African fintech Flutterwave gets $35 mln, partners with WorldPay

LAGOS, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Africa-focused fintech firm Flutterwave on Tuesday announced a $35 million fundraising round and partnerships with WorldPay and Visa as it targets expansion in northern and Francophone Africa.

The startup, founded in 2016 by Nigerians and headquartered in San Francisco, specialises in individual and consumer transfers — one of several fintech firms aiming to facilitate and capitalise on Africa’s booming payments market.

As part of the deal, Flutterwave will become the African payment provider for Worldpay’s clients worldwide, making the company the latest African fintech firm to attract global cash and big-name partnerships. While the agreement is not exclusive, it is WorldPay’s only partner on the continent.

Visa’s investment is its first buy in to Flutterwave, with which it joined last year on a consumer payment platform called GetBarter that allows individuals to make payments to one another across borders.

As part of the latest funding round, Flutterwave will scale up and expand that service, allowing it to issue physical and virtual Visa cards and process payments using Visa’s networks.

Visa also bought a 20% stake in Nigerian payments firm Interswitch late last year, elevating it to “unicorn” status – a term used for tech companies with a valuation of a billion dollars or more.

Interswitch, founded in 2002 and also expanding across Africa, is the main platform for Nigeria’s business-to-business transactions, whereas Flutterwave’s main focus is on individual payments — making it more akin to an African Venmo, where people pay each other back or transfer cash to family.

“We have built a technology infrastructure that is steadily being recognised as the bridge to connect the payment system,” Flutterwave’s founder and chief executive GB Agboola said in a statement.

“We are excited to be working with our newest commercial partners, Visa and WorldPay FIS, and investors to build the dominant payments platform in Africa.”

Business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan forecast that Nigeria’s fintech revenues alone will grow from $153.1 million in 2017 to $543.3 million by 2022.

Flutterwave’s main backer in the fundraising round was venture capital firm Greycroft & eVentures, with other large backers including CRE Ventures, WorldPay FIS, Visa, and Green Visor. (Reporting By Libby George; Editing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Kirsten Donovan)

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