better. Besides Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and now Kenya, the company has spread its operations to Asia, United Kingdom and America.
“We are trying to set up here in Nairobi and I want to tell you that everything is possible. Patricia was a company with only two people so I am a living example that every dream is possible. You have to be resilient and show up everyday, keep your head up and do the most. I now have a tough skin,” he says.
What makes Hanu to be one smart entrepreneur is the fact that he is quite intentional with his business moves. But policy seems to be the elephant in the room. To him, a government should support businesses, digital or not, by coming up with favourable policies to attract investors while ensuring that there is growth and innovation.
Currently, most government regulators are against virtual wallets. With laws and regulations seemingly slowing down the digital currencies wave especially in Kenya, question on many peoples’ lips is whether there are advantages of switching to Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
“I think it has already began to pay off in many parts of the world… We have grown from a company of two persons to about 300 people. We are in over two continents and in six countries so we are way up. “At the end of the day everybody is our target audience… as long as you are spending money,” he says, adding that generation z and the millenials are his major target group.