Launched in 2015 as a money transfer platform, Senegalese startup Wizall has evolved its model to become a mobile banking tool in its own right.
On the verge of concluding a multi-million raise with BCP, Wizall has just opened its Ivorian subsidiary and is preparing to approach the Malian and Burkinabe markets. At the origin of this great success, the French Sebastien Vetter, former partner of the digital consulting firm Advise Consulting & Technology, and his Congolese associate Ken Kakena, former consultant for the same firm.
Both have supported several telecom operators in the development of their mobile money business in West Africa, before deciding to embark on the adventure. In 2015, they put Wizall on the rails, an application that offers digital vouchers and money transfer operations in Senegal.
The help of Total
If the two partners bring more than 200,000 euros for this launch, they also receive a solid hand from Total, which has invested in the deal several million euros.
“We wanted the support of a big chain, whether it was an oil network or an operator. But Orange had then taken shares in Afrimarket, that we came a little compete with our system of vouchers, so we chose to approach rather Total. Ken Kakena met them, and they agreed to enter the capital of the company from its inception, up to 30%, “said Sebastien Vetter, general manager of Wizall.
Born in France in 1975, the latter went through the ESCE Parisian business school before working in telecoms and IT, then to start consulting. It was for this last activity that he moved to Senegal five years ago.
From B2C to B2B
In September 2017, the platform evolved to become “a real merchant payment tool, to pay bills or buy credit,” says his co-founder.
But the end consumer is no longer the main target of the company, which is primarily companies, NGOs and administrations, to which it offers a dedicated interface to perform many operations: payment of salaries, scholarships study, allowances …
NON-NEGLIGIBLE ASSET OF THIS ECONOMIC MODEL FOR THE FINAL USER: TRANSFER OPERATIONS ARE FREE
In October, Wizall won a contract with a Senegalese construction consortium, which has since been using its services to pay the salaries of its employees. “At first, the company uses the program as a test with 1,500 employees. But in the long term, 2,500 people are affected, “says Sébastien Vetter.
Not insignificant asset of this economic model for the end user: the transfer operations are free. It is at the time of the deposit of the money on the platform, thus with the companies and organizations, that Wizall takes its commission.
Deployment in Ivory Coast
This reorganization led to a significant acceleration of the company: while the platform managed approximately 200,000 euros in circulation in September 2017 and operated 2,000 transactions per month, it now manages more than 3 million euros in circulation, for 100,000 transfers per month. As for turnover, it should increase from 150,000 euros in 2017 to 600 to 800,000 euros in 2018.
The application has been installed 40,000 times and the company has about 50 business customers. Wizall was able to rely on these figures to reassure investors and launch a new multi-million-euro fundraiser from BCP – which should be formalized on December 4, learned Jeune Afrique.
IF WE CAME ON OUR STARTING IDEA, WE HAVE CLOSED SINCE LONG!
In view of this fundraising, the start-up was able to launch, on November 28, the activities of its Ivorian subsidiary, of which Ken Kakena, previously in charge of the B2B market, took the general direction. Currently housed in the offices of Total, the latter will soon settle in its own premises, Plateau.
“We already have half a dozen employees and 1,200 points of sale – where we still have to train traders – and contracts in prospect, especially with a company with 3,000 employees,” says Sebastien Vetter, who hopes see the number of its collaborators – about thirty now – to 400 or 500 within two years.
After Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali will come before the end of the first quarter of 2019. And the company expects to deploy in seven to eight countries before the end of next year.
Regulation “not so constraining”
Asked about the Senegalese regulation, often pointed at as a blockage by Finnish operators active in the country, Sebastien Vetter is far from being categorical: “Even if it could still evolve or be improved, the Senegalese regulation is not not detrimental to our business, and it’s very good that it exists to avoid drifts. But it is true that it was easier for us: our expertise as former consultants in the sector allows us to master this legal framework. ”
On the other hand, the entrepreneur recognizes that he has had to face other difficulties, which have tested his adaptability: “If we compare what we wanted to do, what we did with the launch of the company and what they have done today, the differences are glaring. If we had camped on our original idea, we would have closed for a long time! He laughs.
In addition to the change of model from B to C to B to B, the company has, for example, had to review its communication to adapt it to the realities on the ground. “In the beginning, we were far too pan-African, whereas if we want to reach people in Senegal, it is in Wolof that we must speak,” quotes Sébastien Vetter, for example.
The choice of smartphone
Unlike other mobile money tools that highlight their ability to run on basic phones, offline, Wizall is taking its direction to smartphones. “This is a deliberate choice because the equipment rate is growing rapidly and an application offers much more user-friendliness and ease of use than a complicated system of text messages and codes”, explains Sébastien Vetter .
This does not preclude recipients of a Wizall shipment not equipped to receive their money. “They can receive a message with a code that allows them to withdraw the entire amount in cash at one of our outlets. But those who have a wallet (wallet) can choose to withdraw only a small part or use it in as many operations as they wish, “says the boss of the start-up.