Interswitch hit by major resignation as Verve CEO quits
by IHEANYI NWACHUKWU
November 20, 2017 | 6:36 pm| | | Start Conversation
credit cards on table
In a cautionary tale about how not to manage success, Charles Ifedi, CEO of Verve International, who is also the divisional CEO of Interswitch Limited, a Nigeria-based payments-processing company, has resigned and would be leaving at the end of this year, BusinessDay can disclose.
Sources tell BusinessDay that the resignation of Ifedi, who is always excited about Cards, Fintech, seamless payments and eCommerce Innovation and Internationalisation, creates a very big hole in the boardroom of Interswitch Group because he has been the CEO of Verve International since its inception.
“Ifedi is super smart and known as the father of Quickteller and Verve in Interswitch Group,” a source familiar with the matter tells BusinessDay.
Quickteller is one of Interswitch online payments platforms.
BusinessDay gathers that discontent is brewing in the payments processing firm largely as a fallout from its rapid success and growth.
The sources say that about three months ago, Interswitch got some investor from the UK to make a strategic investment and certain shares were sold, leading to staff getting bumper payouts from 25 percent of individual shares vested.
Shortly after this, staff of Interswitch began to resign in droves. BusinessDay has learnt that over 10 percent of all staff (about 55 out of 550) have left since that time, with most of them going to banks and other Fintech companies.
In response, Interswitch made aggressive recruitments from most banks to replace staff that left the organisation. Insider sources disclose that this development in itself caused resentments among the remaining staff.
“They see the new joiners as overpaid, but not smart or hardworking enough,” a second source says.
Interswitch planned an initial public offering (IPO) in London and Lagos for 2016 aimed at expanding into new African markets. It had discussed the IPO sales with some foreign banks including Standard Bank Group, Bank of America and Barclays plc.
The share sale to raise, as much as $1 billion, is now expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
It was delayed because equity markets were not as “favourable as we would have liked,” Interswitch’s divisional CEO for switching and processing, Akeem Lawal, said in an interview in September.
“We will come back to it because it is an important part of our strategy,” Lawal said, saying “it will happen before the end of 2019.”
Interswitch uses a ‘switching’ infrastructure to connect the different banks in Nigeria and provides technology for ATM cards.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) noted that a total volume of 304.307 million transactions valued at N22.01 trillion were recorded in first quarter (Q1) of 2017, as data on Electronic Payment Channels in the Nigeria Banking Sector revealed.
ATM transactions dominated the volumes, recording 179,000,000 transactions valued at N1.50 trillion in Q1 2017. Interswitch has over 11,000 ATMs on its network. Verve is Nigeria’s most used payment card, accounting for over 18 million of the 25 million cards in circulation in the country.
Verve International is a pan-African financial technology and payment card brand owned by Interswitch Group. It was founded in 2008, as a subsidiary of Interswitch and in 2013 became an autonomous business entity in a restructuring exercise.
Helios Investment Partners LLP, a London-based private equity group, remains the majority shareholder of Interswitch. Earlier this year, TA Associates, a global growth private equity firm, acquired a minority interest in same company.
Others are South Africa’s Adlevo Capital Managers LLC and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a unit of the World Bank.
Recently, the company launched a $10 million (about N3.6bn) e-payment fund for start-ups to jump start disruptive business concepts in Africa’s payment space.
A First Class Honours graduate of Computer Science, and the 2007 Cranfield MBA Winner of the Odgers Prize in Leadership and Management, Ifedi led the development of the business plan for Interswitch in 2001, and was one of the founding management team of the company. His resignation marks the most senior departure from Interswitch in recent time since its existence in 2002.
At Interswitch, he headed the teams that developed all Interswitch products (product managers and software developers), led private sector and public sector focused sales teams, oversaw the consumer business teams, forged alliances with partners and managed acquisitions and expansion into several markets.
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