Serge Boupda recalled his frustration of having to carry large amounts of cash on him anytime he returned from Europe to visit his relatives in Cameroon. Returning from Europe, a cashless society, he became increasingly frustrated that vendors in his home country stilled preferred to be paid with cash.
Amidst his frustration, Boupda saw a market gap. And in an attempt to change behavior, he founded Diool, a fintech startup that recently raised millions.
“(The) Diool idea simply came from the frustrating experience of not being able to purchase an item with anything other than cash when I was in Cameroon,” Boupda told bird.
“In Europe, where I was living, there are so many means of payment – credit cards, cheques, etc. – that one can use. I rarely had an occasion to pay with cash. But here, things were quite different. Only cash payments were accepted. When you don’t have enough cash and you want to buy something, you cannot use your credit card or anything similar, you have to go to a bank to withdraw some money, which is very frustrating.”
Prior to starting the company, Boupda undertook a market survey to understand consumer behavior when it comes to non-cash payments. He found out that many vendors and merchants prefer physical cash because of the difficulties in the management of cash flows as payments take place simultaneously on different digital payment services.
“The reconciliation of a great number of payments issued through a variety of mobile money services, as well as other cash sources like banknotes and coins, cheques, and other kinds of tools, is a very complex and time-consuming process, while the risk of making mistakes when reporting figures are very high,” he explained further.
With these findings in mind, Boupda ensured that his fintech integrated those multiple services into a single platform.
“Diool is a digital platform whose aim is to allow merchants to pay their suppliers or to be paid by their customers whatever the means of payment used by the latter,” Boupda said of his platform that he started working on in 2015.
Diool has signed up over 2,000 merchants, who have transacted more than $120 million via its platform.
Prior to starting Diool, Boupda had a good job and comfortable life in Europe. Despite the challenges associated with his business, he does not regret quitting his job to return home and start a business.
“Let us say the truth, to build a business in Africa is particularly a difficult process but on the other hand, only we Africans can understand how things work here and how to make it. There are so many opportunities here in Africa and I think that those opportunities are made for us Africans,” he said.
As indication that his startup is achieving success, Boupda in February 2021 raised $3.5 million. The funding round was led by Lundin Group and other existing investors. With that raise, Boupda’s Diool became the third francophone startup to raise over a million in less than a year. The tech CEO is now exploring the possibility of expanding operations to other countries in West Africa.