Twenty-nine-year-old Félix Maroy was born in Bukavu, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He began his tech journey at the age of 16 when he began learning how to code.
Aug. 24, 2022
BY NATHAN HASTINGS-SPAINE, AFRICA REMEWAL
4 min read
You will succeed if you believe in your dream
- Félix Maroy Founder and CEO FYATU, a Congolese fintech company
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. In 2020 he founded FYATU, a fintech company involved in the payment card industry. More than 179,000 users—and counting—in 147 countries, including in Africa, have so far used FYATU’s services. He spoke to Nathan Hastings-Spaine about his journey. Excerpts:
Tell us about your background?
My tech journey started in 2008 when I was 16 years old. That was when I started to teach myself how to code using [online learning platforms] OpenClassrooms.com, Udemy, and Free CodeCamp.
When I was 18, instead of going to a university, I left Bukavu for Kinshasa—no family there and a limited amount of money—with a strong belief that I would make it.
Fortunately, at the airport, I met a Director of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, who also happened to be from Bukavu. He invited me to his home and hired me to create a website for the park.
Within two weeks in Kinshasa, I launched my software development company MerciPro, and by 2018, I was one of 50 Young Congolese Influencers.
In 2020, I founded FYATU, a fintech company in the payment card industry. Within two years and without any external investment, FYATU has grown in leaps and bounds. We are now a team of seven.
How did you start this initiative?
I started building FYATU in January 2020 and launched it in October that same year. Currently, we have 179,000+ users across 147 countries. Most users are in DRC, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Initially, when I came up with the idea for FYATU, I planned to build part of it and then sell it online because I felt the project was too big for me. But I submitted it for review on CodeCanyon [a marketplace where apps are sold] five times and it was rejected each time.
Disappointed but unwilling to give up, I looked for tech companies to buy the product, but none were interested. Unwilling to throw in the towel, I decided to implement the project myself. I had to spend additional time diagnosing the real problem Africans were facing, which was that local Visa cards limited what they can do online.
“People may say that your idea cannot work or that your project is not worth your time, but you will succeed if you keep believing,”
Félix Maroy said.
How does FYATU solve that problem?
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Our most popular offerings are our virtual cards service and PayPal and Perfect Money withdrawal services.
Before FYATU, many Africans were limited in what goods and services they could purchase online using their local Visa cards because many foreign-based services do not accept payments in locally issued credit and debit cards.
But FYATU users can create a virtual card without a bank account and use it for online shopping or sign up for an online subscription. Users can fund their FYATU wallets in their local currency with a bank-issued card or mobile money.
Another issue facing many Africans, especially those who have an online business, is withdrawing money from PayPal and Perfect Money. You can't directly transfer money from PayPal into a bank account in Africa. As a result, people are often forced to leave the money in their PayPal accounts and engage in online transactions.
With FYATU, you can transfer money from PayPal and Perfect Money to your FYATU wallet and vice-versa. And you can withdraw money from FYATU.
Other services we offer include free P2P [peer-to-peer] money transfer, Worldwide Mobile Recharge (TOPUP), and Wallet Interoperability, meaning that FYATU can be used in conjunction with other payment systems.
What are the challenges and successes so far?
Finding partners in the countries we operate in to help scale our business has been a huge challenge.
Another challenge is cyber insecurity. When you start doing well as a startup, especially in the fintech space, you should expect to experience cyber-attacks. They can be as minor as someone trying to make fraudulent transactions or as major as a coordinated attack on your servers. We solved this by hiring a company that specializes in security to ensure our platform is protected.
In terms of successes, to be where we are today is a huge success. In less than two years, out of the millions of websites worldwide, we are ranked in the top 12,000 in terms of visits. Also, if you go on YouTube and search FYATU, you'll see videos in more than eight languages of people praising our services. It's an amazing feeling and another sign of success.
What is your message to young people in Africa?
My message is to never give up on your dream. Keep working on your dream until you achieve it. People may say that your idea cannot work or that your project is not worth your time, but you will succeed if you keep believing.
And don't worry about how it will happen because you can't control the future; all you can do is take tangible steps today towards your dream and the future will hold a good surprise for you.