ZazuAfrica
Tim: [00:00:03] Well, their record button has been pressed.
Vim: [00:00:08] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Distributed Future podcade. I am Vimla Appadoo and we've got Tim Panton and Perseus joining us today. Uh, the Distributed Future podcast is where we sit and discuss all things to do with the future and understanding our roles and the role that we want to develop technology and really unpack the questions that we haven't answered yet.
Tim ?
Tim: [00:00:32] Yeah. So I'm Tim pants and I'm a cohost on the podcast and yeah, I'm, I'm the aim of this from my point of view is trying to understand what the future looks like by talking to people who are currently building it. And ideally people you might not have heard from before
Perseus: [00:00:50] Great.
Vim: [00:00:51] So I mentioned, we've got Perseus with today with us.
Um, Perseus is your background and story and your tech adventures stems way beyond my rounds of understanding. So I'm going to hand over to you to introduce yourself and what you've been working on.
Perseus: [00:01:05] Perfect. Thank you so much. I'm very excited to be here. I really like this platform that we're using. It's a shame that people can't see it.
Uh, but to introduce myself, my name is pastures and I'm one of the founders, or if a company calle ZazuAfrica, we started in 2015 and that's how I know . At the time we started the company because we wanted to help a small holder farmers. Across Africa to be able to sell their produce better. We did a few transactions with a group of, and then we realized biggest challenge that people were experiencing wasn't necessarily to do with access to markets.
But it was more to do around financial services. How do you help people to be able to have more money tomorrow? And what do you really need to do for them to be able to understand the decisions they make today and the impact they can have in the future? So since 2016, 2017, we've been focusing on building a challenger bank.
Really the first product that we developed was trying to understand, uh, how people interact with financial services. So we built a chatbot which uses SMS and it was teaching people about simple concepts, like mobile money, digital financial services, how to think about insurance how to borrow money responsibly.
And the purpose of that chat bot was just really to be able to help us understand the different nuances that happen and whether somebody is going to capital city or somebody in the rural areas. So we learned quite a lot about it. And the chat was really grew into something that we didn't think was possible.
So, as an example, we had over 1.5 million people interact with this chatbot using SMS, uh, over 15, 15, 18 months. So we learned quite a lot about how people think about these different services and what they're really worried about, but more importantly, uh, how they think about purchasing something. So we use those insights to develop really version
one of our challenge of bank and the version one was: giving people, a prepaid debit card connected to the zazu mobile alerts. And it was very, very, very embarrassed. It just allowed people to deposit money into it. But once you put the positive money, they couldn't really spend the money they had on the wallet because we didn't have a merchant.
So we ended up developing a QR code, but then people are like, well, this is not really Asia. They don't really interact with the QR code. So, all right, then we need them to giving people a virtual debit card. So we made a virtual card five weeks ago. And since then, the uptake has been incredible.
We're seeing a lot of people are downloading the app and interacting with it for the breakfast time. And they're using it on things, superficial things like Netflix, but which have become really important in light of the pandemic. We're also seeing smaller businesses starting to use the product and starting to pay for supplies from companies who are not even in Zambia.
Yeah. So for us, it's really exciting because suddenly Zazu is opening Zambia to the global economy and going on the insights that we're picking up, it's like, all right, then, What does the future look like? Do we just want develop a product for Zambia. Uh, and the answer is always yes to be known because Zambia is 17, 18 million people.
So personally, I couldn't justify spending a million dollars to develop like a challenger bank. How do you hope to make that money? The unit economics doesn't add up right. So we've been thinking around the broader themes about things that we've been, noticing, since we started on this journey, we've seen at least 15 other companies as set up a similar product in Zambia.
So all of a sudden fin-tech is like really hot now. And it's really competitive, but everybody's still developing the same product and mobile wallet. So, how do you really hope to be able to differentiate yourself? And this is not just happening in Zambia, it's happening all over the world, but to focus on Africa, there's over 4,000 companies now who for the same wallet functionality.
So what we've been setting up over the last, since January is a union54, and the idea of union 54 is something which is really tropical today. And I believe it's going to be more topical over the next few years. And that is around digital nationalism to pick a really bad example. A really good example is what's happening, uh, Donald Trump.
And ticktock where they just wake up and give an executive order. And they say, we don't want this product to be used in this particular market. And for me, that's one of the biggest challenges that keeps me up at night. What's going to happen if somebody says. This country is not allowed to use US dollars when it's so important to everything that happens on of the toilet paper, all of the baby food is being bought from neighboring countries.
And if you're unable to interact with our financial system, then what does it mean for the people who are in these countries? So I'll stop for now and get some air.
Tim: [00:06:21] Yeah, no, I was just going to say, it's funny that I, what you just said about digital nationalism. I heard almost exactly the same thing from German car makers. Like the idea that they can't sell, you know, pick a random name Volkswagen, can't sell a car without American permission. Really, really bothers them.
Um, so it's not just like it's a globe, it's turned into a global problem, and it's really interesting to see what people's responses are. And I'm fascinated to hear more about how you think that might work. But anyways, sorry Vim I cut you off.
Vim: [00:06:55] No, I was just going to say it's an incredible journey. And one of the things that's really stood out to me, the digital nationalism massively, but the right back to your.
Gathering the data and insight through SMS and recognizing the different platforms needed for your market. Um, we, we spoke to, um, A, a participant in Malawi around kind of internet infrastructure and understanding the needs of the country. A little bit more about kind of the, what the market looks like in terms of uptake of different technology and how you imagine that shifting over the next few years.
Perseus: [00:07:38] Yeah. Uh, so for us, we operate in the, in a regulated space. So we, before we introduce a product, we need to get approval from the central bank or from the different regulators in many different markets. And when we started doing this were coming from a very different background. So we knew that it was going to take us a bit longer.
To get those regulatory approvals. In our case, in Zambia, it took us 18 months. We've applied for a license in Mozambique, and it took us around nine months and somewhere else, It took us around 12 months. Malawi actually, so we are getting better at it in terms of getting those approvals, but we still have to wait and we didn't want.
There's instance to be waiting for this license to be issued by the central bank. And we knew that we had gaps that we needed to fill in because we wanted to develop a product that was informed by what people were saying. So the first piece of research that we did for looking at exactly about how do people use Digital.
Digital means very different things. I once heard a statistic that when people talk about the internet in Zimbabwe, the internet is basically WhatsApp. And if you look at the consumption of like everything, like what people are doing, so that's a very important place to start from. And once we understood that digital means different things.
We then wanted to be able to understand, within a financial services box, what are people really looking to? What are they intimidated by? And the idea was that would use those lessons to then help us to develop a product. So since we've started on this journey, we've seen a lot of uptake.
From, uh, people using internet. Uh, as an example, when we first came on the market around 50% of people were using a smartphone, but now that is increasing year on year, it's given to a point where people are now having, starting to have more than one device when we start interacting on and is becoming more sophisticated.
So previously there was nobody who was doing like gambling on the internet, but over the last two, three years, That's blown up and it's become like an issue. How do you really help people to be able to understand the risks, uh, when interacting with some of these services? So for us chat bot is a really quick and dirty way for us to be able to interact with our potential customers.
And I think it's paid off, um, because I don't think there's anybody who's got the reach that Zazu has been able to obtain, but more than the reach is around the distribution as well. So we're in Lusaka right now, which is the capital city, but all of us users of the chatbot we're coming from very, very different parts of Zambia that I've never been to.
And it was really effective that we'll just go on the radio and say, Hey, you can learn about financial services to do so. Send us this word to this phone number and then people, okay, this is free education is coming from a non biased party and start to consume it. And when they start to interact with you, then start to learn more about what products are people are thinking about today.
What are they likely going to be thinking about in the next three in the next six months? And what do we need to take into consideration before we start developing this? Does that answer your question?
Vim: [00:10:57] Yeah. Yeah. And it's one of the common things that kind of springs up in a lot of our conversations is around that kind of data ethics and understanding how it's being used.
Was that something that came up a lot in how you, and just generally the kind of implementing the service.
Perseus: [00:11:16] Uh, so we're a bit lucky that when we started doing this, we obviously had a, uh, an understanding or not really how big he can get by some of the things you need to take in consideration. Uh, so it was around the same time that Facebook had been through the debacle with the elections in America.
And it was like a really hot topic. So what used to happen in the early days when people read some of our reports? Cause we always publish the reports on the internet. So different companies would see, Oh, there's this new FinTech who are teaching people about insurance and they would send a sales person and they'll say, Oh, you cannot sell insurance to people.
Or you can now allow us to lend money to those people. Well, no, not really because we're doing it to learn and people are trusting us. They're trusting the brand that they're going to come here and they're going to lend something really insightful. And we don't want to ruin that user experienced, but then saying.
Now that you've learned, you can go borrow money from Vimla company or from Perseus, because then people won't come back. Uh, so I think are from the early days were always very honest that we're not going to try to, so people, uh, anything that they didn't want. If you think about it, it would have been, uh, the opposite of why we did it, where people are trusting you, and then you put these spammy messages or the referral link.
And once you do that, you ruin the brand and you get some quick, some quick money, but then you can't really do it on top of that. So I think it's a decision that's really paid off. If we're done that wouldn't have the reputation that we have now, and we wouldn't have learned as much as we did. Uh, and I think for us, it helps, we really partnered with somebody.
So we partnered with a financial sector, depending Zambia who had been working with, uh, saving groups across some. Yeah. And they've been helping people understand how easily they can start to save what some of the things they need to take in consideration when they're creating a savings group. So for us, that partnership was really a guiding point where we didn't necessarily develop all the content.
And we didn't want to self promote within that educational framework. So we went to them and said, we've got this two way chatbot, which can be configured to use SMS. We want to teach people about financial services. What do you guys as experts understand that nobody else does? So they gave up a lot of PDFs that we took, and then we went to the ministry of curriculum development and we said, we've got these two way SMS chat bots.
We've got this content from this land bias party. You guys, as the regulators in this space, what do you want people to understand about these issues and how can we really work together? So for us, it really helps that we almost had a, you can call it an advisory board of people who would tell you if we're doing something wrong.
And I think that was really important.
Tim: [00:14:11] How did you get access to those people? How easy was it? To get buy in from, from people who were providing the content. And, um, I suppose in a sense kind of vetting it for you.
Perseus: [00:14:25] Ah, so in our case, yes, it happened by accident. The first time that we met financial sector, depending Zambia, we were showing them the platform, uh, with a view of getting investment from them.
And they're not in the space. So we lost contact for around maybe six, nine months. And then suddenly we just met at this networking event and we're like, Oh, we're not thinking about teaching people about financial education. And they're like, ah, that's what we're interested in. How can we work together?
So it was just like a it's suits everybody's strategic objective perfectly well. And once you put the buy in from both people who are respected by the government, by the community as well, then it became easier to get everybody else on board.
Vim: [00:15:11] You make it seem really easy. Um, Cause to me as a, as a service designer, as someone who focuses on that user experience, the way you've approached it and the conversations you've been able to have that kind of government level, as well as getting the information on the ground is the dream where you're providing a service saying is it is easy way to say what was, what were the stumbling blocks for you?
Perseus: [00:15:42] There were a few. So there were, there was an instance in which obviously we're using SMS as to communicate with people. And before you do that, you need to get a certificate which gives you access to the short code. So you get that from the regulator or the telecoms for you obviously have to pay quite a bit of money to be able to get them, to start to integrate it to all of the mobile network operators.
And then inevitably you in care, some setup costs, but in our case, it worked out like a really bullish relief that we understand digital that these guys might not be suited to, uh, because they've had different experiences. And being able to go and not show them like wire frames and show them actual the chat bot is working.
So when we would find to get some of these partners on board, who would literally go with like a chat bot and we say alright, we're going to use an example. So let's teach people about how to comb their hair. And then would quickly upload that content in real time. So when people started to understand, I think it's always different, right?
When you're talking about something, vs is actually showing it to people. There's a, there's a moment in which people just stop speaking and they look at it, they're like, Oh, okay, this is what it does. And this is how like, everything works. So I think for us, it was really good that we always had like these, uh, like the ability to show people in real time what some of these concepts were.
Okay.
Tim: [00:17:10] What were surprises you, you know, you learn from, from the chatbox experience. Was there anything that like, kind of, you really weren't expecting and suddenly you learnt that? I don't know, whatever it
Perseus: [00:17:22] was. I think there are quite a few. So one big issue that enough people are talking about is related to climate change.
At least I believe. And so a lot of people are speaking about it, but in the wrong context where people are talking about it from Washington or from Seattle, but the people who are being affected by it are people are in Mozambique or people in Southern Africa, where is becoming really, really different by the day.
So within that context, people start to think about, Oh, how can we help you put to start interacting more with insurance services? So we developed two courses to teach people about general insurance and more specifically climate change weather index insurance. So weather index insurance as to if I can remember it, but basically it means to get insured, uh, for the square that you're living in a way of families.
If you don't get enough rainfall, uh, the payout is automatically triggered. So when we develop this content, we're like, this would be really boring. Like the, nobody wants to learn about insurance, but then it was one of the most popular courses. And when we started to speak with people, it's because. Could connected with the immediate future.
And they were really interested in what are the questions I should be asking before I go to an insurance company. So for us it was like, okay, uh, we still don't know if you will buy insurance by the way, but we know that they're, they want to learn about it.
Vim: [00:18:56] It's really interesting because your take on like FinTech and being a challenge about it touches on so many different types of.
Ways that we break up technology, but the education tech sector, the financial services sector, the being a bank itself, it's split it's that I don't like splitting it into Western, but like the Western perception of what a challenge bank ia. So when you look at Monzo or Starling or any of the challenges that you've got in the UK, the narrative is.
So much more focused on just a simpler way of banking. But what you've got in with Zazu is a completely different. It's like, no, no, it's there, it's an education tool. It's a, how to have a financial organization is, is it's really refreshing to hear.
Perseus: [00:19:54] Yeah, I think, uh, so when we started out, uh, We were like, uh, obviously looking what's happening in Europe, all of these challenger banks are becoming more popular by the day.
And we found that, that the model doesn't matter necessarily translate late to this context. Cause if like you're saying correctly, is that there's so many components that we end up having to do, which you wouldn't need to do if you're operating in a more developed market. So the issues around education.
Uh, so a lot of the narrative that we see from the investment space, people always say, Oh, you shouldn't have to educate your market because then once you do that, you're like, it's not going to be profitable, but that doesn't realize that people are coming from it, different understanding or different expectation from their service providers.
Like if I go, and if I'm going to vouch for my product to people, I want people to be able to know that this is Perseus. Yes. And this is why this is doing this journey. I want people to be able to understand that when they give me their phone number or they give me the ID card, they know that it's not going to end up on the, on the internet somewhere, uh, unauthorized they know about if they're gonna.
What do we want to achieve? Because it's not just about getting like high valuation, but it's actually being able to actually, uh, some of these changes that we're looking for. So a key part of why we started the company is because we're frustrated. There's so much money out there in the DFI space, within the VC community, a lot of folks really, but that money is all focussed on the quick dirty wins like seven, 10 year timelines. But what we're saying is that that's not realistic. What we're trying to do is a much more longer term genuine, uh, and testing upon like bring new people. I don't want to use the word financial inclusion because that immediately people would think around poor communities.
But what we're saying is like, there's a different way. It helped their way to be able to understand and interact with financial services. So this is some of the things, the benefit that we have is that we're coming from a perspective we're coming from it from Zambia, right? As an example, and we've seen what can happen if the things are not regulated properly.
So an example is Wonga who were coming up and they were offering this quake dairy loan to people. And then nobody could afford to pay them and then there's swimming repercussions, but it doesn't have to be that way. So we've seen what works. Let's not do that again. Uh, it's easier for us to teach people that never borrow money from a, from a conman or from a loan shark than it is to say to people don't start dirty businesses.
So if everybody is informed from day one as a consumer, then there's no room for all of these shoddy businesses to appear. And I think. That's what that says is USP is that it's, it's taken on that approach.
Vim: [00:22:51] But certainly I know you're eager to jump in because you are taking notes furiously that I'm seeing in the market.
I think that, that, I think that's a common misconception between the two markets, the problems that you're solving exists. In, in European markets, they're just not spoken about. And I think you're right. It's being taught through the lens of financial inclusion and that's wrong. There's just this fundamental misunderstand in what a challenge a bank should be.
And the challenger bank you've have in the UK after the preface, few who have access to those services is. Yes, um, approach to banking. And I think that's the problem, and we're not the challenge about the exist aren't challenge banks it just, but the different colored bankcard, and that really shakes the market.
Perseus: [00:23:47] And so that's very true with somebody. Who's got a perfectly functional account. We don't expect you, but you say, Oh my God, I love this bank. Cause that's like unrealistic. That's like a cult, like people. You love your pets, but you don't love your bank. Right. And that's like perfectly fine, but people should show you that will appreciate the product that you built.
And what we're building for is a problem that exists today. But the problems that we're addressing are going to be like, They're going to be changing over the next five to 10 years. So we started out by educating people about their rights, basically at consumers. And then we've introduced, uh, and more like challenger bank model, where you put a debit card, which helps you to do more with your money.
But we also realized that the rate of, uh, internet adoption is actually increasing a lot in Africa. So very soon there's going to be a huge influx of people who are really interested in building platforms that we haven't even thought about today. And your people are going to be able to monetize their creative talents or their skills.
Then they need a financial system that helps them to be able to deploy their product in neighboring countries to be able to enter in different currencies. So within that framework, we've built quite a lot of this. Products and we're slowly introducing them. So we really benefited from not being able to launch our products immediately.
Like it took us four years to be able to get to a point where we're going to start to confidently talk about what we want to achieve. But within that time we're getting a lot of research with a lot of building. And now we've come to a point where it's become like this perfect. More meant to be able to introduce some of these products like, uh, this Corona virus, it's like a terrible situation obviously, but we've been able to, uh, introduce our virtual debit cards, which are actually saying to people there's a safer way to be able to transact on the internet.
And this is how you go about using it. And we've seen that it's been really popular. So I think the challenger bank narrative, I think you need to reflect a bit more accurately. What is happening within these different economies?
Vim: [00:25:55] Yeah, I just saw them again. I just felt like
just, it's incredible. Sorry. You got to,
Tim: [00:26:10] yeah, I know. I was kind of thinking is, is that it, I'm not convinced that the UK market is as different. Like I think there is a real demand for. For what you've been doing in terms of building up community and trust. Um, I mean, you know, the, the thing that used to, to do this, the fill that niche was the co-op bank.
And for various reasons, that's like lost a degree of, of forward momentum. I don't think now time to go into that, but, but I do think there's a niche in the market on probably quite a big capacity in the market for something that was a trusted educator. Um, and that was building a community. And I do, um, I don't know how we, how we do that, but okay.
Don't see. Any of the challenger banks even attempting to do that, which is, seems to me like you've got to, you've got a blueprint there that somebody should kind of set up in, in, in Sheffield or Leeds and go off and do, um,
Perseus: [00:27:14] Yeah. And I agree, like people don't talk about like some of these left out areas, like you're just like Sheffield, Leeds like Liverpool, but I think you have to make a decision.
Like, do I really want to, I don't really know much about that my kids, but it is a problem that exists. Uh, like I dunno, like Marcus Rashford has been talking about, there are a lot of people who are going to school without eating, a lot of kids, and it's not a narrative that. The British want to talk about it, but the problem is there.
Vim: [00:27:46] Yeah. I think that's the thing is, I mean, again, the pandemic, all of its horrific consequences is where you shine a light on those inequalities. But it's what you're saying is like now the time to change, but are we, are we in Britain ready, ready to embrace that change? Are we just going to sit back and.
let thing's carrying on for me, the voices, if the Zazus out there in the UK, I'm strong enough to make that claim that we've just not been ready for that he's an alleged disruptions for that disruptive. Cause. It was because everything was seen as his teetered on the edge of disruption, but just carried on with the status quo.
Perseus: [00:28:31] Yeah. So what do you hope is gonna, what do you hope that Corona is going to change about. What we were doing two years ago, this is what we're going to be doing, but what do you realistically think that is gonna change?
Vim: [00:28:45] So realistically is the key word. Cause when you first asked that new government new government structures, um, realistically, I think that has to be, uh, a re
visit if the welfare state and what that means, um, depending on where a government in place will massively determine what that looks like. And so if we reflect that the kind of social changes you've seen during the pandemic. In the reliant government, bailouts for businesses and organizations that doesn't fit the narrative of the government in place.
Now there's had to have happened in order to support the future with the country. So that kind of look at welfare and how we position support and help. I'm really positive or hopeful that we'll do it with the right heart and intent. Because people are using their voices now to call it out when it's not working.
Perseus: [00:29:51] Wow. So you're saying good. Tories are going to pivot
Tim: [00:29:56] officially. They have, you know, this whole leveling up agenda is he is, is exactly what, uh, what Vim is talking about, you know, whether. Whether they'll successfully follow through on it is a whole other other question, but, but at least on, on paper, they are saying that that is what they, they want to do.
Right. I think we do. I mean, you know, in terms of what you were saying of. What the possibilities are. Uh, I think what you said about, about like the ability to talk to regulators and, and, and work with them and work with financial info organizations who are willing to take on something new. I think that's really interesting.
I think in a way you're already ahead of us. Right. You know, getting, and that sort of thing done here is still too difficult. And I think, and, and getting kind of government cooperation with that sort of thing is still far too difficult. It's probably cause it's a big economy and it's an old economy and there's a lot of, kind of, uh, you know, momentum or mass or I don't know, whatever the physics is of anything that kind of slows things down.
Perseus: [00:31:09] Yeah, and I think that's one of the reasons you really want to spend like three years going through the motions with the FCA to be, get, to be able to get approval. And then once you do that, you're not really sure you're going to be able to operate the products in the rest of Europe. Then you're kind of flat restricted to, to, to this Island.
And I think for us, uh, it wasn't. I think it was just more of a personal drive. Like this is where we can affect the most change. Uh, everything is a lot cheaper, not alone compared to like Europe. Uh, but in terms of like getting things off the ground, uh, once you pull that momentum, you can quickly then start to build on it.
And if you are successful in getting the model right then with union54, We've got the opportunity to actually grow a lot faster than some of these challenges, things that we've seen. Not that it's a personal drive, but because it actually makes them a core shareholders, uh, realize what we always you're speaking about it, but we didn't call the company.
Zazu Zambia. We called it ZazuAfrica. Of course we always had like this idea that these problems that were stolen from. They do exist in every market around the world, but we just want to focus on our, in Africa.
Tim: [00:32:24] So what's the name union54 mean for you? What are the connotations. Where does it come from?
Perseus: [00:32:32] Vim, what do you think? Union 54 ? I can see your smile
Vim: [00:32:36] The 54 African countries that you representing.
Perseus: [00:32:42] Yeah.
Vim: [00:32:43] My mind jumps, to the jumps football, the African cup of nations.
Perseus: [00:32:51] Yeah. We started noticing it quite early on. Every time we spoke about the Zazu product would get a lot of interests. Maybe three or four different companies reaching out to us three or four different countries. And they were all asking us, how do you get a really good partnership with one of the pilot schemes?
And could they use a product that we developed? Uh, so within this, as a product right now, we've set limitations on. Who can use it. So if you download the product in Tanzania, we don't allow you to create a mobile wallet because we've just not been ready to do so. So we started to notice that, hang on a minute, there's a lot of customers we're trying to use it from outside of Zambia, but there's also a lot of inbound inquiries coming from, uh, other fin-techs in other markets.
So we've been going back and forth around unit 54 and really asking ourselves if we were to take this product that we've developed into other parts of the continent, how would that model look like? And like everybody else. I think the first idea that we had with like, well, why don't we just go out and acquire companies?
And we really do not like doing that because that sets out different incentive structures. Like, if you say that you're a hundred million dollars and you're going to be acquiring the fintechs, you end up getting at a few of them approaching you as difficult, they wanted an exit, but you really struggle to be able to say or how do we bring them on board so that we can integrate them into not just our product suite, but our way of thinking and our vision.
So you end up at for want of a better description,herding cats. And for us that wasn't very attractive. They ended up becoming like the middle management level. So the idea of being in 54 is how can we find people who have been doing what we've been doing already? They've got an understanding that some things are broken and there's greater scope for more cooperation now.
And they want to be able to operate the products that we have. So we bring them out in 54 as founding members and they have equity in the company. They can make decisions about what products we should develop, but if you've got a union 54 debit card, it works same with or Mauritias whether you're in Kenya, the user experience is the same.
And that's really important, especially if you start thinking about developing a shared identity. So right now it's been very difficult because you've got these clusters where everybody in West Africa is able to raise more money because. By default in a bigger market, but people in Malawi or people in Zambia have got the same problems, that everybody else has.
And because the startups there, don't get a lot of funding. So there's a lot of innovation that's coming through. So this is like a real problem. If you start to think that well, The opportunity is to develop a product for Africa is not, is to do away with this provincial mindset. And we are developing a product, which if you're lucky you're going to launch in three, five countries, it's not really attractive. So union54 to say everybody comes together and be together.
Tim: [00:36:01] Did you look at, um, how MasterCard got built?
Perseus: [00:36:06] You did that? I'm trying to build, I'm trying to buy the visa book cause everybody's been sending me like, Oh, I should read the BS of what happened.
Tim: [00:36:17] So, so I don't know the full story, but, but both MasterCard and visa are interesting because they are, um, they're owned by the banks and, but they operate on their own rules and the banks subscribed to them as, as.
Both as customers effectively, but also I think in both cases, they're owners. So you weren't, you were saying about, you know, finding, bringing people into Union and you bring your organizations into union 54 and then having them as, as, um, Not as strict subsidiaries, but as kind of members and shareholders, it kind of made me think about what I vaguely knew about that, but visa and MasterCard.
So it'd be interesting to see how much of that, um,
Perseus: [00:37:02] it's parallel. Yeah. And so that's like a really great, at least in my eyes is a really great, uh, like sentence where you own part of the company, but you're also using some of its services. So right now everybody is, if you've got a start up, then. That you have to apply to go on Y Combinator, if you go on Y Combinator and you're lucky you meet Andreessen and they give you like $16 million, right.
Then that changes your life. But this is how it's like the lottery. It's not really changing anything. Uh, everybody else is still competing for the attention of the same different people. And it's just stops people from focusing on what the opportunity to use. The opportunity is to develop a new financial infrastructure that awakes to what we understand about the local context and to be able to shape it.
So if I come to, to begin a, we want to introduce a debit card. Then you can say, no, it doesn't really work because we don't like using debit cards, but a QR code might be more popular than we do that. So for us, it's like, all right, let's stop. This provincial thinking. And just that talking about the real issues, like talking about tick tock, earlier, like if you will, one day and somebody said you couldn't use a U S dollars and everything that you're buying to be able to feed people is being bought in, US dollars, as, or if lucky club for pandemic, what people are really panicking about the supply chains.
And if something. Wow. Horrible happened. And you are unable to access it. Any of the services, then everything comes to a standstill and it's because for so long, people have been so reliant on these systems that we've stopped. They're just so easy to use. And just so, so nice to use, but for expensive, but it's cheaper to be able to think like, all right, what do we own?
And what do we want to change from that?
Vim: [00:39:01] Yeah, I think that's something really interesting. I'm really inspiring about that approach in, um, so in my mind, straight to them Euro, it's kind of a unifying factor that bridged a lot of the hurdles across Europe and not waiting for government to dictate that, but working with the businesses to implement what that could be.
And it goes back, you said earlier around. Um, recognizing the future needs of an emerging market. So countries in Africa become internet, provide or run businesses online with international global markets. Then the real, um, visceral need to be able to support those transactions and understands that this huge, massive, and that kind of foresight and understanding I think is, is again, reading, listen in other markets.
Perseus: [00:40:00] And that's a like, a really, really good example of the Euro, where like the Italians were using the Lira and they were still just so expensive to be able to, to do anything. But once they become part of the Europe, life got so much better, they were able to trade on the same terms or able to sell their apples or their vegetables to other neighboring markets.
And that hasn't happened to a certain extent it's been happening, uh, on like commercail level on like level, but for us to be able to say, alright, because Zambia is really good at mining copper and then Nigerians are really good at such a such, this needs to be a way to just moved money. Cause right now, if you're trying to do it, you're having to interact with the Swift network and the Swift network.
It's really expensive. It's really clunky. It's really slow. It was perfect, but not for like in the future we were going to, so right now this is free trade agreement. Which is starting to, to be signed on. People have come on board. The secretariat has already been placed Ghana. So there's real momentum to be able to realize this pan African future, but everybody has always been speaking of hours, like all my life.
Uh, so it's quite, it's going to happen. And those guys are already working on like a real time, real time payment system. But in the meantime, there's too a lot of opportunity to aggregate all of these technologies that people have been building. Cause my concern is that if you wait for, for the government to come in and implement something, it's not going to be done really, really nice just because it's like, bureaucratic is really slow or it might be very expensive and it might take them like five, seven years. In the meantime, I know of like people I'm speaking with for union54, they're covering our 27 different markets in Africa and everybody's already built like a mobile wallet.
Everybody's already built like a store of value. Everybody's already appealed something to do with payments acquiring. The only thing that's stopping is cash from talking to each other is because somebody down the line said, well, you have got to own like, uh, like the market and you've got to become like the biggest FinTech and that doesn't make sense.
It just so it's just so ridiculous. The opportunity to collaborate.
Vim: [00:42:19] Yeah.
Tim: [00:42:21] Yeah. And I was going to say that that seemed, that comes back to the, what you've been doing about buildings, community. I think you can, you know, if you have another outreach and other way of getting people. In other than being the only choice then, you know, uh, then that kind of competition and that kind of, of multiples suppliers works.
I think the problem comes when, when like there's only really one option. Um, and it happens to be owned by the phone company or something. Then, then you're in
Perseus: [00:42:52] trouble. Yeah. Exactly. This is why like you need a visa and MasterCard, you need Amex. You need discover, like, if you've got one, then it is, it's a problem.
It's like in Kenya where 98% of the market is owned by in m-pesa. Amazing for them. But from a regulatory perspective, when you're like, okay, maybe something is not correct. Right.
Tim: [00:43:19] Okay. Can you, can you? Do they let you work with them? The m-pesa people, or are you, are they like, we know how to do it go away.
Perseus: [00:43:32] I can't even, I can't think of anybody. Who's been able to partner with Vodafone. I think waterfall. Yeah. I'll need to do my research, but for now I can't think of anybody.
Vim: [00:43:43] Yeah. It really interesting because it's, um, you know, competition is good for capitalism and it's why am I, I have such a big problem with the word disruptive is because if you've got a truly disruptive tech as no market for you, you can't prove your market because it doesn't exist.
And one of my biggest problems with. The startup culture that's started in Silicon Valley is, is that narrative doesn't fit every culture. And nor is it a healthy one and nor does it actually induce the culture we want to start that kind of own your market share in the market. It doesn't work with what capitalism means.
There's no competition in that. Well, you can't put your prices up or whatever. It's going to be. It's counterintuitive to innovation to change, to build it. But again, there's no challenge to that narrative or that way of working because
Perseus: [00:44:37] we've just not
Vim: [00:44:39] been conscious of it.
Perseus: [00:44:41] No, I definitely agree, but don't get me wrong.
We're still going to be very competitive. Like we're going to be pushing in, union54 hard people are going to be signing up and they're going to be using good products. What we're saying is that there needs to be like alternatives. It shouldn't just be like, if you want to send money from Europe to Africa, you're going to use within union and they're going to charge you so much.
We still need to figure out a way that we can help people to have more money.
Vim: [00:45:09] Yeah, exactly. It is. It's encouraging the competition, but recognizing that competition is needed, it's not it's. Yeah.
Tim: [00:45:19] I wanted to ask about like outreach, you talked about SMS. Are there other platforms that you use and, and, and radio, which I thought was really interesting, um, cause like that's almost a kind of forgotten medium in, in.
Like, I don't know any UK anyway, um, from my perspective. So like how, how does, how do those things play off? And do you do like things like Facebook ads and whatever else, or is that not an issue?
Perseus: [00:45:49] Um, so in the beginning we used to do a lot of Facebook ads and it was really, really good. Cause you do like an advert and then within like 10, 15 minutes, you can start to see that it's working or it's not working, but what we've noticed over the last maybe year.
Is that it's becoming really hard to be able to get this same returns, uh, on Facebook. Yeah. So as a result, we don't spend a lot of money on it. What we used to do is just like. Maybe on Friday at like 5:00 PM, we put 10, 20 pounds onto Facebook adverts so we can get like some impressions, but people who use us, we prefer that they hear about Zazu from somebody else that they trust.
What we realized early on is that when people started to download the app, after seeing it on Facebook, there was just so limited understanding. And it was just like setting each other for like disappointment. So people be like. Well, I thought it was a mobile app. I thought it was like, or something like that.
Well, it's not. Like read a bit more on the website before you sign up. But because it's so easy for people to just see anything and just, Oh, I like this. And then it ends up in plating, like what you're actually really good at or what people are interested in. So what we do now is just investing a bit in like, uh, developing our community.
So before the pandemic. Would always have, uh, several events, you know, uh, which is last by the way. So people would come here. We'll talk about why having a real time payments system is important. We'll talk about how to keep yourself safe on digital. And the really cool thing about that is we always bring like leaders in this space.
So even if there were like really competitive to us, but if we respected them, they would always invite them. So that was us really nice. Uh, I really enjoy it, but. And I think radio and SMS is great because people trust that it's coming from Zazu, whereas anybody can set up like fake digital advertising.
Tim: [00:47:50] That's fascinating. I had not thought of it like that, but that's, that's really interesting.
Vim: [00:47:56] Yeah.
Perseus: [00:47:59] Like for people to just spoof things and you don't really want to spend like, so it's good to have SMS cause it says. It's coming from Zazu. Uh, and it's good because then people can know the customer service is number too to get in touch with. And if you're coming from a, like a low trust perspective, Where people are really still a bit skeptical about digital, anything, then being for them to be able to know that the Vimla fintech is based on this location. I have been there interacted with the team then. It does a lot of value. And that's why I think, you know, union54, we couldn't really acquire fintechs cause you still need touch points and you need somebody who they understand that if they getting half a percent or a percent or whatever it is that this still have roles and responsibilities that they need to do.
So they are building value for the long term.
Vim: [00:48:58] And so what does the future look like for you, what does the kind of next 10, 15 years, like, fro Zazu
Perseus: [00:49:07] uh, so it's really exciting and also very still, very new that we've been doing this for like five days now, and it still feels like we're launching now. So I think for us, the future is, uh, defining like, uh, A set of values that people are really excited, excited about, and that take us forward to the next 20 30 years.
And one of those is developing the pan African vision that we want to see. So I'm just saying in the next 20 years, we should have union54 doing such and such for people. Uh, and because we're doing these, it's going to have X, Y values or X, Y uh, outcome. So the future is very much how. Do you retake some of these early successes that we're seeing, uh, in Zambia and make some mistakes and Mozambique and make some mistakes elsewhere.
But in the long run, it's going to be worth it because we'll have end up having a platform that can do such and such.
Tim: [00:50:09] It's actually really inspiring that you intended it that way, but it is.
Perseus: [00:50:14] What about you guys? What does the future look like?
Tim: [00:50:19] Well, um, so I'm doing this podcast because I kind of wanted to find out what was new out there. And I, I kind of, I have suddenly realized that I've got a bit, um, They're a small world sport, a bit of a small world view and thought it would be interesting to kind of go and go and talk to people.
I hadn't talked to before, find out about places I haven't found out about before and, and, and communities and ways of thinking. And that's what this, this podcast does. I don't think it necessarily like turns into a business or anything like that. It just like in informs. What I learned, what I learned.
It's more
Perseus: [00:50:59] fun. Well, you're doing something that you're curious about, right? Just like, yeah, that's really nice. And you've Vim, why are you doing this podcast?
Vim: [00:51:09] I like this podcast because I think it brings a different take to the conversations you hear every day. So I assume it's similar to Tim, it is opening up.
Um, My understanding of the world and what's going on. But I think more importantly, the people that listen to that here are very different perspective and understanding of what they assumed to be the norm as well. And so we try, try quite hard to get different voices different and sectors his different understandings onto it.
And really. Shift up what people listen to and what they think is, is their norm. Um, and so, yeah, similarly, the future doesn't know much more different than what it is in terms of the podcast, but outside of the podcast in the future is so uncertain and it excites me.
Perseus: [00:51:58] Cool. I'm very excited for you, bro. I don't think you're going to blend in quite a lot.
Speaking of too. I think it's a good idea.
Tim: [00:52:05] That's been a lot of fun. I mean, you know, we've, we've, we've had some and what's, what's really interesting. And what I love about it is we keep getting recurring themes like this business about building a trusted community. With a mix of online and offline, which is effectively what you've one of the things you said you were doing, right?
We've heard that from three or four people in completely different sectors. And I think that's actually really that sort of thing, those sorts of ideas, it's just kind of, it's really nice to see them from different sectors and how they play out in different sectors. That's been kind of almost the most.
Well, it's both surprising and fun aspect of it is hearing these things and thinking, I recognize this story. We heard that from Chicago, you know?
Perseus: [00:52:50] Yeah. Now I think in this pandemic has shown. You can't live your life on the internet. It's like, it's, it's nice. Um, but when people are sitting at home alone, because they they're unable to go out, they don't like, Oh, I missed that.
I mean, is Facebook like them is like being able to interact with people. The muse, like belonging and the thing, being able to do that, which is why everybody is doing is, uh, four different, uh, products. I think that's like a really nice like able thing, if you're able to get it right. So maybe the social network is, is a bar.
Vim: [00:53:31] I agree. I think you said about changing the way we are and what that really means. Yeah.
Tim: [00:53:39] I mean, you know, sort of what this thing is that the tool we're using to make this recording is it's a little experiment in, are there other ways of doing video calls that have a different flavor to them? Um, you know, it's only a little thing and it's not, again, it's not going to be a huge profit center or anything like that, but, but it was an experiment to see what we could do with.
But video course that would be slightly different and have a different feel to it. Is
Perseus: [00:54:11] this your platform then Rendevous?
Tim: [00:54:13] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's a little side project that I've been doing for the last. So when the pandemic kicked in, I mean, the story here is that I do stuff for IOT, for cameras and things like that.
And when, when China locked down, Right. People stopped shipping IOT devices. So I'm like, well, I've got a few months in which to do something else. So I started building these, these real time, little realtime platforms for what kind of narrow use cases. And this is one of them for the, which I built for the book club.
But then, Vim quite rightly pointed out that it's nice to be able to see people when you're talking to them. So I thought, Hey, well, we'll just tweak it a bit and make it do podcast recordings. And, and that's where we are, but I haven't got rid of the, this is my dad's, um, study his library. Um, so it's like, it's a little bit out of place for modern high-tech conversations, but I haven't got rid of it yet.
So,
Perseus: [00:55:12] no, I think it's a good idea. And it's true. You definitely want to see people end up. going on zoom and you're just speaking to a blank screen. It's nice to be able to read the room once in a while.
Vim: [00:55:24] Yeah. Yeah. That's definitely as well about the conversations we have like this, where it's not, um, business specific to see these people get, it's not, you know, we're not here to have an aim or to reach an objective.
We'll make a decision. It says a chat about the world, and these are even more important to see each other. And because you're not. Okay. With an intent it's I just want to see a smile or a nod people getting excited about it.
Perseus: [00:55:53] Yeah.
Tim: [00:55:56] Well, keep us, keep us posted on how it goes. I'm really, I'm really interested to see how it turns out.
Thanks so much for spending your time on here. It's great.
Perseus: [00:56:07] Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. Cool. Cool.