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  • Elsie Russell

FinTech Female Fridays: Stephany Zoo, Head of Marketing, Branding, and Communications, Aza

What made you pivot from marketing in non-financial roles to marketing at FinTech companies?

My interest has always been in B2B marketing, as I enjoy the complexity and product focus. With consumer marketing, the motivations and triggers can be relatively simple, but understanding the interplay of motivation between the individual and the company in the decision-making process is fascinating. Technical industries, regardless of whether it is finance or healthcare, IoT or SaaS, need professionals like me that focus on strategic communications. 

Aza is a market maker for African currencies. Is the company looking to expand into other sectors? Where does Aza see further growth opportunities?

Our focus and vision is to accelerate business for emerging markets through innovative

digital infrastructure, and we will continue to prioritize emerging markets. We offer our

API publicly, which enables clients to deal with volatile exotic currencies and tricky integrations, and give companies access to the African continent when they otherwise would not be considered. We empower African currency direct to African currency exchanges and reduce the dollar reliance in frontier markets.

Through this, we have managed to cut costs by up to 50% for our customers, reducing

their cost of operations. Many of the SMEs we serve have been excluded from global

markets because banks do not prioritize them for liquidity or other services, forcing them

to rely on unreliable options such as black markets. Now they can grow their cross-

border business more reliably and securely.

We are looking to aggressively grow in Southern Africa, North Africa, and the Middle

East in the next couple of quarters.

How does Aza compare to its competitors and what differentiates them from its competitors?

  • Legitimize Black Markets: Liquidity matching is not a new concept in the continent, but mostly in the black market. With meticulous technology and fervent lobbying, we have managed to break through to this both legally and compliantly and have disrupted the traditional correspondent banking systems for FX.

  • Hybrid Financial Infrastructure: Rather than building from scratch and excluding even more players, we leverage existing systems to scale faster and increase access more readily.

  • Increased Financial Interoperability: African financial markets are fragmented, with banks, mobile money, cash, and credit card systems all acting separately. Our API ties all these systems together and allows seamless collections and payouts, simplifying cross-border payments in the continent.

How has your branding and marketing strategies changed during the pandemic and social distress? What types of marketing strategies are you using to continue to brand Aza?

A lot of B2B marketing relies on trade conferences and publications, but we are still very digital-focused. Like many other companies, our webinar series has been able to take off during COVID-19, and we have seen a lot of engagement. Given AZA’s unique position at the cross-section of multiple industries managing their FX, our webinars provide valuable insights to companies in Africa who have suffered as a result of COVID-19. To date, we have hosted nearly 2000 registrants over a wide range of topics, including the Delay in AfCFTA, open banking, leveraging digital infrastructure, customer authentication, and African debt.

Where do you predict marketing and branding for FinTech companies in your sector, in Kenya, in the next 6-12 months due to COVID and social distress?

Considering most Fintech’s are digital, and many governments have imposed cashless regulations, I would say this is a good time for the industry. As the financial sector can be traditional and difficult to change, COVID-19 has been instrumental in showing the importance of working with innovative partners and the focus on customer digitalization. A number of our potential banking partners who had previously been sluggish to collaborate have accelerated their cooperation after seeing the necessity of working with Fintech's in a post-COVID world.

Reach out to Stephany on LinkedIn.

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