1. Tell me a little bit about your background and how you ended up choosing the blockchain technology field.
I grew up in a small city called Jos in Nigeria before obtaining my Bachelor's Degree in Information Engineering from Covenant University. I always wanted to learn about Chinese culture and what made them successful, so when I got the opportunity to, I travelled over to China and obtained my Masters in International Business at Nankai University. It was at this point where I founded my first tech company and subsequently learned about the power of blockchain.
Blockchain as a technology was a no-brainer for me when I discovered it. It was the missing piece to all I had always wanted to work on and was the perfect enabler for my vision of Sustainable Growth and Financial Inclusion for Africa!
2. What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship in fintech?
When they say that most good business ideas come from solving problems they are telling the truth. I had lots of issues in my own startups with making payments and transferring funds. In fact, my greatest challenges then were the things most companies take for granted like paying my suppliers online, receiving payments for goods I sold and remittances.
Talking with many of my peers I discovered so many businesses and customers that were facing similar problems.
I also realized that the cost of serving the unbanked was too high for the banks and traditional financial institutions. But with technology, it was possible to develop a viable and scalable business model.
The problems of funds and untapped customers came together and instead of waiting for someone else to come up with a solution to them, I thought why shouldn’t I solve it? My leap into entrepreneurship was not a passion; it was my purpose.
3. What were the biggest initial hurdles to building Kora and how did you plan to overcome them?
The greatest hurdle for Kora at the moment is regulation. The finance industry is highly regulated and we have to ensure that we operate within the boundaries of regulatory frameworks. Additionally, as a Blockchain company we are constantly fighting against the tendency to be described as a Bitcoin company. This misconception has been the norm for us when we try to deal with people who are less informed. In today’s FOMO environment there are still negative connotations attached to blockchain which has the potential to impact people’s perception of our offer.
At Kora, we are not here to disrupt existing platforms rather we are here to empower and bridge the gap between the legacy systems that already exists and the disruptors seeking a new tomorrow.
4. What are 3 best practices you can share with our readers as it relates to the blockchain industry?
Firstly, seek Understanding- Blockchain is not Bitcoin or cryptocurrency! Readers should seek to understand the underlying technology called Blockchain, that is where the real value is.
Secondly, Be patient with this technology. Blockchain is overestimated on the short-term but underrated on the long-term. Fiat and Banks are not going away soon. The real impact would be 20 years from now or even more.
Lastly, Jump! Jump into this industry if you are an entrepreneur or investor. I believe mankind has never seen such a phenomenon!
5. How do you personally define success? What does it mean to you?
Success to me is being able to positively impact the life of the people around me. I quantify my wealth and success in the number of lives that have changed for the better because of the things I have done. It means a lot to me support people with the spirit of humility.
6. How do you differentiate yourself from others in your field?
In the business world, a lot of leaders tend to care more about the tangible things as opposed to the intangible things which are actually more valuable. Ethics and humanity are the pillars of life I hang on to and with more focus on that than money, I think this helps me to stand out.
7. What was the biggest business mistake you made and what did you do to learn from it?
One mistake optimistic entrepreneurs often make is not paying attention to details. In my first company not paying attention to brand consistency and packaging style lead to a decline in total revenue. Right now, I am at the stage in our business development where I have to pay attention to every single detail no matter how small it may be. Thankfully, I have a wonderful team that also support me.
8. What would you say to someone who came to you for advice about accelerating ‘financial inclusion’ using technology?
I would say make sure you know your stuff! I see lots of people coming up with ideas and it seems the ‘in thing’ in finance is to include the unbanked. This is brilliant as the potential is huge but lots of these ideas do not have financial inclusion at the heart of their idea. My advice to anyone who has this at the core of their business model would be “find a practical application of the Blockchain for it”. Blockchain has introduced new verticals to financial services by eliminating the need of third parties. That has basically been the reason for high overheads in serving users.
9. We are entering an era where everyone is interested in multiple income streams. How will Kora enable this for people?
Kora would not be a source of income for individuals but would be an optimizer of income. We would ensure that it costs you less or nothing to transact financially across borders in the future, giving you more value and capital to do more.
With other value additions on Kora, SME’s will be able to access micro loans, pay micro insurance and access on-demand digital education tools.
10. Name 3 people in the fintech world who inspire you the most?
- Peter Thiel - He built PayPal and is an amazing investor, teacher and his understanding of technology is unparalleled.
- Jack Ma - He has a practical solution for almost every problem.
- Blythe Masters - What Blythe did with JPMorgan is phenomenal, DigitalAsset is one of my favourite Blockchain companies as well.
11. How did you initially meet your co-founder at Kora?
We met in NYC during a Blockchain meetup and hit it off straight away. After the meetup we went for dinner and have been together on this exciting Kora rollercoaster ever since.
12. What 3 books would you recommend every person read?
- Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
13. If you had to pick a charity to give to, who would it be and why?
There is a Motherless Baby’s home in Zawan, Jos Plateau State. My Dad always took us there as kids so we always appreciated what we had. They need a lot for the mission they signed up for and they’d be the charity I help first.
14. How do you think technology will affect the way we do business ten years from now?
Automation! Automation! Automation! This is what’s going to happen in most businesses because of technology making more possible.
15. What is the one mantra you live your life by?
One step at a time.
16. What impacts do you envision Kora having on society within five years?
The success of the Kora Project will be a milestone in the long running quest to alleviate poverty for billions of people and to let everyone share in the wealth created globally. It will also be a landmark use of blockchain technology for social good in order to foster prosperity.
17. How can you be reached if someone is interested in your products or services?
I can best be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org