Nigeria’s pioneer financial technology and human capital management company, SystemSpecs, recently undertook a brand refresh that is expected to greatly impact the way the innovative house of technology brands conducts business. In this chat with CHIMA AKWAJA, the managing director of the firm, John Obaro narrates the revamping of the corporate identity of the firm, the features of its newly launched product and its plans for the future.
Can you shed light on the strategic reasoning behind the recent spate of activities surrounding your brand?
We have been in business for 28 years as an organisation that delivers innovative payment and HR technology solutions to individuals and businesses across Africa. Having retained the same corporate identity since inception, our new strategy as a business has particularly informed our decision to now undergo a thorough brand refresh to reposition our corporate brand for the future. In doing so, we chose a unique palindromic date, 02.02.2020, to initiate the process. As it stands, not only has our corporate identity changed to reflect our business aspirations and cultural heritage, we have also launched a new product, Paylink.ng, to accelerate the growth of microbusinesses and have also relocated to our new corporate headquarters. However, our values of ethics and integrity, dependence on God for success, friendship with our customers, open family-based relationships, partnership with our neighbours and innovation and diligence in the pursuit of excellence remain the same.
What is the rationale for the new logo and why did SystemSpecs decide to replace the old one?
The new logo, simply put, represents the past, present and future of our business. The three dots—in increasing proportions—above the inscription of our name represent our progression as a company that commenced operations in Nigeria, to one with footprints on the continent of Africa, then emerging as a global leader in the technology space. That is our ambition for the future of SystemSpecs. Furthermore, the primary decision that led to the full lettering of our name is to ensure maximum brand recall in the minds of stakeholders and declare to the public that we possess staying power. Finally, with regards to the colour utilised for the logo, we decided on green and black because black signifies strength, integrity and solid character while green is associated with life and growth. The decision to change our brand identity was deliberate; the identities of our products have changed over time and we knew the time was ripe for the identity of the parent company to also reflect our current realities and readiness for the future.
You mentioned Paylink.ng earlier as a product developed for microbusinesses, what exactly constitutes the product?
Paylink, as the name denotes, is an innovative way of receiving payment through a personalised web link. It affords individuals and businesses, including those that primarily operate primarily on social media, the opportunity to receive payment seamlessly without the security and psychological fears associated with giving out personal or business account details. Using Paylink by Remita is so easy as this can be done within a minute, after which users can start receiving funds from home or abroad into their accounts. Especially with its adaptability to social media, Paylink also services such needs as donations to NGOs and religious organisations, event-related collections like payments for aso ebi, contributions for family and friends, and crowdfunding. One of the unique benefits of Paylink is that by providing ease of funds collection to SMEs, it becomes a lot easier for them to reach a larger market, get paid by anyone anywhere even outside Nigeria and ultimately scale. Businesses that, for instance, run on Instagram or Facebook, would similarly be able to convert their profiles to a one-stop shop, where not only would their customers be able to check out products or services in which they are interested, but also be able to easily pay by clicking on the seller’s customised payment links within any of the social media platforms.
There is a huge market for Paylink.ng, from a consumer’s perspective. How easy is it to set up and how secure is the platform?
Paylink.ng was developed with simplicity and ease-of-use in mind. The process of registering on Paylink takes just about a minute and it is configured such that you need no advanced technology skill to set up or use. All the needed details for a transaction can be easily inputted and the link can also be customised to reflect business name, logo and link (e.g. paylink.ng/Lizziesbags). Once such a link is sent to the payer and it is clicked, every detail required to conclude the transaction would be displayed. This link can be shared on any and every possible platform including social media channels, WhatsApp and even email. The payer can then proceed to pay into your preferred account using their debit card USSD or other payment options. In addition, the security of Paylink.ng is top-notch safeguarding the data of users las it sits over the multi-layered and robust security features of our Remita solution that’s been in existence for over 15 years. For us at SystemSpecs, security across all our solutions is of top priority and we keep reaching for the heights in this regard.
How has SystemSpecs fared outside of Nigeria, particularly in terms of the reception of your product brands?
Countries across the continent are often impressed at the features and capabilities of our products and regularly express interest in exploring how our solutions can make their work and life better. Our human capital management solution, Human Manager, has performed admirably outside the shores of Nigeria. It is tested and trusted by many multinationals with operations in a number of African countries. With its recent reinvigoration, HumanManager is expected to even bolster our presence in new and existing markets. Our major focus was to ensure Remita becomes a major force to reckon with here in Nigeria and then begin to explore taking it out to other African countries. You will begin to hear more about this in the coming months. As a nation, we need to put a lot more support behind our local content with a view to exporting them to other African nations as well as other parts of the world. It is no secret that Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of talent; what is required now are concerted efforts by both federal and state governments to foster conducive environments for businesses to thrive and take their innovations well beyond Nigeria. This call is not lost on the government and we applaud their commitment in providing an enabling environment for businesses and ensuring that priority is given to homegrown content but if we are to attain the desired status as a nation, we must intensify those efforts. The presidential Executive Order no. 5 and the improvements the country has made on the global ease-of-doing business index augur well for the future of businesses, we only hope that these efforts are sustained and that we have measurable results to show for it.
You turned 61 last year, when would you assume your rightful place as the chairman of the board?
I have stated in the past that the sole reason why I work at my age is on account of the love that I have for my job. I love working on innovative projects and contributing to the development of not only the technology sector but human capital. I will resign as Managing Director without fear of the future the moment I develop another passion. We have a structure in place capable of running for generations to come without any input from my end. Our culture and values as an organisation permeate our processes thereby influencing our employees and creating the coherent family-based environment we desire. On our management team, we currently have four Executive Directors with varying expertise that can lead the company in my absence. Besides, talks of assuming the position of Board Chairman are premature as our current Chairman, Dr. Christopher Kolade, has occupied the position for the past decade, and he does a great job. Moreover, the title of Chairman is rather heavy, and I do not think I am ready for it as yet; I just enjoy giving directions on software technology projects, think up new things and have the younger generation take it up.
When would SystemSpecs get listed on the stock exchange?
To be honest, I did not give much thought to it until the commencement of the FGN TSA project. Developing solutions and innovative products for me will always be a passion and to the glory of God, we have found success in it. We were not on the public radar prior to the TSA project and everyone suddenly wanted to know more about us. However, we have come to a realisation that de-risking the business might not be a bad idea. Furthermore, there are individuals who would blatantly refuse to invest in companies except they are publicly listed. In light of the foregoing, we engaged the services of consultants to provide us with a roadmap on the best possible route to go public. Despite that, we are not in a hurry to list on the stock market. We need to evaluate the progress of similar companies that have listed on the market before us. Such insight would probably enable us better understand market acceptance of companies in our sector. In all, we do not have a date for public listing, but we are considering some form of ownership diversification.
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