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Meet Akintunde Ajayi, the Mastercard Executive that has never applied for a role in his 18yrs career

Akintunde Ajayi on Richmond Okezie career session
Akintunde Ajayi

My guest on episode II of the career live section is a man that has been there at every milestone of the digital payment transformation in Nigeria’s banking industry. He was there at the beginning, when merchants in Nigeria first used Value Card to accept payments; he was also there at the centre, when the first real time POS transaction was tested and run in Nigeria. With over 18 years accumulated experience in both the banking and payment industries in Nigeria, Akintunde Ajayi has been there, seen it all, and is still a key player in Nigeria’s drive to a full digital banking and cashless economy.

From our first interaction, I realised Mr. Ajayi is merry-hearted, disposed to teach and nurture others. He attributes his career success to clarity of career vision, mentorship received, network kept, and a constant hunger to grow and advance. Before entering the bank, his vision was clear what role he wanted, and the necessary skills required. What makes his story interesting is that his network in the industry has ensured that all the jobs he got where solely by referral and recommendation. He has never made a single job application.

He is very convinced that cash is going away. Cash transactions as we know it in Nigeria will disappear in the coming years, as indicated by the digital trends in the banking and consumer industries. Everything is being moved online. This is already the condition in developed countries, and Nigeria is gradually catching up. Technology is driving the disruption of industries and professions, and in the coming months, thanks to Corona virus, many roles will be made redundant and irrelevant. It is therefore critical that those in non-tech or non-digital roles in banking and other industries continually evaluate their profession and position themselves to acquire the skills needed to adapt and remain relevant.

We talked about the fintech start-ups and the growth of the industry. The Nigerian payment space has seen commendable innovation and start-up activities in the past 5 years with players like Paystack, Flutterwave, Piggyvest, Opay, and more innovating and bringing solutions to payment processing. Mr. Ajayi believes more could be done in the area of peer collaboration.

A little background

Mr. Ajayi started his career as a Business Developer with Cards Technology Ltd in 2002 fresh from National Youth Service in 2001 and moved to Eletronic Payplus shortly after.

In 2006, he left to Head the POS & Web Collection Division at Skye Bank, a position he achieved so much in. We will come to the achievements later. In 2009, he moved from heading the POS & Web Collections to Head the ATM division in Skye Bank in 2009.

He left Skye for UBA in 2013, where he headed the POS & Web division, later restructured and called Payment Acceptance division. Here, he oversaw the division’s activities in 19 countries where the bank operates, including Nigeria.

In 2017, he left UBA for Itex Integrated Services Ltd, where he played the role of Chief Business Development & Innovation officer. His work here was focused on innovation and developing a road map to electronic banking in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

He joined Mastercard West Africa shortly afterwards in 2018, to head the Acceptance division and still holds this position.

On his strides

Mr. Ajayi was part of the team at Eletronic Payments that tested and run the first online real time POS transaction in Nigeria in 2005.

At Skye Bank, among the systems he introduced, was the “POS at Branch” system which was a Smart Withdrawal system that made withdrawal easy, in 2008. Representing the bank, he led the team that automated payments at Airports in Nigeria, work for FAAN and in conjunction with Mavies Ltd, in 2009. In 2010, he was instrumental to the introduction of the offsite ATM system, that saw the bank deploy ATMs to sites outside the bank’s branches; although this new system came with new challenges, Mr. Ajayi and his team reviewed and introduced processes that made the system more effective.

Within 2 years at UBA, Mr. Ajayi introduced Structured Payment Acceptance via POS and Web in 18 countries, in addition to helping the bank move from number 6 to 1 on NIBSS POS records in 15 months.

On the future.

Mr. Ajayi is poised to remain a critical key player in the Payments industry in Nigeria, a strategic advisor and change agent. To this end, moving to Mastercard was the next logical career advancement step for him.

The future is indeed very bright, and I hope to hear more of Mr. Ajayi’s exploits in the banking and payment’s industries in Nigeria.

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