Kenneth Olisa steps in as Interswitch chairman
Interswitch, one of the leading Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company, has announce the appointment of Kenneth Olisa as its new Chairman, succeeding Adedotun Sulaiman (MFR). Olisa, who was once named the most powerful black person in Britain, was the first British born black man to serve on the board of a public company (Reuters), has his own merchant bank (Restoration Partners), and a library named after him at his Cambridge alma mater (Fitzwilliam).
His appointment follows the recent minority investment by TA Associates in Interswitch in March of this year, a landmark transaction being TA’s first ever investment into the African continent. Helios Investment Partners, which invested in the company in 2011, is majority shareholder of the company.
Though with Nigerian roots, Kenneth Olisa is a British businessman with a career in technology that commenced at IBM and spans well over 40 years. He founded and led the technology merchant bank Interregnum and is also the founder and chairman of Restoration Partners, an independent boutique technology merchant bank, reputed as architects of the Virtual Technology Cluster model. He is currently a Director of Thomson Reuters. In 2015, he became the first black Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London having been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen.
Mitchell Elegbe, the founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, commented, “Ken’s inspiring business leadership, vast experience and professional expertise will be great assets to Interswitch as he comes on board as Chairman at a defining phase in our journey of transformation and international expansion. We are delighted to welcome him on board, in succession to the visionary and highly successful tenure of Adedotun Sulaiman, who as country CEO of Accenture, played a key role in the formative years of our company and upon assuming the role of Chairman, oversaw the successful transition of Interswitch to private equity ownership”.
Speaking on his appointment, Kenneth Olisa said, “Interswitch is a shining example of financial technology entrepreneurialism at its best. Unlike many of its global competitors, Interswitch is not only a fast growing and powerful innovator, it is also profitable. This is a testament to the skill and drive of its founder – Mitch Elegbe – and I am delighted to be joining him and his team. As the son of a Nigerian father, I honoured to have been elected to fill the shoes of my distinguished predecessor (Mr Sulaiman), whose steady hand has helped steer Interswitch’s journey so far. They are big shoes to fill.”
Founded in 2002, Interswitch is active across the entire payments value chain and currently processes over 4 billion unique transactions yearly, with a value of over USD 38 billion. A recognized leader in the payments space in Nigeria, the company owns and operates the country’s principal domestic debit card scheme, Verve, as well as serves as a third-party transaction processor for many of Nigeria’s largest banks. In addition, the company offers several B2B electronic payment services to public and private sector organizations and businesses, including government entities, hospitals, telecommunications companies and utilities, and operates Quickteller, the leading B2C bill payments and digital commerce platform in Nigeria.
Through add-on acquisitions, Interswitch also operates in Kenya, Uganda and Gambia.
Interswitch has sustained impressive business growth in recent years, garnering acclaim from Deloitte and others as one of Africa’s fastest growing technology business. The digital payments evolution is in the early stages of development in Nigeria, with cash used for 99% of transactions according to McKinsey & Company, versus approximately 50% for developed markets in North America and Europe.