The Financial Services Innovators (FSI), a community of fintech enthusiasts passionate about driving innovation in the financial services industry, announced today the launch of the Nigerian Industry Innovation Sandbox, at the sidelines of EFInA’s Financial Inclusion Conference in Lagos. The effort, which is supported by over N250 million naira in multi-year grants from Flourish and EFInA is intended to lower the barriers to innovation within the financial services ecosystem.
“The time to change the narrative of the financial services landscape in Nigeria is here and I am excited to lead this charge at FSI, where we aim to build an inclusive ecosystem of fintech innovators”, said Aituazobe Omoareloje Kola-Oladejo, former head of research and development at the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), who was appointed as the first FSI Executive Director. “I am especially excited for the fintech Industry Innovation Sandbox, which will lower the barriers for early-stage innovators building and scaling global fintech innovation from Nigeria.”
“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”, said Ade Shonubi, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
To participate in the industry innovation sandbox, innovators need to register as members of the Financial Services Innovators at www.fsi.ng and access a sandbox environment where they can build and test fintech products on technical infrastructure from the NIBSS. Before FSI, innovators who needed to access the right technical infrastructure to test the viability of their products were typically required to get a CBN license and spend months in meetings with banks, fintech players, and NIBSS to get pilots off the ground. 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.
“When regulators and startups engage in meaningful dialogue and mutual support, it is possible to balance innovation with stability and consumer protection,” said Ameya Upadhyay, principal at Flourish, a venture of The Omidyar Group. “Through initiatives such as the industry sandbox, FSI will help accelerate the growth of Nigeria’s fintech ecosystem and bring about innovative services that will help improve Nigerians’ financial health.”
FSI was ideated during an innovators breakfast organized by the NIBSS and CBN in 2017 convening representatives from Nigerian fintechs and local tech hubs. The organization is set up as a nonprofit and governed by a board of trustees comprised of representatives from the CBN, the NIBSS, and chaired by an elected member representing the country’s fintech community. The first innovator to join FSI’s Board of Trustees is Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, who cofounded Andela and Flutterwave, one of Nigeria’s fastest growing fintech companies, backed by global investors such as Mastercard, Greycroft, and Y Combinator Continuity Fund, among others.
“Nigeria has a unique opportunity to transform our challenges in the areas of financial health and inclusion into an opportunity to become a global leader in financial services innovation for emerging markets,” said Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, FSI Chair of the Board of Trustees. “This industry sandbox will be the first step on that adventurous path.”
Furthermore, the FSI executive director is advised by an Executive Committee comprised of representative innovators, including Adegbola Abudu, CEO of Capricorn Digital Limited, Mosh Adetoro, CEO of Qrios, Wole Odetayo, CEO of Wennovation Hub, and Wale Obadare, CEO of Digital Encode.
FSI welcomes early-stage and established innovators, creators, and developers in financial services to register to access the industry sandbox by visiting www.fsi.ng/join. For more information on FSI, please email [email protected].