In Nigeria, only about 35% of the population has access to financial services, the booming industry accounts for 63% of the 1.37 billion dollars in funds raised in Nigeria in 2021. Like every other financial institution, Kippa ensures a reliable and trusted platform is built for our customers. We join Mr. Tokunbo Ojo, the backend lead at Kippa to enlighten us about the journey towards building Kippa’s payment infrastructure.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Tokunbo Ojo. I'm currently the backend lead at Kippa. I'm also the tech lead for the payment product at Kippa. I'm a full-stack software engineer with a career span of about seven years, most of which have been in the FinTech space or FinTech-related products. I've been opportune to work on both government projects and the private sector.
As the Payment Tech lead at Kippa, what does your job entail?
A technical lead manages a team of technical personnel usually but not limited to a software product organization to drive the development and delivery of software. In this case, leading the technical aspect for the payment product at Kippa. My responsibilities often include the design, architecture, and implementation of software products with the team.
What inspired building the payments products part of Kippa?
Our goal at kippa has always been to solve the challenges encountered by small-medium scale businesses in Africa. Kippa facilitates how they start up, run and manage their business anywhere in Africa, quickly and efficiently. Some of the biggest challenges faced by SMEs include payment collections, debt recovery, separation of personal from business expenses, financial literacy, etc. We wanted to ensure faster debt recovery, seamless payment collection and help business owners gain meaningful insights into their business performance. That is how the idea was birthed.
How was the experience building the product?
It was different from other things I had worked on before then and was as tasking as it was interesting. Like other startups, we’ve had our good days and bad days…Lol. While we had worked on similar projects, with Kippa, we had a unique opportunity to build a product that directly solves the concerns of a niche market we had created for ourselves. It required a lot of learning, especially as regards government regulations, customer management, scaling our architecture, security, etc. We quickly had to adapt to the ever-changing business requirements and customer needs. In all, the journey has been quite interesting and we are improving the product daily to better serve our customers. It was not a walk in the park.
In layman's terms, what is the technology behind building a payment service like this?
Wow. That is a broad question. A variety of technology and personnel are required to build a successful payment infrastructure. This could range from the choice of programming language to more complex architectural decisions. The major goal is the high availability and scalability of your services. At kippa we run a microservice architecture that allows us to easily scale when necessary and use the technology that’s best suited for each service. This can include decisions around language and frameworks, data storage, caching, communication between services, queues, security, logging, monitoring, etc. A qualified team including engineers, product managers, fraud analysts, customer support, compliance officers, tech support, etc is also very essential to the success of the product.
What mistakes did Kippa make and what solutions were proffered?
Omo…We have made our fair share of mistakes. One of the more vivid ones involved the communication between microservices, especially when processing operations that span across multiple services. Our v1 implementation wasn’t optimal and it cost us. I’ll stop there cause I don't want to go full nerd on you. We realized our mistake and moved very quickly to resolve this by implementing a message bus for communication across our services. Looking back, we can laugh about them now because we have learned and improved on them.
In your opinion, what are the most important stakeholders when building a payment team?
First things first, everyone is important! So I’ll try to be as encompassing as possible. The Product Managers, Engineers, Designers, QA, Customer Success, Fraud/Risk, and Finance.
You cannot compromise any of this in the building stage.
How did you secure the Payment infrastructure?
At kippa, security is something we take very seriously as it involves processing payment transactions for our customers. Being a fintech outfit naturally draws fraudsters and people looking to exploit our services. At Kippa we take a proactive measure to security, which means security is a core part of any feature, service, or release associated with Kippa.
We also ensure that both communications between internal services and third-party services are secure.
Lastly, security is a continuous process of evaluating, assessing, and applying fixes for identified vulnerabilities to ensure that the confidentiality and integrity of our system are not compromised.
Have you been able to accomplish set goals with the payment product?
Yes. Our payments ecosystem is fully functional and includes a variety of services including payment collection, transfers, etc, that support businesses. The goal remains to help businesses thrive and we are relentlessly working to better the experience for our customers.
There is a growing need to solve problems using Fintech apps in Nigeria, but building one with similar infrastructure to Kippa can only be done if all of the mentioned tips are taken into consideration. Kippa still boasts of having the simplest accounting tool for SMEs, ensuring seamless payment and free business tools such as invoice and debt reminders. Its business registration product, Kippa Start, has been providing registrations for thousands of businesses effortlessly. In addition, the agency banking product, Kippa Pay is providing business owners with a completely new line of income and growing the number of merchants in Africa using technology. We’re launching other products in a bid to continue serving our users and accomplish our set goals.