Dashed Hopes of Dashing Users of Dash Mobile App

Dash founder and CEO, Prince Boakye Boampong

Rarzack Olaegbe

“With Dash, these travellers can make purchases without having to change currencies or set up accounts whenever they leave their countries of origin. “We’re taking a page from AliPay and PayTm by building features that will make the lives of our users easier without having to switch from different providers.”

You cannot always win. It is impossible. Even if you are the best at what you do, you would lose. Sometimes. That is the story of a woman who called off her own wedding. The bride had called off her wedding a few days before it was to be formalised. Because the groom overstepped his bounds. What did he do? He humiliated her in public.

He drenched her with water at an eatery during a meeting. He did it because he was angry. Meanwhile, the wedding had been publicised. Families, friends and foes were looking forward to a grand wedding between the couple. Huge investments had been sunk into the preparation of the wedding.

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The two families have been introduced. Wedding invitations have been distributed. Families, friends, colleagues and church members were waiting. But their hope was dashed.

Olajumoke Fayemi who shared the story on her Facebook page said her fiancé has anger problems. But it didn’t occur to her that he could unleash his tiger in public. She was speechless. Wet and confused, her hope had been dashed.

On the one hand

The hope of 1 million customers was also dashed recently. The 1 million customers are the users of Dash mobile wallet app. The Ghanaian Fintech firm had got the ire of the country’s regulator. Before we go further, let us recapture the earlier scene. Mastercard and Visa are the two global payment processors. They manage the communication between banks and fintech firms. They settle transactions for consumers and businesses. They do it swiftly. Flutterwave rides on the Mastercard platform.

Boakye Boampong's email & phone | Dash's Founder email

But card payment is not the dominant platform in Africa. The telecommunication companies and banks lead the online transactions. This is done via mobile money wallets and bank accounts. A gap exists. Interoperability is a challenge in Africa. Dash has come to fill that gap.

Dash founder and CEO, Prince Boakye Boampong was in Kenya. He was inspired by how unbanked Kenyans sent and received money via M-Pesa. Safaricom’s M-Pesa has about 30 million customers. But as a Ghanaian in Kenya he noticed the interoperability challenge.

So, in 2019, Boampong launched Dash. It is an alternative payment network. Its connected wallets allow a mobile money user to transact with a bank account. This unified payments app has raised $32.8 million in an oversubscribed seed round.

In a media report, he said he was blown away by the ubiquity and convenience of mobile money. There are over 200 mobile money wallets. And 100 banks across the continent. These are not connected. For instance, a Kenyan who uses M-Pesa and travels to Ghana cannot send money to a Ghanaian who uses MTN Ghana. Why? Because the mobile money operators don’t permit transactions between each other.

Likewise, a Nigerian with a bank account cannot use an M-Pesa account. Or an MTN Ghana account. Why? Different payment ecosystems. So, when a Nigerian and Kenyan and Ghanaian travel, they must do three things: Change their currencies. Go to a bank. Set up a mobile money account.

Dash’s network brings mobile money and traditional banks together. It facilitates transactions for consumers and businesses. And its wallet allows users to access a plethora of services a traditional provider doesn’t offer.

With Dash, these travellers can make purchases without having to change currencies or set up accounts whenever they leave their countries of origin. “We’re taking a page from AliPay and PayTm by building features that will make the lives of our users easier without having to switch from different providers.” Boampong said.

Dash makes revenue from processing fees, savings, commission and subscription. It has quadrupled its size in five months. Some investors and onlookers were fazed. Attracting $32 million is an incredibly large seed for a three-year-old company. They said. But Boampong disagreed. Dash has processed over $1 billion since its launch in 2020 from 1 million customers. In Ghana. Kenya. And Nigeria. Now, the hope of the 1 million customers has been dashed.

After it raised $32.8 million in seed funding, the Bank of Ghana (BOG) shut down Dash. Why? Dash lacked the approval to facilitate cross-border payments and other financial services. BOG said it is an offense to “offer payment services” in Ghana without “a license under Section 9 (1) of Act 987”. The hope of Dash employees, customers, investors and others have been dashed.

On the other hand

In Kenya mobile apps have come under intense scrutiny. This is due to mass reports that the operators used mafia-style to recover loans. Aside, the operators were also accused of blatant personal information violation, harassment and sky high interest loans.

Kenyan parliament had waded into the matter.  In 2021, the CBK Amendment bill was signed into law. The bill required the CBK to publish regulations about loan apps by March 23, 2022. The regulations cover aspects of licensing, governance, and credit operation of online lenders.

Dash - Dash is Digital Cash You Can Spend Anywhere

Companies that dispense online loans must establish appropriate policies, procedures and systems to ensure the confidentiality of customer’s information and transactions. The Kenyan authorities have ordered that agents must not use threats or obscene language when talking to their customers. In Nigeria, there is no law backing the action of the federal government. It merely closed some online lenders operating illegally. Dashed hope.

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On this side

Do you think Dash needs to employ a policy staff?

I think so, Bigmummy.

But why did the Ghanaian authority wait for two years before shutting down Dash?

Bigmummy, you are innocent until proven otherwise. The authorities needed evidence to nail Dash. I think.

Ouch! The authority has humiliated Dash’s staff, customers and investors.

Bigmummy, Dash will dash back. These are some of the landmines you must navigate as a start-up. Especially in Africa.

Oh, the Ghanaian government has poured water on Dash’s face.

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