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Africa: The Informal Source of Innovation for SYCAPAY

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DIOP MOUHAMADOU, Chairman of SYCAPAY tells us about the creation of a secure payment solution and online collection.

How are you and how is your family in these times of COVID-19?

DIOP MOUHAMADOU: Very well thank you, my family and the SYCAPAY family are all doing well.

With the current health situation of COVID-19, we understand how important it is to digitize its activity to continue to deliver service.

The entire SYCAPAY family is mobilized to help our customers and all companies wishing to go digital. We take this opportunity to wish a very happy new year 2021 to all our customers and partners.

Tell us about yourself, your career and how you founded SYCAPAY.

DIOP MOUHAMADOU: With my two other co-founders of SYCAPAY, Ismael SOW and Abdillahi OSMAN, we have spent our careers with software publishers in Europe such as Sage the English editor, and especially supported the emergence and development of e-trade in France and several countries from 1999 to 2014.

In 2015, we identified the need to support the emerging African e-commerce sector. So it was only natural that we turned to the creation of a secure payment solution, and online collection. The SYCAPAY API was born in February 2016, after a year of analysis and work.

How is SYCAPAY innovating?

DIOP MOUHAMADOU: At SYCAPAY, we believe in meaningful innovation. For us, innovating means addressing a need expressed by the local market or a particular client through the most appropriate technology.

For this, we strive to surround ourselves with the best talents and partners in order to bring the best solution to the market.

In addition to innovation, we really focus on transaction security. Moreover, we are proud to announce that SYCAPAY has just obtained PCI-DSS certification at the start of this early 2021.

Our company innovates by listening to the market, to help the large SME, or a very structured bank, but also the lady who sells vegetables at the market (informal activity).

We love going to the market to meet traders to present our work and get their criticism and suggestions. This allows us to meet simple and sometimes complex needs. But needs that meet the reality of the market.

The informal sector inspires us a lot. We identify with informal actors because we have friends and relatives who work there or are self-employed. The informal is our universe simply, we don’t have a distance and a negative interpretation of it like most economic studies.

On the contrary, thousands of people and families depend on these activities: the hairdresser, the Maquis restaurant, the printing house, the loincloth and fabric shop, the tailor next door, the lady who sells the fruit at the market in Cocody or elsewhere….

However, SYCAPAY is also assisting certain banks in the region to create tools and applications to bring together the banking world and the telecom world. The example of the BFREE Wallet ( is a case study of mobile banking innovation with BNI in Côte d’Ivoire.

So we avoid the endless queues at the end of the month at the bank when customers want to withdraw part of their salary in cash to meet expenses. From their Smartphone their money becomes available everywhere in the territory in digital or physical form from an ATM.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected SYCAPAY and how are you dealing with this crisis?

DIOP MOUHAMADOU: Like any business, confinement has deeply affected us because we had to close the premises and find a solution so that our employees are not penalized.

In general, however, the pandemic has boosted our activity as requests arrive every day for subscriptions to our collection solutions.

However, at the start of the pandemic, we experienced a slight drop in the volume of transactions because some of our tour operator customers saw their activity greatly reduced.

We are delighted with a good recovery, in particular thanks to our offers dedicated to PoS (point-of-sale) type trading activities, also artisanal and informal such as hairdressing salons, sewing workshops, in-store sales, etc.

Did you have to make tough choices and what are the lessons learned?

DIOP MOUHAMADOU: Despite the context of the health crisis and the decline in global activity, we have retained our staff and all employees. We hold regular discussion meetings with the whole team to ensure everyone’s good health.

Teleworking is in our DNA like all players in our sector, we do everything to protect the health of our employees and their families.

We also took advantage of this period to work on some substantive projects for which we will be making announcements very soon.

Who are your competitors and how do you plan to do well?

DIOP MOUHAMADOU: At SYCAPAY, We are followers of the Blue Ocean strategy and we believe that there is room for everyone.

Usually, the market decides, we strive to meet our customers and their needs. 4 years ago our sector was nascent now there are more and more players. We are convinced that focusing on providing solutions that truly meet the needs of businesses and users, in general, makes a difference.

The notoriety of SYCAPAY on the market helps us a little because our sector was born with the creation of SYCA SAS in 2016. This gives us an important role, but we must not slow down without having digitized all the possible flows. the turn of the person in general and the turn of companies.

A final word.

DIOP MOUHAMADOU: We encourage all young people to dare to take initiatives and to get started.

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