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Mitchell Elegbe: Celebrating A Visionary Who Transformed E-payments In Nigeria



Mitchell Elegbe: Celebrating A Visionary Who Transformed E-payments In Nigeria, SiliconNigeria

“Give me my tally number” – This would sound weird to millennials and young adults as the days of ‘tally numbers’ are long gone.

Well, “who is the last person on the queue?” or “your machine has ‘swallowed’ my card”, may sound more familiar as people try to perform electronic payments using Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in the country.

Well, e-payments in Nigeria has arguably taken an innovative turn since one man, Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Group CEO of Interswitch, took it on himself to champion the vision and a series of strategic interventions over almost 2 decades towards transforming and revolutionizing electronic transactions as we’ve come to know it today.

Interswitch is an Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company that facilitates the electronic circulation of money as well as the exchange of value between individuals and organisations on a timely and consistent basis.

The company envisioned and midwifed by Mitchell, along with a team of young, like-minded pioneers started operations in Nigeria in 2002 as a transaction switching and electronic payments processing company that builds and manages payment infrastructure as well as deliver innovative payment products and transactional services throughout the African continent.

Interswitch Limited, now a pan-African company, provides technology integration, advisory support, transaction processing and payment infrastructure services to governments, banks and corporate organisations and high-net individuals.

Mitch, as he is fondly called, is an Electrical/Electronic Engineering graduate from the University of Benin in Nigeria.

He is an alumnus of the IESE/Wharton/CEIBS Global CEO Programme and he is a Bishop Desmond Tutu fellow of the African Leadership Institute. He had worked as the Group Head for Business Development at Telnet, a fast-growing telecommunications company, and was a Wireline Engineer at Schlumberger.

As a student, Mitch struggled to make ends meet by making a business out of dubbing cassettes he borrowed from friends but an encounter with an ATM seizing his card in Scotland inspired the idea for Interswitch.

One of his ideas as a young engineer working at the telecom firm, Telnet, at the time—modernizing Nigeria’s payment system—grew into Interswitch, which makes life easier for Nigerians of all economic backgrounds to make financial transactions, mostly, cashless.

When he envisioned Interswitch at the turn of the century, the cash that dominated Nigeria’s economy had become worrisome. An example: With banks closing on Friday afternoons, Nigerians withdrew cash to last the entire weekend. This led to crime (robberies) or getting exhausted if more expenses are encountered.

Developing electronic payment in Nigeria required overcoming a strong cultural bias toward cash as Nigerians use cash as a solution to almost any situation including giving cash as gifts at weddings, at burials, at childbirth, and other occasions.

Smartly, Mitchell decided that the best approach is not to eliminate cash but to preach a message that there is a more efficient way to use it.

He also had to overcome skepticism captured in questions such as: ‘How do you run a 24/7 business in a country where power is not constant? In a country where telecom is still very unreliable? When the people you target are predominantly in love with their cash? How do you get the human resources needed for an entirely new area like electronic payment?’ etc.

Mitch knew that electronic payment could be appealing to banks as well as the Nigerian people because transactions are a significant source of banking revenues. He partnered with Accenture to develop a business case and a business plan.

The plan avoided the ‘one-man business’ syndrome but gave ownership to institutions that were needed from a corporate governance point of view to assist in growing the business. Banks owned about 85 per cent of the company, with one or two IT companies to ensure that proper corporate governance was followed.

This close partnership with key players in finance and IT helped Interswitch stay ahead of the competition and to avoid some of the pitfalls of sole ownership.

Even though the company was built on his idea, he began life at Interswitch as an employee with no shareholding. His priority was not ownership of the company, but rather to see out the execution of what he believed was a brilliant idea.

His stellar leadership of the company eventually earned him and his team stakes in the enterprise. With the benefit of hindsight, he is convinced that his decision to forgo ownership of the company at inception was correct and had a significant impact on the company’s stable growth in its early days.

In 2004, Interswitch won a gold medal for innovation at the Computerworld Honors, an international award program which recognizes individuals and organizations whose achievements in ICT have impacted society. Before receiving the award, the company had seven local banks on its network.

Thereafter, the number increased to 13, and the first set of non-banks, including an ATM consortium and Globacom, a mobile telecommunications provider, were added. Today, the company has almost all Nigerian banks and 11,000 ATMs on its network.

Eight years after it was set up, Interswitch’s shareholders decided to tweak the ownership model of the company. With the company valued at over $170 million, a private equity deal was structured and two-thirds of the company was sold to a consortium.

The equity injection bolstered Interswitch’s balance sheet and paved the way for it to begin realizing its ambition for the continent, which was soon reflected by its acquisition of Bankom, Uganda’s leading transaction switching company.

From 2014 to 2019, Nigeria’s fintech scene took in more than $600m in funding, according to a report by McKinsey, the consultancy. In the past three years, fintech investments in Nigeria almost tripled, while in 2019, Nigerian fintech took in one-quarter of all funding raised by African start-ups, the report said, Interswitch was not left out.

As a leader, Mitch fosters creativity at Interswitch and encourages employees to air their views and to pursue ideas and passions not directly tied to their job description. The company also sponsors a “Hackathon” in which its engineers work on a project for 72 hours and showcase to a panel of judges.

Interswitch has a division dedicated to training their staff, as well as third party individuals in their business operations as Mitch believes that by investing in an employee’s professional development, you are showing them that they can build a future in the company.

Interswitch also has profit-sharing policies that are tied to performance and rewards hardworking employees, allowing them to achieve additional earnings if given targets are met.

In recognition of his stellar attributes and his success with Interswitch, Mitch has won several awards including the CNBC/Forbes All African Business Leader (AABLA) for West Africa and Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award among others.

He was named a winner in the African Banker Awards 2019 as the African Banker Icon. He was awarded the Transformational Business Award by the African Leadership Network at the 2013 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship. The award is in recognition of a notable business leader who has created a significant socio-economic impact in Africa by building a business with revenues greater than US$50m.

Undone, Interswitch also wants to expand and introduce the use of electronic payment into sectors like transportation and health services as he believes Fintech is yet to tap into a tenth of what is happening as far as electronic payments are concerned.

Currently, Nigeria’s economy is dominated by the informal sector and the Nigerian government, which is now promoting a cashless economy, estimates that the direct cost of handling, processing, and managing cash exceeds $1.2 billion as at 2012.

Seeing that banks are a major source of funds used for the country’s development, Interswitch also contributes to the country’s development by working with microfinance banks as all of Nigeria’s microfinance banks are now part of the Interswitch network.

Today, Interswitch is demonstrating how electronic payment can work in Nigeria. In time past, you had to travel to a physical bank branch or office and wait in the queue to obtain money or deposit money or pay a bill.

Now, you can do these things, and more, from whatever location, at your comfort, instantly by cell phone, at an ATM, or through a wide network of merchants. You not only reap the benefits in security but also in productivity and time.

Having seized the opportunity to make a difference within the African business space, using technology and human capital development as a springboard, which is what fueled the vision that has become ‘Interswitch’ today, he strongly believes that leadership creates opportunities not only to articulate a vision for a generation but also to shape what tomorrow will be.

However, Mitchell has somewhat become disenchanted with successive years of policy failure across sectors of governance and policy in Nigeria (and Africa) that hold the greatest propensity to drive socio-economic impact if executed right; although he currently sits within the private sector, he however sees an impending evolution of his roles and responsibilities over the next few years, moving into the forefront of championing public-private sector-driven initiatives, evolving into key policy/advisory/consulting roles supporting government, whilst not ruling out the possibility of getting actively involved in the mainstream of public sector leadership at some point in the future.

If Mitchell made us love the new face of payment in Nigeria, little wonder what he will bring into public sector leadership.

Guess we can only watch out for this man!!!

Kudos Mitch!!

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CBBL Elevates Biyi Fashoyin To Deputy Managing Director.



CBBL Elevates Biyi Fashoyin To Deputy Managing Director., SiliconNigeria

Foremost ICT company, Chips, Bits and Bytes has announced the elevation of its former chief marketing officer, Adebiyi Fashoyin to the position of deputy managing director.
The 35 year old company made the statement in a letter communicated and signed by the MD/CEO, Tunji Ola.

The company expressed satisfaction to Mr Fashoyin’s commitment and result oriented services he has brought in within  five years as chief marketing officer.According to Tunji Ola, Fashoyin will no doubt help to reposition the company,as numero uno in virtual learning and alternative power solutions provider.

Biyi Fashoyin, a graduate of English and Literary Studies of Ekiti State University,Ado-Ekiti is a veteran broadcast journalist and former president of the Joint Action Committee on ICT Awareness and Development.He was group chief marketing officer,Omatek Computers Plc and formerly general manager, Mobile Knowledge Solutions,Lagos.Biyi is happily married with Children. A member of Nigerian Internet Registration Association, Nigeria Internet Group and many others, he loves wrestling and football

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Dr. Obadare, Co-founder of Digital Encode, Joins Forbes Technology Council



Dr. Obadare Co-founder of Digital Encode Joins Forbes Technology Council, SiliconNigeria

Dr. Obadare Peter Adewale, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Digital Encode Limited, who is arguably the most credentialed and Multi-Award winning cybersecurity professional in Africa has been accepted into Forbes Technology Council, an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs, and technology executives.

Dr. Obadare Peter Adewale was vetted and selected by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of his experience. Criteria for acceptance include a track record of successfully impacting business growth metrics, as well as personal and professional achievements and honors.

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Obadare into the community,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Technology Council. “Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”

As an accepted member of the Council, Dr. Obadare has access to a variety of exclusive opportunities designed to help him reach peak professional influence.

He will connect and collaborate with other respected local leaders in a private forum. Dr. Obadare will also be invited to work with a professional editorial team to share his expert insights in original business articles on, and to contribute to published Q&A panels alongside other experts.

Finally, Dr. Obadare will benefit from exclusive access to vetted business service partners, membership-branded marketing collateral, and the high-touch support of the Forbes Councils member concierge team.

“I am exhilarated to be accepted into Forbes Technology Council,” said Dr. Obadare. It is another confirmation of the Digital Encode’s depth of experience and insights to attain the global vision of being the number one Information Technology Assurance Professional Service firm in Africa,” he concluded.


Dr. Obadare Peter Adewale is arguably the most “Credentialed” and Multi-Award winning Pan- African Cybersecurity & GRC Thought Leader, He is a Fellow British Computer Society (FBCS), Fellow Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC), Fellow Institute of Information Management (FIIM), Fellow Enterprise Security Risk Management (FESRM), Fellow Institute of Brand Management (FIBM), Chartered Information Technology Professional (CITP), The First PECB Certified Data Protection Officer (CDPO) in Nigeria, The First Ec-Council Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) in Africa, First Ec-Council Certified Blockchain in Africa, and Second COBIT 5 Certified Assessor in Africa Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Qualified Security Assessor (PCI DSS QSA).

He is a seasoned cybersecurity Expert and GRC Technopreneur with over 50 (Fifty) international professional certifications to his credit and was awarded Honorary Doctorate Degree in Cybersecurity from Trinity International University of Ambassadors Atlanta Georgia, United State of America.

What you should know about Forbes Council

Forbes Councils is a collective of invitation-only communities created in partnership with Forbes and the expert community builders who founded Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).

In Forbes Councils, exceptional business owners and leaders come together with the people and resources that can help them thrive.

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Nigeria @60: John Awe inducted into ICT Hall of Fame



Nigeria @60: John Awe inducted into ICT Hall of Fame, SiliconNigeria

Public Relations professional, John Awe, has been inducted into the ICT Hall of Fame at an award ceremony for ICT icons organised recently by Titans of Tech, an initiative of TechTv Network, in collaboration with

A total of 60 ICT industry players, including former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), now MTN Nigeria Chairman, Eng. Ernest Ndukwe, were honoured at a ceremony held at the highbrow Virgin Rose Resort, Victoria Island, Lagos recently.

The 60 individuals have played various roles in stimulating growth in the Information and Communications Technology sector of the country especially in the last 20 years during which the sector has experienced unprecedented growth following the award of GSM licences to telecom operators by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

John Awe numbered among Nigeria’s pioneer ICT reporters whose robust understanding of the then just emerging sector, and their reportage of it set them apart in an era when ICT reporting was in its infancy.

Awe was the pioneer communications editor and anchor of the weekly ICT special publication of Nigeria’s oldest national newspaper, Nigerian Tribune, for many years before he left active reporting in 2006 for Public Relations, where he has continued to play a role in the ICT sector.

Others inducted into the Nigeria @60 ICT Hall of Fame were Current EVC of NCC Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, President of ALTON, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Engr. Olawale Ige, Engr. Vincent Maduka, HRH Eze (Engr.) Ogbonna Cletus Iromantu, Engr. Titi Omo-Ettu, Chief Chris Uwaje, Tim Akano, Dr. Yele Okeremi, Collins Onuegbu, Abiodun Omoniyi, Lare Ayoola of Tranter IT group, Stanley Jegede, Globacom Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr., Google Country Head, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, Nkemdilim Begho, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh of Zinox Technologies, Chief Chima Onyekwere, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Muhammed Rudman of IXPN, Emmanuel Amos of Programos, Olusola Teniola of ATCON, Prof. Engr. Mohammed Ajiya of Digital Bridge Institute, and Prof. Charles Uwadia of Computer Professionals Registrations Council.

Additional inductees were Engr. Ike Nnamani of Medallion, Chijioke Eke, Mkpe Abang, Aaron Ukodie, Ufuoma Daro, Dr. Bayero Agabi, Shina Badaru, Abimbola Tooki, Don Pedro Aganbi, Ken Nwogbo, Remmy Nweke, Segun Oruame, Okoh Aihe, Sonny Aragba-Akpore and Hajia Hadiza Umar of NITDA among others.

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Don Pedro Aganbi congratulated the inductees, saying they were being recognised in their own right based on various contributions they made to the ICT industry. He said the recognition was part of the commemoration of Nigeria’s diamond independence anniversary.

“It is beyond dispute that the work that you all do is essential to enhancing our quality of life as a nation and individual members of the Nigerian nation,” he said, noting that Titans of Tech is a flagship industry event that annually celebrates excellence in the Nigerian ICT space.

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