On October 12th & 13th 2017, weeks of voting and intense pitch battles culminated at the stage of the African Fintech Awards at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kocela emerged the winner of the Payments and Transfer Company category after an extensive process that also involved the public. It was a moment like no other for the young company.
The hard work and long hours they had put in were finally acknowledged at the global stage. What they had known for a long time, and many had affirmed was finally confirmed: Kocela is the best company in Payments and Transfers in Africa.
Winning the award is no mean feat. The African Fintech Awards is the place where innovative and disruptive FinTech companies are awarded. 6000* finance professionals and 500 handpicked entrepreneurs, bankers and investors meet at this Global stage to expand their network, extend knowledge and develop business. The African Fintech Awards f orms an integrated part of Finance Indaba Africa.
Finance Indaba Africa is the largest conference and expo for finance professionals on the African continent. The Finance Indaba brings together thousands of colleagues, suppliers of technologies, platforms, tools, specialists, CFO's and Africa's most inspiring thought leaders. This year’s event featured the legendary Vusi Thembekwayo among other renowned speakers. In a sense, this award is a collective nod of approval for Kocela from Africa’s Fintech Industry.
Kocela’s journey to victory started with a nomination to this year’s African FIntech Awards. By any standards, this was an impressive achievement. It meant the African Fintech community recognised them as one of the most promising and innovative companies in the Fintech sector. After 2 months of public voting, Kocela emerged at the top of the public vote, clinching “Top in Kenya” and top in their category: Payments and Transfers. They then proceeded to the next stage which was pitching at the African FIntech Awards. Along with 2 other companies, which included powerhouses like Cellulant who won last year’s award, Kocela pitched before a panel of judges.
Once again Kocela emerged victorious. They had impressed not just the public, as they won the public vote again, but a formidable panel of judges that consisted of some of the most respected names in the Fintech space.
Kocela, a newcomer to the African Fintech Awards triumphed over veterans and powerhouses like Cellulant, who had won this award last year. In just one of many ways that prove Kocela has finally come of age, Abel Masai, Kocela CEO shared a stage with his former supervisor at Cellulant. Abel started out his career as an intern at Cellulant after which he left to start Kocela. In barely over 4 years, Abel’s vision for Kocela has been validated.
It’s been absolutely surreal. When we started Kocela 4 years ago, we couldn’t have foreseen the growth we’ve experienced. We are humbled to be awarded the Best Payments and Transfers Company in Africa. It was great to compete on a global stage with the biggest players in Africa, and emerge winners.
...said a visibly elated Abel.
At this point you may be asking, who is Kocela? This company’s products are used by thousands of people daily for starters, the KCB Mobile Banking Application for Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi. Some of their other clients include Standard Media Group, Radio Africa, The Star, Safaricom, Spire Bank, HF Bank, Credit Bank among many others.
Kocela was one of the first companies in East Africa to start building apps for smartphone users and have consistently set the pace in the mobile application space. From the very beginning, Kocela is nimble, innovative and efficient, challenging more established players in the market. The KCB mobile app is the leading banking app in East and Central Africa. It is the most downloaded banking application with the most active users and has consistently gotten positive reviews by the public. This application triggered a revolution in the banking industry, forcing everyone else to adapt and evolve their business models.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book, David and Goliath says,
There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources- and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal of the former.
The financial industry has been in existence for centuries. The technology industry has established players who have been providing solutions for decades. In just a little over 4 years, Kocela, an underdog has managed to match the “big boys” toe to toe. Their advantage is greatly just that, that they were an underdog. They needed to differentiate themselves from everyone else in the market. How did a little-known company make such grand strides in such a short time? Abel’s answer is simple and an indicator of the company's success,
We've always taken a user-focused approach in building disruptive solutions for Africa; it was great to see our efforts recognized at such a global stage.
Kocela’s key differentiator is its user centred approach which places the user at the centre of the solution delivery. This approach places the highly nuanced customer needs at the forefront of the innovation process, leading to more relevant solutions. Kocela’s fresh thinking from outside the industry combined with their healthy defiance of traditional constraints led to the emergence of a service that the market was ready for.
They have been at the forefront of the mobile app industry in Kenya and East Africa, shaping the industry and influencing the market. Having captured Kenya and with a significant present in East Africa, the obvious direction for Kocela is venturing into additional markets in Africa and eventually going global. Kocela has been at the forefront of the mobile space in Kenya and East Africa, shaping the industry.
Kocela’s products include mobile banking/payments platform which allows financial institutions(banks, mobile operators, SACCOs, micro-finance institutions) to avail their suite of service through mobile(access via mobile app/web/USSD) and with backend tools for administration, predictive analytics, reports and reconciliation. This platform combines M-Pesa, PesaLink, mVisa and Masterpass to allow customers to pay directly to any bank, mobile wallet or mobile money merchant.
Kocela also offers a mobile lending/savings platform which allow financial institutions and companies to offer mobile loans to their customers. It also includes automated tools for credit-scoring, loan initiation and loan disbursement and finally, a payments/collections platform that enables institutions, schools, rental companies to make and receive payments. This platform allows for bulk payments, collection of payments, tracking of payments, reports, reconciliation and invoicing. This platform is being used by KCB to power LipaKaro for schools.
When asked who Kocela credits for its success, Abel says,
We thank KCB Bank and all our other partners for the great support they've given us - they are a big part of the Kocela story. I'd also like to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the great love and support we received from those who believe in us - our families, friends, colleagues and partners who voted for us and drummed up support for us.
If you’re looking for a payments and transfer solution, Kocela’s reputation for excellent work has earned them a 100% client retention rate. They have a strong, capable team with the ability to deliver solutions on time, within schedule, within budget and tools that customers actually enjoy using, your mobile application might just be Kenya’s next great story.