Meet the Tanzania genius pioneering offline digital app payments

27Aug 2018
Frank Monyo
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Meet the Tanzania genius pioneering offline digital app payments
  • Tanzanian, Benjamin Fernandes founded NALA, a digital financial services mobile application that works faster, simpler, safer and easier than traditional USSD methods of transacting in Tanzania..

Tanzanian financial technology (fintech) company, NALA, founded by Benjamin Fernandes has been pioneering offline digital application payments in Africa starting in Tanzania.

Benjamin Fernandes speaking at the FSDT Finscope launch event in Zanzibar last week.

NALA is a simplified mobile money application that allows you to make faster, smarter and safer transactions without an internet connection.

Fernandes came up with building NALA after understanding the difficulty of using USSD protocols when he interviewed over 700 people across various income levels in Tanzania. At its core, NALA aims to become an enabler in deepening financial inclusion by simplifying the payments process for consumers.

According to the FSDT Finscope study, only 50% of Tanzanians understand their financial spending history. With NALA transaction history tool, consumers have better insight how they are spending their finances across multiple accounts.

Last week, Fernandes shared at the FSDT Finscope launch in Zanzibar about he hopes to support the enablement of other financial services products in line with the goals of the National Financial Inclusion Framework (NFIF) laid out by the Bank of Tanzania.

The NFIF states it’s priority area is shifting emphasis to usage and some of the key drivers for usage include convenience of solutions, affordability of solutions and appropriateness of solutions.

“When you buy a laptop, you get given Internet Explorer, however, you choose to use Google Chrome because it’s faster, easier and simpler.

Likewise with mobile money, you have USSD, we give you NALA, the Google Chrome for digital transactions that works offline” Fernandes mentioned at the FSDT launch event.

Fernandes previously worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation information technology and financial services for the poor teams.

Fernandes holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an Exec. Ed from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

On August 16th at the launch of FinSights Lab by FSDT, the governor of the Central Bank, Prof. Florens Luoga mentioned how the Bank of Tanzania will be supporting local fintech startups and the importance of Tanzania leading in financial services innovation.

This week, Fernandes and NALA will compete in Togo for the EcoBank Fintech Challenge. NALA is the first Tanzanian company to ever be selected for this competition. NALA was chosen out of hundreds of FinTech companies in Africa to participate as one of the eleven finalists in the competition. Then winner of the competition will receive $10,000.

According to the recent FinTrek 2018 study, 99% of fintech funding in East Africa goes to Kenyan fintech companies. Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania share the balance 1%.

There are only two fintech startups in Tanzania that have attracted large financial services foreign investment to Tanzania this year. Jamii Africa, an insurance fintech company founded by Lilian Makoi and NALA by Benjamin Fernandes.