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The Ndichu twins, from Australia with technology

Techies Paul and Edward aka Eddie Ndichu are known for many things, notably their contribution to Africa’s financial technology evolution.

The baby-faced twins honed their skills in Australia, with Eddie graduating at the famed Murdoch University in Perth, while Paul cutting his teeth at Curtin University.

Still, the journey towards offering technology solutions to blue-chip firms has been anything but straight forward for the look-alike brothers.

Their dad passed on when they were still in campus and at some point Eddie had to work as a flair mixologist, adept at fixing great cocktails using his skills at many a private party and numerous bars, for upkeep and to offset fees arrears.

“The belief is that the foundation has to be strong for the building to stand on its own. My background helped alot to the person I am today,” he says.

He retained the job, for the income, even after landing a standard 9 to 5 software analyst job at construction technology company – Click Home, where he configured software on possibly one of the first ever hand held-sized smartphone, the Pocket PC / Personal Digital Assistant.

After sometime working with mobile devices in Africa, he returned to Nairobi to hunt for a job.

His break came when he took up a management trainee position at a leading cement manufacturer and rose to the regional sales manager, tasked with improving the supply chain, with an original organizational plan to deploy laptops in the field.

He would soon join Standard Chartered Bank, where he rose to Regional Head Digital, with a duty to launch online services, and oversee mobile lending. It is here where he lead mobile money integrations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana & Nigeria.

Kenya’s largest bank KCB was his next stop, as the Head of Digital Financial Services and Mobile Payments. The team he now on heads manages over 80% of the bank’s customer base, processing upto 60% of the Bank’s total transactions and 90% of the Bank’s total loans, all on mobile.

Paul, meanwhile, who comes across as the more private cum corporate twin.

While Eddie took to mixing drinks, Paul became a cash in transit security agent.

He later worked in economic development for the government of Australia before immersion into fintech start when he landed a job at Cellulant – a now leading mobile commerce company across Africa, as the Chief Business Officer.

Here, he lead the charge in building out the SMS and USSD user experiences that by and large formed the foundations for what we presently identify as the mobile banking suites that often have mobile applications as an additional channel.

He then joined Standard Bank Group (Stanbic Bank) as the Head charged with digital banking, strategy and payments, where he drove the transformation of core channels and service bundling to digital. At the same time he represented the Bank as the Vice Chair of National Payments at KBA (Kenya Bankers Assosication) in building the National Payments Systems today known as Pesalink.

The startup bug bit shortly after and in a horizontal shift he joined the fledgling ‘on demand taxi’ service Easy Taxi (Jumia Group) that was hot on the heels of first to market and more popular global juggernaut Uber as the Managing Director.

Paul then transitioned to the new entrant Little, a service by Safaricom in ‘on demand taxi’. He stayed on as Principal Consultant for several months before taking up his latest position.

He also sat as the CEO of Interswitch East Africa, part of the 15 year old Interswitch Group that is majority owned by Helios Capital. Interswitch was Africa’s first fintech unicorn valued at over $ 1 Billion built by it’s Founder Mitchell Elegbe and works with over 100 financial institutions across Africa.

As digital payments ecosystem becomes saturated and increasingly commoditized, Paul says their service evolution, at least for East Africa has seen them look at new business lines where they are building out solutions in key verticals in Telecommunications, Banking and Retail.

They also divested from the business of owning and running automated teller machines which came with PayNet Group buyout, to simply digital financial services and digital commerce.

Paul has been nominated for The All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) 2017 that ‘honors business excellence and leaders who have made a considerable impact on their industry and community’ under the category of East Africa Young Business Leader, a testament to his decades worth of passion in building and nurturing sustainable businesses.