Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s finance affiliate is seeking at least 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in a second round of fundraising ahead of a planned initial public offering, a person familiar with the matter said.
Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co., controlled by Alibaba’s billionaire chairman Jack Ma, plans to issue stock to existing and new investors, according to the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. The firm, known as Ant Financial, is speaking to potential investors including insurers and other financial institutions, as well as private equity funds and venture capital firms, the person said.
Challenging bricks-and-mortar banks, the Internet-based Ant Financial runs China’s biggest online payment service, Alipay, and controls the company which manages Yu’E Bao, the nation’s largest money-market fund with more than 600 billion yuan of assets. It also holds a stake in MYBank, a private online lender.
Ant Financial was valued at about $45 billion after completing an initial round of fundraising in June 2015, the person said. The company may sell shares in an IPO as early as this year and hasn’t decided yet whether to conduct a third round of financing ahead of that, according to the person.
Ant Financial may use money from the current fundraising for acquisitions, the person said, without identifying potential targets. Ant Financial has already invested in companies including India’s One97 Communications Ltd. and Postal Savings Bank of China.
Miranda Shek, a Hangzhou-based spokeswoman for Ant Financial, confirmed a second round of funding while declining to comment on the amount sought or other details.
Prior to Alibaba’s record $25 billion IPO in September 2014, the companies struck a deal which locked in Alibaba’s share of the finance affiliate’s pretax earnings and set terms for Alibaba’s entitlements if Alipay or its parent hold an IPO.
In Ant Financial’s initial fundraising round, the company sold a 12.4 percent stake to outside investors including China’s national social security fund and China Development Bank Capital Co.
Nigerian Energy Startup Secures $2M Investment From Shell-Owned Fund
Nigerian startup Infibranches Technologies, which helps solar energy providers manage their operations and receive payments, has secured US$2 million funding from All On, an impact investment company backed by oil major Shell.
Founded in 2019, the Lagos-based Infibranches has developed two flagship products – OmniBranches and Green Energy Plug – that help companies with large distribution networks, particularly solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.
OmniBranches is a management platform with features that include agent hierarchy management, commission tracking, transaction records, transaction analytics, and profile management, while Green Energy Plug is a single point of integration for payments and other financial services for service providers in the Nigerian renewable energy sector.
So far the company has served over one million customers and processed over US$120 million in transactions, and the US$2 million All On investment will be used to support the next stage of its growth by financing inventory, agent acquisition, and product and technology development, as well as providing working capital for Infibranches’ plans to distribute solar home systems for households and commercial users across Nigeria, with a special focus in the Niger Delta.
“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Olusola Owoyemi.
Dr Wiebe Boer, chief executive of All On, commended Infibrances for its innovative business model that solves payments and collections problems solar system distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.
“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections,” he said.
Verve Partners NIMC to Improve National Identity Management System
Positioned as a torchbearer for inclusive digitization, Africa’s leading payment cards & token business, Verve has thrown its support behind the Federal Government’s efforts to create a robust digitization framework for comprehensive identity management for Nigerians.
The Nigerian government ramped up its digital identity management campaign to ensure a proper and foolproof identification system, as obtained in most countries across the globe.
In 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) joined the coalition calling for the recognition of September 16 as International Identity Day to further consolidate its target of a comprehensive digital identity management system.
Verve, on its part as a leading card & digital payment scheme in Africa and a champion of digitized identity management solutions, has lent its support to this national undertaking of strategic importance.
According to the NIMC, the digital identity ecosystem includes players in both the private and public sectors to improve the commission’s reach across the nation. Players in the sectors include qualified private vendors who will provide data collection services and issue National Identification Number (NIN) under the National Identity Management System (NIMS) programme.
The commission seeks to enroll all Nigerians and legal residents in a centralized identity database, with the aim of creating an authentication channel that would foster seamless and safe local and foreign transactions.
Verve, as a provider of safe and seamless payment solutions, through its technology framework possesses the expertise and capacity to provide contemporary digitized identification solutions. This positions Verve as a suitable partner in the ongoing public identity digitization drive, providing structures that will advance the goals of the NIMC.
Marking this year’s National Identity Day at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Divisional Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) for Payment Cards and Digital Tokens, Interswitch Group, Vincent Ogbunude, restated the firm’s commitment towards supporting a digital ecosystem in tandem with the aims of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
Ogbunude said, “Verve is proud to be supporting the federal government on this project. This partnership underpins our commitment and investment to grow the digital identity management system in Nigeria. At Interswitch we understand the critical place for identity, indeed we believe that a person’s identity is a fundamental human right that should not be trifled with.”
Emphasizing the importance of having an identity management database for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and the 7th most populous nation in the world, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said that a comprehensive identity database was important in identifying the total number of residents in the country.
He also noted that a digitized identity management system would aid the government in crafting a proper national budget to better cater to the needs of Nigerians.
The minister pointed out that the digital national identification exercise would serve as a convenient substitute for frequent census exercises, “if the database is updated”.
Flutterwave, 9PSB Partner to Boost Growth of Inclusive Financial Services in Nigeria
Flutterwave, Africa’s leading payments technology company and Nigeria’s very first payment service bank, 9PSB on Monday entered into a partnership agreement that will help facilitate seamless financial services for Nigerians.
In a joint statement issued by both companies, the partnership seeks to create a seamless payment ecosystem by aggregating and simplifying transactions for banking agents, merchants, and consumers.
The partnership will also support the drive for economic growth through empowerment of the SME sector, entrepreneurs in FinTech and other industries, as well as contribute to the transformation of the informal sector to formal.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, held at the 9PSB head office in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, 9PSB, Branka Mracajac remarked that the collaboration between 9PSB and Flutterwave represents an important milestone in making banking services accessible to all.
According to her, the partnership supports both companies’ commitment to expand accessibility and serve as last-mile delivery of solutions to the unbanked, under-banked and underserved. She said, “9PSB, being focused on the presence in unserved, rural, and remote areas, has a unique business model that provides Agent Banking as a Service to our partners to drive financial inclusion. Expanding on our promise to deliver relevant products, with this partnership, our existing agents, partners, and customers will have a single point of entry to enjoy various products and services provided by Flutterwave.”
With this partnership, Flutterwave and 9PSB are jointly launching a suite of products to enable other corporate entities, FinTech, technology and other industries to take advantage of the robust end-to-end system available for payments, collections, and transactions for both the banked and financially excluded Nigerians.
Commenting on the choice of 9PSB as its settlement bank, Founder and CEO, Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola noted that both companies share the same vision and are committed to one goal of powering seamless financial services. “At Flutterwave, we believe in an ecosystem of shared value that transforms and impacts society. We are showcasing the power of strategic partnership and cross-sectoral collaboration in advancing Nigeria’s financial ecosystem,” he said.
A paper published by the CBN—Financial Inclusion in Nigeria; Issues and Challenges, admits that there is global consensus on the importance of financial inclusion due to its key role in bringing integrity and stability into an economy’s financial system as well as its role in fighting poverty in a sustainable manner. The partnership between 9PSB and Flutterwave keys into various calls for interconnectivity and interoperability amongst stakeholders in the financial sector in accelerating the country’s financial inclusion drive to create prosperity and grow the economy.
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