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Kuda Bank Joins Flutterwave, Raises Another $25 Million

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Nigeria’s leading mobile banking startup, Kuda Bank, raised N25 million in a Series A round led by Valar Ventures, a company founded by Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first investor and co-founder of Paypal.

Other investors were Target Global, an international venture capital firm headquartered in Berlin and several other existing investors.

Kuda Bank said the new fund will be used to increase customer acquisition, expand leadership roles, and build out new features including a new easy-to-use lending option that the company is currently trailing with select customers.

According to Babs Ogundeyi, the co-founder and CEO, Kuda Bank was doing $500 million in transactions per month in the month of November and did $2.2 billion.

In November we were doing about $500 million in transactions per month,” Ogundeyi said, for services like bill payments, card transactions and phone top-ups. “We closed February at $2.2 billion.”

In December 2020, Kuda Bank raised $10 million in a seed round, the largest seed round by a startup out of Africa.

Babs Ogundeyi, CEO and co-founder of Kuda, said: “At Kuda, we know that the companies which are best able to leverage technology and talent will be the same companies which are best positioned to provide huge numbers of people across Africa with access to a vastly improved financial system that places the customer at its center. We recognize the great strides that we have taken to get to the point at which we are now, but even more importantly we recognize just how far we still have to go to achieve our objective of providing every African with access to powerful, appropriate and affordable financial services.

“With this in mind, we could not be more pleased that Valar Ventures has decided to come on board and join us on this mission. Their insights and experience in helping advise some of the world’s most successful challenger banks will without doubt be a critical part of our successes going forward.”

Andrew McCormack, a general partner, and co-founder at Valar noted that “Nigeria is at a tipping point in the adoption of digital banking, With the rapidly growing, youthful population who are open to new financial alternatives, Kuda is well-positioned to benefit and will transform the landscape of African banking. We are excited to lead their Series A and continue on the journey alongside Kuda.”

Nigeria’s fintech startups are raising huge money, an indication of a growing sector. Flutterwave recently raised $170 million at a valuation of $1 billion to join Jumia and Interswitch as a unicorn.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Pan African Payments Company Cellulant Acquires PSP License in Ghana as it Rolls Out a Digital Payments Solution For Businesses

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Digital Banking - Investors King

Digital payments have seen tremendous growth in the past couple of years. As of January 2021, 38.9 percent of the population aged 15 years and older had a mobile money account in Ghana. The share of mobile money users has increased over the previous three years as Ghanaians have gradually adopted a robust digital payment infrastructure.

However, cash remains a dominant preference for payments. One of the contributing factors for the preference of cash over digital payments is the high costs of digital payments that are often passed on to users, a lack of trust in, or familiarity with digital payments.

To curb these inefficiencies in digital payments, Cellulant has successfully rolled out Tingg, a digital payments platform enabling businesses and their consumers to accept and make payments seamlessly.

This announcement comes after the Central Bank of Ghana issued Cellulant a Payment Services Provider (PSP) License. The PSP License allows Cellulant to aggregate merchant services, process financial services, acquire merchants; deploy POS systems, and aggregate payments for banks, institutions, and the general public. The license is a requirement under the Payment Services Act 2019 which mandates that all Financial Technology or digital payments companies be licensed by the Bank of Ghana before they can operate in the country.

With a view to maintaining a sound financial system, promoting financial inclusion and innovation, and ensuring the safety, security, and stability of Ghana’s financial sector, The Bank of Ghana redefined the categories and permissible activities for financial technology companies with PSP enhanced licenses. Allowed services include mobile payments, bulk payments, and mobile banking. This license also allows for the provision of 3rd party payment gateways, a marketplace for duly regulated financial service providers, merchant acquisition and aggregation, the printing, and presentation of EMV cards, inward international remittance services, as well as limited use of closed-loop virtual cards.

Cellulant is launching Tingg in Ghana to provide the best customer experience for all persons and businesses looking to digitize their payments, collect, and disburse to customers today.

Cellulant Ghana Country Manager, Eric Kortey, expressed delight over the product launch and license acquisition, sharing his optimism about the future of payments and the Fintech ecosystem in the country. In his words, “We believe that Ghana is fast becoming a hub for fintech in Africa. Being licensed by the Bank of Ghana means a lot to the growth of our industry and opens doors to increased security and confidence in digital payments systems. Cellulant’s digital payments platform is allowing every Ghanaian to pay for their goods and services through any payment channel of their choice.”

Speaking on the rollout of Tingg he adds, “Cellulant is addressing the fragmentation of payments for both businesses and their consumers. The digital platform, which recently also launched in Zambia, offers simplified payment tools and processes for a merchant to manage their payments. As a result, businesses can allow their customers to make payments for goods and services using locally relevant payment options.

Hundreds of businesses have already begun using Tingg to collect digitally from their customers across Ghana.

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Fintech CEO: Fed Governor Brainard Points to CBDCs as Sustainable Monetary Policy

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Late last week, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard laid out the case for an American CBDC. In her time speaking with the Aspen Institute, she called for “urgency” around the matter, including noting that China is far ahead in the race for a central bank digital currency. Additionally, she suggested that a CBDC would shorten international intermediation chains, keep citizens utilizing government-backed currency rather than moving toward stablecoins, and getting government payments to the unbanked population with greater ease.

“Leaders of the Fed have been moving cautiously towards acknowledging that an American CBDC will exist in the future, but Governor Brainard’s commentary is really the first that lays out the strategic benefits while dismissing a future without a CBDC as impractical. The faster central bank bureaucrats adopt her thinking, the better positioned the country will be strategical,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges.

“The dollar is very dominant in international payments, and if you have the other major jurisdictions in the world with a digital currency, a CBDC offering, and the U.S. doesn’t have one, I just, I can’t wrap my head around that… That just doesn’t sound like a sustainable future to me,” Brainard is quoted as saying.

“We’ve been talking recently about the pressure that China’s leadership on CBDC development puts on regional players like Vietnam, but every major power should see the warning signs here. The race to a functional, widely adopted CBDC is this generation’s Race to Space. The United States shouldn’t rest on its laurels to take a wait-and-see approach here. This is the time to be bold and show leadership. Governor Brainard is correct. A monetary policy without employing a CBDC simply is not sustainable,” said Gardner.

Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list that includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.

“When history looks back at the emergence of CBDCs, I think we’re going to, only then, truly understand what a strategic advantage early mover status is. The world is still grappling with attempting to wrap their arms around pandemic-related issues, but that isn’t stopping technology’s ever-progressing march forward. China is taking innovation seriously, and, if for no other reason than that alone, it would seem that other global leaders should be investing heavily. Countries will need to adapt, or they will get left behind,” said Gardner.

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Kudi and Onepipe’s Partners To Provide Financial Access To Underserved Customers in Nigeria

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Fintech infrastructure startup, OnePipe has partnered with Kudi, a payments service company to provide more inclusive financial services to millions of underserved customers across Nigeria via Kudi Benefits Account.

Founded in 2018, OnePipe, leveraging its API-driven partnerships, is focused on working with organisations to embed and launch financial services like accounts, improved payments and credit within their products.

OnePipe’s CEO, Ope Adeoye reiterated the need for incumbent financial services stakeholders to combine resources with innovators to ensure that underserved Nigerians are included in the digital financial ecosystem. In his words “the collaboration of Polaris Bank, Migo, Zitra investments, Kudi and of course OnePipe has birthed the value proposition driving the Kudi Benefits Account.”

Polaris via its digital banking platform, Vulte, facilitates the provisioning of full-fledged, regulatory compliant accounts, Migo and Zitra Investments provide the lending resources and all of these are stitched together via OnePipe’s versatile API gateway resulting in Kudi Benefits Account – “A NUBAN enabled account that provides services and benefits for Kudi’s unique customer base”

This collaboration with Kudi is set to deepen the financial access to millions of users who already rely on Kudi’s payment service to withdraw cash, send cash and pay their bills through its fast-growing network of over 50,000 Mobile Money Agents across Nigeria.

Speaking on this partnership, Kudi’s CEO, Yinka Adewale said that; “it is important to us to continue to explore various channels to drive financial access to every Nigerian regardless of who they are or where they live. Leveraging OnePipe’s infrastructure, partnership with Polaris Bank and others, we can now provide full utility, NUBAN bank accounts laced with a no-friction credit proposition via kudibenefits.chat and very soon we will be issuing debit cards to millions of users and expand our service offerings to them”

According to a recent EFInA report, over 38 Million Nigerian adults still do not have access to digitized financial services. This highlights the need for improved efforts and more innovative solutions like the Kudi Benefits Account to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Kudi is a leading provider of cash collection, payment and other banking solutions in underserved markets in Nigeria. With a vision to make financial services accessible and affordable for all Africans, Kudi provides millions of users access to services such as cash withdrawal, cash transfer, bill payments, wallet top-ups and more through its fast-growing network of over 50,000 Agents.

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