Paystack: one of the most important Nigerian startups to date
Built on a pragmatic yet ambitious vision, Paystack is now widely considered to be one of the most consequential African startup success stories of this past decade.
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The Paystack story begins with two computer science graduates from Nigeria’s Babcock University, Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi. Shola got the initial idea for Paystack while working as a consultant for Nigerian banks, building software for them. He realized that he was able to charge his card directly from the software he built, disintermediating the many steps he thought were required to do so.
He went on to hypothesize that this system could be used by Nigerian merchants to easily accept a wide variety of payment methods. Until then, most of the so-called payment gateways/processors such as Interswitch were built with a focus on large companies, making them too complex and expensive for the traditional Nigerian SMB to integrate. Shola decided he could change that by building Paystack, a multi-channel payment processor for Nigerian merchants enabling them to accept all forms of local and international payment methods.
Understanding the future success of Paystack requires grasping the potency and dire need for their product, but also both founders’ pedigree. Ezra had spent almost a decade working in a variety of tech roles in Nigeria while Shola had already expressed his propensity to entrepreneurship a couple of years prior.