Former Diamond Bank CEO launches Nigerian start-up Sparkle
Former CEO of Diamond Bank, a subsidiary of Nigeria’s multinational Access Bank Group, has launched a digital banking start-up in Nigeria called Sparkle, Disrupt Africa reports.
Having run what is now Africa’s largest bank, where he grew the retail banking arm to 18 million customers and oversaw the successful merger with Access Bank in April 2019, Uzoma Dozie is turning his hand to the start-up scene.
Sparkle is based out of Lagos. It aims to target consumers and retail small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with its solutions. It wants to use technology to support and grow an entire community of retailers across the continent.
Already armed with a banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sparkle’s mobile app is offering consumer services focused around flexible payments, savings and analytics – such as bill splitting, bill payments, and incentive discounts with partner merchants.
The fintech has also collected a series of heavy weight partners, including Visa, Microsoft and PwC Nigeria, to help it develop its retail-focused offerings.
“With Sparkle we are building customer experience-led functions around savings, lending, automated inventory and asset management, and we are also developing tools to help users register their companies, register for tax and even domains,” Dozie told Forbes last August.
“We want to bring more people into the ‘system’ and plug the gap in terms of business advisory and regulatory services for retail SMEs in the country,” Dozie added. “These are services that do not currently exist under one roof for retailers.”
Dozie sees the mobile phone as the future of banking in Africa. At Diamond Bank, between 2014 and 2018, he grew its mobile app users from 204,000 to 3.3 million. It took the bank nearly 20 years to accumulate the same through its branch network, hence proving that digital is the cheaper, more scalable solution.
“It’s an exciting time for retail in Nigeria,” said Dozie. “It [Sparkle] is by no means a quick-fix solution, but we are committed to solving the unique and complex, changing needs of the Nigerian market.”