Kele Okafor: straitPay is a neo-banking technology platform focused on bridging the gap between Africa and the global financial landscape.

June 3, 2024

straitPay is a neo-banking technology platform focused on bridging the gap between Africa and the global financial landscape. With a presence in Europe, Canada, and the US, and recognized as the Best Fintech StartUp Award winner at the London Startup Awards, we are committed to offering innovative solutions for cross-border payments and investment opportunities in African markets. We are committed to simplifying financial interactions within Africa and beyond, empowering individuals and businesses to thrive in an interconnected world.

Tell us about yourself?

Kele brings a wealth of expertise and leadership to straitPay as its Founder. With over a decade as a solicitor, he has experience advising prominent investment banks and utilities, including JP Morgan, BP PLC, EDF PLC, and National Grid PLC. He has honed his skills in navigating complex financial landscapes and driving strategic initiatives for global corporations. His deep understanding of the financial industry, coupled with a passion for innovation and empowerment for Africa, drives straitPay’s mission to revolutionize financial interactions in Africa.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would say to myself to stay present and enjoy the moments in your life on a daily basis. Do your best today and eventually you will learn life is now in the moment.

What problem does your business solve?

straitPay is a neo-banking technology platform focused on bridging the gap between Africa and the global financial landscape. We are committed to offering innovative solutions for cross-border payments and investment opportunities in African markets. We are committed to simplifying financial interactions within Africa and beyond, empowering individuals and businesses to thrive in an interconnected world.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The COVID-19 pandemic was a strange and unsettling time for us all, the pace at which it moved, the lives it touched, those we lost, and the lucky ones who came out the other end, were something we hadn’t ever experienced. Ironically, it allowed us to reach for the pause button, to take a moment, and ask ourselves why? For a lot of us, “why” was about varied personal matters that touched you and me.

Why am I in this job, why don’t I explore the world more, why don’t I appreciate my family more, and a myriad of other topics. For those of us at straitPay and our founder Kele, it was also a time of reflection and deeper conversations, especially around sub-Saharan Africa, notably its economic and developmental challenges. Why couldn’t we take a more direct role in the lives of our loved ones back home, why couldn’t they access health care as readily as Western countries, why couldn’t we invest in our future at the click of a button, why was sending money (remittance) seemingly the only ever answer? straitPay quickly recognised the lack of a smooth financial connection between Africa and Europe, the lack of easily accessible companies, existence of complex protocols, and confusing rules. So, we set out to do something different, believing that there is a better way to interact with Africa beyond just remittances. We decided to create a platform that would make it simpler and more efficient to send your money, invest your money, or spend your money in Africa, on the things that matter to you as an African in a way that works for Africa. In Kele’s words “spending, investing, and interacting with Africa should be easier and more enjoyable, especially because we’re putting back into the motherland”.

What is your magic sauce?

Our magic sauce is the team at straitPay, who simply believe in the vision for Africa. We are different because we offer more than remittance and we are currently the only platform in Africa to offer customers the ability to purchase stocks in Rwanda, Kenya, and Nigeria.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We want to be the recognised payments platform for anyone interested in doing business or investing in Africa. Most importantly, we want to foster greater and closer ties between African countries and make the ease of payments between African nations smoother and easier.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

We found that the market needs a lot of education on the prospects of Africa and the growth opportunity within the continent. We also find that overcoming all the various regulatory hurdles across the continent has been challenging.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

You can download the straitPay application from the Apple and Google Play stores today.

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