Fintech Okra ventures into cloud services

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

Nigerian fintech known for its APIs facilitating access to customer data by banks and financial service providers, Okra, is expanding into cloud infrastructure.

This move aims to provide local businesses with a cost-effective and reliable alternative to foreign cloud services such as AWS and Azure, particularly appealing in Nigeria’s high inflation and interest rate environment.

According to a senior employee quoted in March, Okra’s decision to venture into cloud services aligns with its strategy to diversify revenue streams amid market research efforts.

While Okra’s CEO, Fara Ashiru, declined to comment on the expansion, the company joins a burgeoning group of local cloud service providers catering to startups, large corporations, and government agencies. Other players in this space include Nobus Cloud Services, MainOne Cloud, Web4Africa, Galaxy Backbone, and Layer3 Cloud.

In Africa, the cloud computing market is competitive yet sizable, with businesses willing to invest in reliable service offerings.

Okra, originally operating in open finance through its banking APIs, recently discontinued its Balance, Income, and Transaction products, aimed at aiding digital lenders in credit assessment and loan repayment facilitation, citing a lack of viability.

Concerns over revenue transparency among open finance startups persist, compounded by the slow regulatory progress on open banking standards despite the recent adoption by Nigeria’s central bank in March 2024. This regulatory delay has prompted some fintechs to collaborate directly with banks to streamline APIs, enhancing service reliability.

Okra’s approach includes leveraging partnerships with banks to ensure standardized APIs ahead of full regulatory enforcement, thereby improving operational dependability. Despite challenges, including market size limitations and competitive pressures from well-funded rivals like Mono and Stitch, Okra remains optimistic about its strategic expansion into cloud services and continued growth in the fintech sector.

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