At the LHoFT, we strongly believe that financial technology is crucial to advancing financial inclusion, empowering groups that have been left behind by the traditional financial system. Whether it’s financing for rural farmers, point of sale technology for underbanked merchants, or specialised insurance products, the positive impact being driven by entrepreneurship is improving lives around the world.
Building on the success of previous experience, CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa is a unique one week program of Fintech startup development built by the LHoFT Foundation, targeting African Fintech companies, focusing on creating bridges between Africa and Europe and aligned with the sustainability goals of Luxembourg’s finance centre.
In the run up to our Financial Inclusion event we will be sharing insight from key figures in the Financial Inclusion world, beginning with Grégoire Yakan, Founder of Koosmik:
“We won’t pretend to save the world with only a smartphone app but at least giving merchants, entrepreneurs, students, and women free access to financial services is life-changing.” – Grégoire Yakan
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your company?
Hey Catapult ! I am just an ordinary geek with a math background so let’s focus on the startup. Koosmik’s name is derived from Cosmic as we want to free people from banking gravity and provide only the best. Our company self-financed the prototype from 2014 to 2016 thanks to IT Consulting in Africa, and we’ve raised 1 M€ in July 2017 here in Luxembourg, to launch operations in Togo as a “pilot” where we have now more than 50 000 happy users who deserve the best product we are constantly improving!
What were you involved in before Koosmik which led to the development of this idea?
Before Koosmik, while doing my Master’s degree, I launched a web agency company specialized in e-commerce and payments. If you simply add monthly business trips Africa, a spoon of craziness, plenty of coffee and the desire to be really useful through an idea and a product, then shake it and that gives you the Koosmik’s signature cocktail recipe. Cheers.
QR code based transactions are a popular solution for African merchants, and supported in your app. Do you think NFC payments are the logical next step in the technological evolution, or something else?
We think that Africa will jump above the classic credit card technology to use smartphones directly. Like using 4G without knowing the EDGE/3G before or cellphones without having had landlines. Our mission is not to determine which technology is the best one, but to make payments (and financial services generally speaking) easier, faster, safer and cheaper.
What advice would you offer to other founders looking to increase Financial Inclusion in Africa?
Humbly not sure we can give advice to other founders at this stage, simply do not underestimate time and money needed. It’s not easier, cheaper or faster because it’s Africa, gathering a dream-team to provide a great product is always longer and harder than expected. Having said that, go fast, but step by step, and keep in mind Mandela: “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”
What are you hoping to get out of your experience at CATAPULT?
Gathering the best fintechs together in Luxembourg for a financial inclusion event like this is amazing. We look forward to working with other fintechs, to trying to plug and connect all our products to make financial inclusion happen. Meeting great entrepreneurs sharing their stories always benefit and we want to keep innovating with them. Stronger together !
What’s next for Koosmik? What do you see as the key challenges as you grow further?
What does ‘financial inclusion’ mean to you?
Financial inclusion at Koosmik is highly correlated to our values and goals to reduce inequalities of access to financial services (and not only payments). We won’t pretend to save the world with only a smartphone app but at least giving merchants, entrepreneurs, students, and women free access to financial services is life-changing. Especially in countries where almost 75% of the population remain unbanked.
Top image courtesy of F. Pizzolante /Editpress.