Bidemi Daniel Olumide, Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Taxaide Professional Services Ltd (Taxaide), an indigenous information technology (IT) firm in Lagos discusses the importance of automation in tax processes and why there should be harmonization of national data amongst agencies. Anthony Nwosu captures this in an exclusive interview.
Tell us more about Taxaide Professional Services Ltd as an IT firm?
Taxaide technologies Limited was set up in 2015, since then we have grown from taxation solution provider to data protection space and data compliance and cyber security. We have two departments, one is the business process automation, this is the branch that take care of building of applications and platforms. This section builds applications and platforms for various sectors of the economy. Then we have the data security and protection space which is focused on data protection and cybersecurity. Taxaide Professional Services Ltd (Taxaide) deploys different tools to help tax payers and administrators pursue streamlined, discreet, transparent, and efficient tax functions that skillfully addresses tax management and administration issues. This leaves room for efforts to be directed at more strategic concerns. Our tax management framework explores several dimensions to ensure every tax decision results in value creation in as many possible ways.
Can Taxaide be called a tax consultancy firm?
To an extent but it is just part of what we do, you can call us a fintech firm and we provide also payment solutions as it were. A simpler way to call us is just a tech company. We are okay with that. We work with the organizational model, policies, processes and technologies that are available; we are that dynamic. We explore, assess, prioritize and implement improvement opportunities; we are that objective. At the end, we always arrive at process efficiency, cost /time saving and more effective resource allocation, generally. With us, your benefits include having additional time on your hands for greater value creation.
Do you think that Nigeria is going the right way as it regards to technology be it in terms of policies and creation of enabling environment?
Yes, they are trying in terms of laws and policy. National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has shown promise here. NITDA setup public private collaboration in data protection, that is good but the issue of enforcement is there. The enforcement isn’t that adequate. The commencement of privacy week by NITDA is a good thing and that enforcement would be taking the center stage. Enforcement should be taken seriously; public sector should lead in the area of complying with data protection laws and compliance. There are lots of things to be done right, if enforcement is there, then we wouldn’t have challenge.
Data Protection, what do you think about many organizations asking for Nigerians’ data such as MINC, NIN, BVN etc.?
I want to believe that this is the core responsibility of ministry of communication and digital economy, if you can remember, before now, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) wasn’t under this ministry so we had a lot of duplicity. Before then data was kept in silos, but then the expectation is that ministry should key into one government where data can speak to themselves irrespective of where the data is stored. NIMC is an identity management office in Nigeria and they buck stops at their table. Even if the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which is about bank account must align with NIMC, because everybody CBN captures must be in NIMC. If we have a singular data capturing in Nigeria, this would stop any future go here and there. This would help in national planning and census. Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy must coordinate all the government agencies to align with the guidelines of managing public data. Every organization that has data must reach a certain level of compliance by NIMC. Government needs to be much more organized and I know that Isa Patanmi is doing well in this regard.
What sets your solution apart from others?
We don’t see technology as a product but as a service. We are coming from a professional services background; we see whatever solution we have out there we try to always improve on it. With every new feedback and applause, we try to get better. We don’t want to see one solution been there for so long, we have quest for excellence and customer satisfaction is what makes our clients will readily say good about us. Also, we are very big on innovation, we don’t believe in sitting on our oars, we set milestones and we ensure that we surpass them. It is very important that people know that we are homegrown technology firm with experts, we are hundred percent African.
How do you handle acceptability where Nigerians love foreign software?
I think that local knowledge is at the heart of our software development. We sit with the experts and understand what the client wants. Our software is bespoke and that you don’t always get from foreign software. For us, our clients are able to reach us on phone and we are there immediately in terms of support and advisory services, these aren’t what you get from foreign software, we are at home with our clients and we understand the environment that is why we build software that fits into client’s expectations.
Do you think that government is doing enough to protect indigenous firms like yours chance to scale?
As for me, I am not much a protectionist, I strongly believe in competition but to an extent. With increased globalization, there are more competition and this leads to progress, though there are ways around this. Let’s say a foreign firm partners with a local firm would you not do business with them? In trying to promote Nigerian businesses, the government has done well but that is not enough. I don’t think that serious entrepreneurs will bank on that, we must understand that the market is open and there is globalization and competition can come from anywhere.
Do you think that government across all the tiers are doing enough in digitizing their taxation processes?
I think automation is the key and they must key into this. There is no two way about this. Starting with tax registration and enumeration, this is when the government registers and knows businesses and people paying taxes. There are about eight steps. There must be smart data base, then computation and assessment, here people should know the tax they should pay, then you take it collection processes, this can be via USSD, API service or mobile. Then you get an authenticated receipt and return filing. Then there should be tax accounting and audition, here the government would know those that have tax. These processes are what we help government to achieve robust tax system. The present taxing system is automation and the future in taxing will be more of artificial intelligence (AI). Tax offices across the country need to be automated and this is seen as a service. I want to believe that a lot of states are having this conversation, it is not all about collecting money but doing the right thing. The states are not collecting much because the ax to GDP ratio is still very low. If states can digitize these processes, they would see improvement in their revenues. We aren’t doing as much as we should do as t regards to tax collection in states, the states must start seeing tax as a service not a product.
You introduced TaxiTWithhold® sometime last year, can we know a bit about it?
Is a solution that we introduced last year, it is a direct Disbursement solution, it Sorts out payment to vendors and RTAs and disburses payments directly to their individual bank accounts instantly. Integrated with TaxiTPay® to enable seamless disbursement of payments to vendors and RTAs. It has automatic Payment Processing: which Retains and sorts out all obligations to vendors, computes withholding tax (WHT) and ensures scheduled payments to vendors and RTAs. A cloud-based Technology: Work from anywhere and anytime. It has Notifications & Reminders in Built-in real-time and alert system to help you stay compliant and keep up with your obligations. Another thing is that it is mobile Compatible for people and organizations. With no upfront software costs, you wouldn’t need to break the bank to afford TaxiTWithhold®. Information available in formats sufficient for filing monthly WHT Schedules.
We are coming from a professional services background; we see whatever solution we have out there we try to always improve on it. With every new feedback and applause, we try to get better. We don’t want to see one solution been there for so long, we have quest for excellence and customer satisfaction is what makes our clients will readily say good about us. Also, we are very big on innovation, we don’t believe in sitting on our oars, we set milestones and we ensure that we surpass them. It is very important that people know that we are homegrown technology firm with experts, we are hundred percent African.