Nigerian fintech Flutterwave lands unicorn status with $170m Series C
Flutterwave, a Lagos and San Francisco-based payments gateway serving the likes of Uber, Booking.com and Jumia, has become one of the latest start-ups to land unicorn status.
The five-year-old fintech closed a $170 million funding round this week, tipping its valuation north of $1 billion.
In total, Flutterwave has raised $225 million and is one of the few African start-ups to have secured more than $200 million in funding.
Fellow Lagos-based fintech Interswitch bagged unicorn status in November 2019 with the help of Visa. But less than a year later, Business Day reports suggested the pandemic might have scuppered this status.
Growth-equity firms Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management LLC led Flutterwave’s latest round, alongside existing investors.
These include Visa – which backed its $35 million Series B – as well as financial services provider FIS, DST Global, and Salesforce Ventures.
Former bank managers from JP Morgan, Nigeria’s Access Bank, Standard Bank Nigeria, and KPMG founded Flutterwave in 2016.
The start-up provides business-to-business (B2B) payments services for those companies operating in Africa. It allows them to can pay other companies on and beyond the continent.
Olugbenga Agboola, the fintech’s founder and CEO, says “the payments landscape in Africa was highly fragmented” when it started out. “So, the goal was to build a pan-African platform that simplified payments”.
Flutterwave has since grown to a more than 300-person team and built its network up to 290,000 merchants. As well as 500,000 Barter users – a service which allows customers to transfer money for free.
Agboola praises the Central Bank of Nigeria. Particularly under the leadership of its current governor, Godwin Emefiele – who took over in 2014.
“[The CBN has] remained at the forefront of the significant efforts that are currently being made by African governments to create the enabling environment for technology, innovation and financial inclusion,” says Flutterwave’s CEO.
The start-up will use the new funds to continue harmonising Africa’s digital payments landscape for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Particular focuses will be customer acquisition, both in existing as well as international markets. As well as product development.
The fintech recently launched “Flutterwave Mobile”, an app which turns mobiles into point-of-sale (PoS) devices.
The new release came out of the success of “Flutterwave Stores”, which launched during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows businesses to upload products, set prices and integrate with delivery partners for orders – all without setting up a website.
“We look forward to increasing our investments across the continent and deepening the impact our platform has on lives and livelihoods,” says Agboola.