History of Opay

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History of Opay

Fintech has proven to be one of the most fertile areas for entrepreneurs to innovate globally over the past decade. Finance is the engine that powers the economy both at the individual level – bank accounts, mortgages and credit – and at the corporate level – payment processing, lending, point of sale systems row. The massive popularity of Fintech as a category for entrepreneurs has been driven by huge unbanked populations in countries around the world, the dominance of cash as a means of global transaction protocol and limited access for most people – even those with bank accounts – to finance. service.


In particular, the African continent is both an underdeveloped country in financial inclusion and a global pioneer in specific fintech categories, especially mobile payments, where MPesa’s Kenya has emerged as a leading mobile money product in the world. In fact, more than half of the world’s mobile money products are based in Africa. One of the most exciting fintech startups in the world right now is Nigerian mobile money startup OPay. What’s unique is that Opay was originally hatched and funded by the Norwegian Internet browser company Opera, one of the most unique origin stories for a startup anywhere in the world. Opay was founded in 2018 and has made an incredible amount of money in less than 3 years:



$38 million in revenue in 2020 (ends 2020 at an annualized rate of nearly $70 million)


Raised $570 million in funding


Valued at $2 billion


Build a network of 300,000 offline agents to act as a real-world gateway to your financial products


Serving nearly 10 million Nigerians today


Processing about one-fifth of point-of-sale (POS) payments in Nigeria today


OPay’s incredible scale is not unique to mobile money startups globally or even in Nigeria. However, the company’s recent $400 million funding round provided the company with massive war funding to fuel its expansion in Nigeria and across the continent.





Opay started with the launch of its mobile money platform in Lagos (Nigeria’s largest city) in 2018. Since then, Opay has rapidly expanded its suite of services with the vision of becoming a Super App for Nigeria, similar to the vision achieved by Grab, Meituan and to a lesser extent JumiaPay. OPay launched ORide (currently defunct bike rental service), OBus, bus booking platform (also defunct), OExpress (logistics delivery service), OTrade (commercial platform) electronic B2B) and OFood (food delivery service).


However, the only product that was truly disruptive for OPay was the mobile money product, and it closed many other businesses to focus on that product. Today, Opay has three main product offerings:

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Pay Opay:

A mobile application for peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions as well as making digital payments for goods and services


Opay Seller Tools:

Free merchant point of sale and other tools for instant processing and settlement of transactions and sale of digital services (such as mobile data)


Opay Card:

The company recently launched a debit card as an extension of the platform.




Africa is the next big frontier in the global economy and will see its population more than double from 1 billion today to 2.5 billion by 2050. The GSMA estimates that sub-Saharan Africa currently has nearly 550 million mobile money accounts, of which 160 million are regularly active. There is still a significant opportunity to attract new users as well as increase existing user engagement. The largest country in Africa in terms of economy and population is Nigeria. The country’s booming population (200 million people) and large GDP ($450 billion) have attracted entrepreneurs and investors from around the world. Nigeria – like most emerging markets – is a very young country with 44% of the Nigerian population under the age of 14.

The Nigerian economy has begun to rapidly digitize over the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this wave of digitalisation. This acceleration is especially pronounced in the world of payments. The volume of mobile payments in Nigeria has grown by 260% from 830 billion naira in 2019 to over 3 trillion naira in 2020. In June 2021, the volume of mobile payments in Nigeria almost surpassed the total volume. of 2020. This rapid growth in digital payments has decades of growth ahead of it. According to data from the Nigeria Interbank Payment System (NIBSS) As of August 2021, the number of adults in Nigeria with a Bank Verification Number (BVN) is 49 million, out of a total of 100 million adults. This implies that nearly 50% of Nigeria’s adult population is unbanked and lacks meaningful access to financial services. If Nigeria’s unbanked adult population were their own country, it would be the 29th largest country in the world.



Nigeria’s large population and economy have inspired many entrepreneurs over the years. The country is seeing a multi-year fintech boom in mobile payments, digital banking and financial infrastructure. OPay has achieved considerable scale in mobile payment volumes in Nigeria, but it is not the only startup to do so. The main competitors of OPay in Nigeria today are:

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vibration wave:

The company offers a similar set of products to OPay, but operates in 11 major countries, including Nigeria. See an earlier emerging breakdown of the company here.


Money shredder:

The company’s suite of products is very similar to Flutterwave, but includes the ability to buy shares, a unique feature among all mobile money startups in Nigeria. Page:

The company’s mobile app allows users to send and receive money, pay bills, and pay for other digital services like OPay.



Interswitch is one of Nigeria’s oldest fintech companies and over the past two decades has built a wide range of products including Africa’s largest credit card network, Verve. See an earlier emerging breakdown of the company here.



Growth opportunity

OPay’s rapid growth in Nigeria provides it with a very solid foundation in the coming years to further develop its business. Each mobile money startup in Nigeria has used slightly different product and go-to-market strategies as they have grown. As OPay looks to the future, it has viable strategies to pursue growth, including:



Geographic expansion


Added buy now, postpaid and other consumer credit options


Developing into a digital bank on a large scale


To date, OPay focuses on Nigeria – Africa’s biggest prize pool. Despite this, more than 800 million people live on the African continent outside of Nigeria. Flutterwave has expanded aggressively outside of Nigeria and today operates in 11 major markets and is available in one form or another in 30 countries across the continent. OPay will likely follow in the footsteps of Flutterwave and use its recent $400 million funding round to expand into other major markets in Africa. In fact, earlier this year, OPay launched in Egypt, Africa’s second largest economy with a population of 100 million. In addition to Flutterwave, OPay faces major competition in Egypt from Fawry, an Egyptian mobile money and payments company that recently went public and has a market capitalization of around $1.8 billion.

Besides geographical expansion, OPay can expand its product line by adding buy now, pay later (BNPL) functionality and other consumer credit options. In emerging markets around the world, the availability of credit and credit card penetration are very low compared to the West. This lack of available credit is detrimental to both consumers and businesses. BNPL’s business model has shown great promise globally, pioneered by companies such as Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay in the West, as well as Kredivo (Indonesia) and ZestMoney (India) in new markets floating. Credit card penetration was as low as 1.5% in Africa in 2018. The opportunity for BNPL to provide credit in Africa is huge, and payments and mobile wallets are key determinants of making that happen.

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Ultimately, while OPay pursues strategies one and two for growth, strategy three – becoming a full-fledged digital bank – becomes the logical evolution of its product suite and business model. the company. Opay’s large user base will allow it to rapidly scale into a full-fledged digital bank if it chooses and reflects the enormous success NuBank has had in Brazil. Nigeria already has a major digital banking startup, Kuda Bank, which recently raised $55 million in funding at a $500 million valuation. Kuda claims to have 1.4 million users today, compared to the nearly 2 million mobile wallets with balances that OPay claims to have and the 10 million Nigerians it claims to serve directly or indirectly. However, Nigerian financial regulators recently launched a strong crackdown on fintech companies in the country, introducing a host of new regulations and restrictions. This is a major potential stumbling block in all of OPay’s aspirations to become a digital bank in Nigeria.


OPay’s rapid growth in payment volume in Nigeria and recent $400 million in funding create good conditions for strong growth in the coming years, both in Nigeria and the new markets in which the company is operating. extend. As the pace of financial inclusion continues to grow across Africa, mobile money products like OPay are key to bringing the unbanked into complex financial systems and financial products. like debit cards, home loans, student loans – things that OPay can deliver on time. Time will tell whether OPay remains focused on mobile-only payments or evolves into full-blown digital banking or something in between. Regardless of the approach, OPay will continue to grow rapidly and capitalize on its initial momentum in Nigeria. Rappi is a Latin American super app and has 10 million users in 250 cities and has raised over $2 billion in funding to date.

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