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MarketForce Raises $40M Series A to Scale Up the Super App for Africa’s Informal Merchants

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Today, MarketForce, the Nairobi-headquartered B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services in Africa, announces the closing of a $40 million Series A round, the largest Series A round of it’s kind in East and Central Africa. The raise comes 7 months after concluding a pre-Series A round.

The round was led by V8 Capital Partners – a London and Lagos based African-focused investment vehicle – with participation from Ten13 VC, SOSV Select Fund, Vu Ventures, Vastly Valuable Ventures and Uncovered Fund, along a number of existing investors; Reflect Ventures, Greenhouse Capital, Century Oak Capital and Remapped Ventures. Ken Njoroge, Cofounder and former CEO of Cellulant also participated in the round and joins the board as Chairman. The oversubscribed round was made up of equity and debt.

In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 90% of household retail transactions are in cash, and delivered through a network of about 100 million MSMEs. Retail payments on the continent are expected to top $2.1 trillion by 2025, and MarketForce aims to digitize a large portion of these offline transactions.

Co-founded in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti, MarketForce is a leading B2B Commerce and Fintech marketplace that empowers informal merchants in Africa to order, pay and receive inventory digitally and conveniently, access financing, collect digital payments and make extra money by reselling digital financial services such as airtime, electricity tokens and bill payments.

MarketForce runs an asset-light operating model and is currently operational in 5 markets (Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda) with the merchant super app, RejaReja – which offers informal merchants next-day delivery for hundreds of SKUs from the leading FMCG brands. One year ago, MarketForce served about 5,000 customers: now, that figure has grown more than twenty-fold to 100,000 merchants, with the average transaction size tripling and revenue growing 27x over the same period.

On the supplier side, MarketForce monetizes through availing real-time market intelligence dashboards to FMCGs. MarketForce counts top consumer brands and financial service providers such as Nestle, Pepsi, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Bidco Africa, Chandaria Industries, Kapa Oil, Safaricom, Cellulant, Lami and Pezesha, to mention a few, as its partners.

With this round of funding, MarketForce plans to scale merchant inventory financing through a BNPL offering, grow deeper in existing markets and avail more digital financial and banking services through its extensive merchant network. MarketForce has a team of 400 and intends to double the team before the end of the year.

Building the “Operating System” for retail distribution in Africa

“Our goal is be the ultimate partner for informal merchants, empowering them to maximize their profits and grow in a digital age by getting better service, assortment, and access to new revenue opportunities, outfitting them with the technology and support they need to transform themselves from simple FMCG outlets to comprehensive financial service hubs for the continent’s last-mile communities,” said Tesh Mbaabu, Cofounder and CEO of MarketForce. “We are targeting to serve over 1 million active merchants on our platform in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.”

“The MarketForce team has demonstrated their ability to build a differentiated, powerful and all-inclusive digital commerce platform for merchants in Africa. We are proud to partner and build the future of retail in Africa by helping to optimize supply chains and catalyze the digitization of the African retail ecosystem, which holds a lot of untapped potential to improve incomes and enable millions of African merchants to grow their businesses,” said Tobi Oke, General Partner at V8 Capital and member of the MarketForce board. 

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Flutterwave Celebrates Inclusion in CNBC’s Top 250 Global Fintechs

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Flutterwave has been recognized as one of the Top 250 Fintech companies globally by CNBC and Statista.

Joining the ranks of industry giants like Ali Pay, Klarna, Piggyvest, and Mastercard, this accolade underscores Flutterwave’s impact on the financial technology sector.

This honor follows Flutterwave’s recent inclusion in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list, highlighting the company’s pivotal role in transforming Africa’s payment landscape.

The recognition is a testament to Flutterwave’s dedication to innovation and excellence in providing seamless payment solutions across the continent.

Expressing gratitude, Flutterwave acknowledged its talented team, supportive board, reliable partners, and loyal customers for contributing to this success.

The company continues to drive progress in the fintech industry, reinforcing its commitment to enhancing financial accessibility and inclusion in Africa and beyond.

Flutterwave’s recognition on these prestigious lists marks a proud moment and a significant milestone in its journey, reflecting the company’s growing influence and leadership in the global fintech arena.

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Nigeria Sees 31% Increase in POS Fraud Amid Rising Terminal Adoption

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Moniepoint

The prevalence of fraud and forgery in Nigeria’s payment system has shown a significant shift in the first quarter of 2024, with Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions experiencing the highest increase in fraudulent activities.

According to the “Fraud and Forgeries Report in Nigerian Banks” for Q1 2024 by the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC), POS fraud cases surged by 31.12%.

In Q4 2023, there were 2,683 reported cases of fraud associated with POS terminals. However, this number escalated to 3,518 cases by Q1 2024.

POS fraud cases made up 30.67% of the total fraud cases (11,472) recorded in the quarter under review.

Financial Impact of POS Fraud

While there was a rise in fraud cases, the amount of money involved in POS fraud declined. In Q4 2023, the total amount involved in POS fraud was NGN604.91 million.

This amount decreased by 37.74% to NGN376.59 million by Q1 2024.

Also, the amount of money lost to POS fraud saw a significant decline, falling from NGN14.62 million by 68.34% to NGN4.63 million on a quarterly basis.

The decrease in financial losses may indicate improved detection and prevention measures, but the overall rise in fraud cases highlights the need for continued vigilance.

Adoption of POS Terminals

The rise in POS fraud cases is attributed to the widespread adoption of these terminals by merchants and consumers alike.

As a cash-driven Nigerian economy, the convenience and efficiency of POS transactions have made them a popular choice.

However, this widespread adoption has also made them a target for fraudsters seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in the system.

In Q1 2023, the number of registered POS terminals increased by 218,475, from 2,318,947 in January 2023 to 2,537,422 by March 2023.

By the same quarter in 2024, the number of registered POS terminals had increased by 289,154, from 3,441,287 in January 2024 to 3,730,441 by March 2024.

Overall, between the end of Q1 2023 and Q1 2024, Nigeria witnessed an additional 1,193,019 POS terminals, marking a 47.02% increase.

Despite this increase in the number of registered POS terminals, the first quarter of 2024 saw POS transaction volumes reach 314 million, which is a significant drop of 73.81 million, or 19.03%, from the 387.81 million transactions recorded in the first quarter of 2023.

Regulatory Measures and Industry Response

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) recently stated that POS agents of major fintechs in Nigeria, including OPay, Palmpay, and Moniepoint, among others, must have registered their businesses by July 7, 2024.

However, it extended the deadline by 60 days, giving operators until September 5, 2024. The CAC said the registration is aimed at safeguarding the businesses of fintechs and customers, as well as strengthening the economy.

Meanwhile, the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN) condemned the mandated registration, describing it as an attempt to tax more Nigerians to generate revenue for the government.

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PalmPay Issues July 7 Deadline for POS Operators to Submit CAC Certificates

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PalmPay

PalmPay has announced a firm deadline of July 7, 2024, for all Point of Sale (POS) operators using its platform to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) or submit their CAC certificates.

This mandate aims to ensure compliance with Section 863 (1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 and the 2013 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines on Agent Banking.

In a statement released on Thursday, PalmPay emphasized the importance of adhering to these legal requirements.

“Following CAC’s directive for POS operators to register and submit their CAC details on or before July 7, 2024, PalmPay is encouraging its business users who have not yet complied with the directive to do so promptly,” the statement read.

This initiative comes in the wake of a two-month registration deadline issued by the Federal Government through the CAC, mandating POS companies to register their agents, merchants, and individuals.

The directive is part of broader efforts to bring regulatory compliance and transparency to Nigeria’s burgeoning fintech sector.

To facilitate the registration process, PalmPay has integrated the CAC registration portal into its Business App.

This integration allows operators to seamlessly register their businesses and submit the required documents, ensuring a smoother compliance process.

Umuteme Enakeno, Head of Marketing and Communication at PalmPay, reiterated the company’s support for the CAC directive.

“PalmPay fully supports the CAC’s directive. We provide 24/7 customer support and conduct weekly meetings to guide operators through the process,” Enakeno stated.

He also highlighted that operators can seek assistance through PalmPay’s customer support channels, including phone, email, or in-person visits to any of the 36 state offices across Nigeria.

PalmPay has urged all its business customers to submit or register their CAC details before the deadline.

“Register your business via the PalmPay Business App: Ensure that all necessary documents and information are provided accurately before submitting your application. Update your PalmPay account once you get the certificate to reflect your new corporate status,” Enakeno advised.

Failure to comply with the CAC registration requirement will result in the freezing of PalmPay accounts, the company warned.

This stringent measure underscores PalmPay’s commitment to aligning with national regulatory standards and fostering a compliant fintech ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, representing POS operators, has indicated plans to challenge the mandatory CAC registration in court, questioning its legality and potential impact on their operations.

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