Wapi Pay brothers 'step aside' after hotel scuffle

Paul Ndichu and Eddie Ndichu, the co-founders Wapi Pay, a fintech firm based in Singapore with with headquarters in Nairobi. [Courtesy]

A scuffle in a Nairobi hotel is costing the co-founders of a Kenyan fintech company after a video clip of the incident went viral and they have “stepped aside” to pave way for investigations.

The clip, which was released on Saturday, shows two men in a scuffle with two women in the lobby of Nairobi’s Ole Sereni Hotel.

The men in the video, Edward Ndichu and Paul Ndichu, are twin brothers and are co-founders of fintech company, Wapi Pay. The women are unidentified.

A statement from the company’s Board yesterday evening said that Edward, the chief executive and Paul, the executive director, will step aside pending investigations. Elizabeth Kariuki, who is the chief operating officer, will assume the role of chief executive on an interim basis.

“As indicated earlier, Wapi Pay is built on, and practices, a culture of respect for all its stakeholders, employees and customers and does not tolerate any form of discrimination, including but not limited to any form of gender based violence,” the statement read.

It added that Wapi Pay Board commits to conclude the investigation within the next thirty working days. Also, the Association of Fintechs in Kenya (Afik), yesterday afternoon, announced that Edward, who is a board member, had stepped down “pending investigations into the matter.”

“The board takes this opportunity to state that it regrets the current circumstances and does not in any way condone gender-based violence or violence of any kind,” Afik said in a statement.

The scuffle caused early-stage venture capital fund Kepple Africa Ventures announce plans to pull out its investment from their firm.

Wapi Pay, which was founded in 2019, is based in Singapore and headquartered in Kenya. Its focus is the Africa-Asia remittance corridor where it intends “to reduce (traders’) remittance fees of up to 15 per cent of the amount,” the fintech’s website reads.

The incident comes even as the fintech seemed to be gaining traction in the East, with investors showing their interest in pumping resources to support its growth.

Earlier in the year, Wapi Pay had announced that it had raised $2.2 million in pre-seed funding to scale up global payments and remittances between Africa and Asia.

The investors, it said, included EchoVC and China-based global fund MSA Capital and Kepple Africa Ventures to join existing investors Future Hub, Gobi Ventures and Transsion Holding.

The fintech, which has a presence in China, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, India, Taiwan and Vietnam?, earlier in the year wrote that it targets to process $500 million in remittances by the end of 2022.

When the video clip caught the attention of social media users, there was uproar as people condemned the brothers and showed an outpouring of support for the women.

A statement from Wapi Pay released yesterday morning absolved the two co-founders from blame, with part of it reading that “the allegations and video currently being shared on social media, albeit horrific and regrettable, do not depict the true events that transpired that night.”

The statement further said that “Paul and Eddie got involved in an attempt to neutralise a confrontation between two women and to defend themselves from certain aggressors.”

It is yet to be seen what the reactions of other partners of Wapi Pay will be, or how the matter involving the co-founders will be settled.

Kepple African Ventures has an investment portfolio of 96 companies in 11 countries. 

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