FinTech - Nomanini CEO Vahid Monadjem chats about its prepaid vending machine


Financial technology companies are all about disruption, but it’s very rare to find a company that can make a payment solution specifically targeted for the informal market. Nomanini is a small FinTech company whose product is specifically designed for “the rigours of the informal market, where electricity is not always available” says Chief Executive Officer Vahid Monadjem.

As a small start-up with 15 employees and an end of year target of reaching 10,000 new terminals, the company offers its customers a simple point-of-sale terminal which is able to sell airtime, electricity, insurance processes and other cash based transactions. The aim is to reduce the total cost for providing electronic transactions.

Monadjem grew up in Swaziland but ended up working in the US before deciding to come back to the continent. "If I were to describe South Africa I would say it's a country with two economies in one, with very high walls between the two," says the former Mckinsey employee

Monadjem says that before he and his team went to market they spent a lot of time listening to people, finding out what they lacked from their existing service providers and how best they could exploit the opportunities in a market many seemed not to understand. "We spent a lot of time working on the proof of concept with Taxi drivers in Soweto. What I always say is that in this market there is a danger that comes when you believe you've figured it out, and are now the authority. You can just never stop listening".

Whether you're a mobile operator looking for a terminal, a mobile airtime distributor with the need to distribute airtime or an electricity provider needing fast, simple points of sale for prepaid electricity, or a micro-loan insurance company needing to collect and receive cash payments, Nomanini promises to have the solution for you.

Operating in the informal market comes with its own challenges. One such challenge is finding credible, rich, and reliable data. "Data is hard to come by," says Monadjem. But it's also about the amount of time and money spent on signage, training and relationship management that we as a company has to focus on, if we're to achieve our goal of reducing the total cost of providing electronic transactions.

So where to for the future of the industry? "I think that we're going to see a lot of consolidation in the electronic payment landscape". And what about the companies, which you should look out for in the future? Apart from Nomanini, Monadjem says it would have to be First Access, a company founded by microfinance veterans aimed bringing more reliable information to financial service providers in informal markets.

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