Whenever Serge Boupda returned from Europe to visit his relatives in Cameroon, Serge was frustrated by the need to bring large sums of cash with him. When he returned from Europe, a cashless society, he became increasingly irritated that vendors in his home country still preferred to be paid in cash.
Boupda discovered an opportunity amid his frustrations. He also started a fintech company called Diool to influence consumer behavior.
“(The) Diool idea simply came from the frustrating experience of not being able to purchase an item with anything other than cash when I was in Cameroon,” Boupda told the bird.
While living in Europe, where credit cards and cheques are widely accepted, I was surprised by how many options there were for making payments. Only a few times during my life did I have the opportunity to pay with cash. Things were different, however, in this location. Payments could only be made in cash. What happens when you don’t have enough money to buy something? You have to go to the bank to get some money out of your account, which is extremely frustrating.”
Market research was conducted before Boupda’s inception to learn more about consumer preferences for non-cash payment options. Since it’s difficult to keep track of payments across multiple digital payment services, he discovered that many vendors and merchants prefer physical cash.
“The reconciliation of a great number of payments issued through a variety of mobile money services, as well as other cash sources like banknotes and coins, cheques, and other kinds of tools, is a very complex and time-consuming process, while the risk of making mistakes when reporting figures are very high,” he said.
That’s why Boupda made sure that all of these services were integrated into a single platform.
According to Boupda, the goal of his digital platform, Diool, which he began working on in 2015, is “to allow merchants to pay their suppliers or to be paid by their customers irrespective of the method of payment used by the latter,” he said.
This platform has attracted over 2,000 merchants, who have transacted over $120 million.
Boupda had a good job and a comfortable lifestyle in Europe before he started Diool. Despite the difficulties that come with running a business, he has no regrets about leaving his job and returning to his hometown to start one.
In truth, building a business in Africa is a particularly difficult process, but only Africans can understand how things work here and how to make it. “I believe that these opportunities are specifically designed for Africans,” he said.
A sign of the startup’s success, Boupda raised $3.5 million in February 2021. Lundin Group and other existing investors led the new round of funding. Boupda’s Diool became the third francophone startup to raise more than a million dollars in less than a year with this latest round of funding. An expansion into other countries in West Africa is being considered by the company’s CEO.