LSETF, Visa drive cash-less scheme, offers N3.5m in grants

Akintunde Oyebode

In efforts to drive cash-less project and boost ease of doing business for Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in partnership with Visa, has created payment solutions, during the “Cash-less Lagos Hackathon.”

The solutions came after a three-day hacking boot, hosted at the Vibranium Valley, where young tech experts were selected and expected to leverage on existing financial technologies to assist MSMEs regardless of their literacy level, to adopt the initiative.

The Cash-less Lagos Hackathon, according to the organisers, was to improve business efficiency, boost financial inclusion, and reduce theft to the barest minimum, by proffering solutions that make payment easy.

The hackathon also hosted an array of Nigerian software developers, programmers, coders, data specialists and designers, who developed technology-based financial solutions to allow MSMEs make and receive payments, make bulk purchases and keep transaction inventory.

The winners of the Hackathon- Team Blended, Maverick and LagosPay, were selected based on impact, design, innovation, user-interface and customer validation and got the grand prize of N2,000,000, N1,000,000 and N500,000 respectively.

The Executive Secretary, LSETF, Akintunde Oyebode, said Hackathon was designed to solve problems around cash management in Lagos, adding that it was aimed at how to use technology to improve small businesses.

“I am pleased with the winning teams and the possibility of using these solutions to solve payment issues experienced by small businesses. If we are able to help businesses optimise payments and grow, it will not only improve the state’s economy, but also create new jobs.

“This hackathon further demonstrates how partnerships between government and socially responsible companies can spur development and create double or triple bottom line impact.”

The General Manager, Visa West Africa, Kemi Okusanya, expressed Visa’s deep commitment in ensuring that merchants have access to innovative technologies to make and receive payments.

She added that the company is keen on facilitating financial inclusion goals in Nigeria, thereby reducing reliance on cash.

She said: “We constantly strive to reduce reliance on cash, and encourage the development of a digital payments ecosystem for both individuals and businesses. I am very impressed with the quality of solutions developed by these teams and look forward to seeing them adopted by businesses across Nigeria.”

Leader for Team Blended, Olawale Olarenwaju said the solution to going cashless is by having a mobile Point of Sales (POS). “Our solution is a handy PoS in a mobile device such that once you input your card details it works like the normal PoS. Our integration will be powered by Visa because it is big card switching companies that allow us authenticate other cards through Visa,” he said.

Olarenwaju added that cards transaction still has huge amount of success if we push the boundaries further.
“The solution works with an OTP authentication for security purpose.

If the user’s phone number is not registered, it cannot get an OTP to validate the transaction. We believe that we will be able to get into the market and enable MSME to make seamless payment,” he noted.

Team Blended won with its solution that allows merchants get validation of transactions via USSD with mobile phone numbers as User pass and authentication; Team Maverick took the second position with a mobile-based solution that allows merchant pay in advance for services, schedule appointments, while also helping them keep track of their payment inventories, while the third prizewinner, LagosPay developed a solution that collects payments electronically, by leveraging already existing payment channels, and incentivizing payments with rewards and points.
He added that the competing teams were able to identify pressing needs and created solutions relating to receiving payment and going cashless.

“The prices they won will be used to build the actual solution. What you see here is the prototype solution and we hope to take it to the market in the next six months. We also have banks interested in how they support the roll out of the solution for their customers bringing the ecosystem together,” he said.

Speaking on the partnership with Visa, Oyebode said it is ETF core value to attract trusted partners to deliver right solutions for SMES, and added that the hackathon will be a continuous program.

“This is the second program we launched this year. We look forward to doing more and partner with relevant institutions. We are funding tech startups and issued work space stations to 50 startups already and to 25 more before the end of this month. In total, we are talking about 80 million in work space vouchers. A funding allowance of 200 million naira is available and this is the first set of funding going to the tech ecosystem,” he added.

Source: G Business