"Chasing Commerce With Jordan" continues its insightful monthly interview series, bringing together the CEO of Shipbubble and prominent industry leaders. In this edition, Jordan Ajibola engages in a compelling conversation with Bankole Alao, the visionary founder of Peppa.io. Their dialogue delves into the dynamic landscape of commerce, exploring prevailing trends, overcoming obstacles, and envisioning the promising prospects that lie ahead. Join us as we unravel the stories, challenges, and triumphs at the intersection of technology, business, and innovation.

Jordan Ajibola: Hi Banky. How are you doing? How is business and everything?

Bankole Alao: That's a trick question, right? (Laughs). I'm fine. Business is slow, but it's progressing. I guess it comes with the terrain of being a business owner. We're never quite satisfied with whatever progress you're making. You always strive for more.

Jordan Ajibola: I totally agree. Same here. We're never satisfied, and people always make you remember that you shouldn't be satisfied. Can we start with an introduction? Tell us about yourself and about Peppa.

Bankole Alao: My government name is Bankole. I am the founder of Peppa.io. At Peppa, our mission is to make commerce work for everyone. This means we're involved in many aspects of commerce to ensure it makes sense for everybody from an experiential point of view. Peppa currently provides tools for small, medium, and large enterprise owners to excel in the commerce space. We offer payment solutions for buyers and a storefront product for sellers. Notably, every payment through our platform is backed by purchase protection. That's our focus today, but there's no telling what we will be about tomorrow.

Jordan Ajibola: Good. For the readers, Peppa was one of our early marketplaces integrated in 2022, so we've been working together for some time. Now, let's dive into what made you chase commerce and how you found yourself in this field.

Bankole Alao: I would say it's serendipity. I never set out looking for what I'm doing today. I had a painful experience where I paid for an item but never received it or got my money back. This wasn't unique to me; many face similar situations. Legitimate business owners suffer because they get painted with the same brush as fraudsters. My aim is to correct this imbalance and ensure people can sell confidently without compromising their enterprises.

Jordan Ajibola: It's a significant problem. Paying for something online and not receiving it has been an issue since 2015. I'm glad you're addressing it. What about the challenges you face? When was Peppa founded, and how did you evolve from an e-commerce storefront to offering payment solutions?

Bankole Alao: We started around 2017, and the journey wasn't easy. The market wasn't ready initially, and payment technology wasn't as advanced. We experimented with different approaches, from payment links to storefronts. We learned from each iteration, and today we focus on letting people do things the way they're used to. Along the way, we identified logistics as a pain-point, leading us to partner with Shipbubble.

Jordan Ajibola: Your resilience is admirable. Selling a product to a business is challenging, especially when they can't see how it adds value. What keeps you going?

Bankole Alao: Well, that resilience doesn't put money in my account (laughs), but thank you. The pain of losing money firsthand and the belief that what we're doing can change the landscape keep me going. I go through valleys of doubt like any entrepreneur, but I'm stubborn in pursuing what I have in mind.

Jordan Ajibola: (laughs) I've made a mental note not to steal your money. On a serious note, how did Covid-19 impact Peppa, and how did you adapt?

Bankole Alao: In 2020, we were questioning our consumer focus and exploring bigger enterprises. We did a lot of cold pitching but didn't experience the expected boom. However, we secured our first enterprise deal, providing fuel and validation for our journey.

Jordan Ajibola: Impressive. What drives you, especially in the face of challenges?

Bankole Alao: The pain of losing money and facing scepticism initially drove me. The interest from a big financial player injected fresh belief. As a leader, my job is to make the team believe in climbing Everest even with one leg. My personal experiences and the knowledge that rejection is part of the journey drive me.

Jordan Ajibola: Your determination is evident. Let's talk more about the product. You're essentially selling trust. How has the trust journey been with your customers, especially now that you're backed by a big financial player?

Bankole Alao: Selling trust in a sceptical market is challenging. We learned that having credentials, a track record, and validation from regulators is crucial. We shifted from being the security guy to offering a product that ensures safe transactions. Our goal is to build trust infrastructure for a reversal of the current cash-on-delivery to prepayment ratio in Nigeria.

Jordan Ajibola: Trust is key, especially in markets like ours. How has Peppa leveraged data for decision-making in the e-commerce space?

Bankole Alao: We use data to review products and value propositions based on client requests and market needs. Special requests outside our current offerings lead to tailored solutions. When clients have unique needs, we build products for them and, if feasible, productise those features for other clients.

Jordan Ajibola: Insightful. Lastly, what are the ambitions and hopes for Peppa.io in the next 5 to 10 years?

Bankole Alao: Our goals for the next 3 to 5 years include powering peer-to-peer payments across international markets and enabling trusted commerce transactions, aiming to reverse the current cash-on-delivery to prepayment ratio. We want to be a significant player in this space, partnering with big financial institutions and reshaping the industry.

Jordan Ajibola: Those are ambitious goals. We wish you the best, Banky. Thank you for this insightful chat.

Bankole Alao: Thank you, Jordan, for this initiative. Sharing stories of those driving growth in the commercial sector is essential. This is our own “trenches” (laughs).

Jordan Ajibola: (laughs) Have a lovely day, Banky.

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