The Financial Services Innovators (FSI) – a community of fintech enthusiasts passionate about driving innovation in the financial services industry recently launched the Nigerian Industry Innovation Sandbox at the sidelines of EFInA’s Financial Inclusion Conference in Lagos.
This effort which is supported by over N250 million naira in multi-year grant funding from Flourish and EfINA, is intended to lower the barriers to innovation within the financial services ecosystem. With this industry innovation sandbox, any innovators can register as a member of the Financial Services Innovators at www.fsi.ng and access a sandbox environment where they can build and test fintech product ideas on technical infrastructure from NIBSS.
Before now, innovators who needed to access the right technical infrastructure for testing the viability of their products needed to have several months of meetings with banks, Fintech players and NIBSS who would typically require a license from the CBN.
With the new industry innovation sandbox, registered members of the FSI can leverage the APIs to build a solution within the Sandbox environment before seeking regulatory approval from the CBN or partnering with an existing financial services provider licensed by the CBN to take their product to launch.
Furthermore, the FSI also announced the formal appointment of Mrs. Aituazobe Omoareloje Kola-Oladejo as its pioneer Executive Director.
Mrs Kola-Oladejo joins the FSI from NIBSS where she served as the pioneer head of NIBSS institutional research and development department. In that role she led NIBSS innovation management, training and strategy for four years during which she helped support an inclusive ecosystem of developers, startup entrepreneurs and established fintech industry players to deliver a rich portfolio of innovative technology applications and services on NIBSS infrastructure. Prior to joining NIBSS, she had an illustrious decade long career in banking where she served as a banker at United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Citizens International Bank (CIB).
The Executive Director is advised by an Executive Committee comprised of representative innovators such as Mr Adegbola Abudu, CEO of Capricorn Digital Limited, Mr Mosh Adetoro, CEO of Qrios, Mr Wole Odetayo, CEO of Wennovation Hub and Mr Wale Obadare, CEO of Digital Encode.
The FSI was the brainchild of a 2017 innovators breakfast forum organized for Nigerian Fintechs and innovation hubs by NIBSS and the CBN at the Virgin Rose Hotel in VI. It is governed by a formally constituted board of trustees which includes a trustee representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a trustee representative from Nigerian Interbank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS) and an elected chair who represents the local innovator community. The current chair of the FSI Board of Trustees is Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, former CEO and co-founder of Flutterwave, one of Nigeria’s fastest growing fintech companies backed by global investors like Mastercard, Greycroft and Y Combinator Continuity Fund amongst others.
“The time to change the narrative of the Financial Services landscape in Nigeria is here and I am excited to be leading this charge at FSI where we hope to build an inclusive ecosystem of fintech innovators,” said Mrs Kola-Oladejo. “I am especially excited for the Fintech Industry Innovation Sandbox which will lower the barriers for young innovators building and scaling global fintech innovation from Nigeria.”
“I believe Nigeria has a unique opportunity to transform our challenges in the areas of financial inclusion and access into an opportunity to become a global leader in financial services innovation for emerging markets,” said IyinoluwaAboyeji, Co-founder of Flutterwave and Chair of the board of trustees, FSI. “This industry sandbox will be the first of many steps on that adventurous path,”
The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Ade Shonubi, while also commenting on the development said, “like people, countries must evolve. We must create an environment which enables our people, young and old, as well as the country take control of our tech future.”
FSI welcomes budding and established innovators, creators and developers to register to access the innovation sandbox by visiting www.fsi.ng/join.