African-focused Payments Firm pawaPay Raises $9M Seed Funding

African-focused payments firm pawaPay has raised a $9m Seed funding led by UK-based investment fund 88mph. Vunani Capital,  Kepple Ventures, MSA and Zagadat Capital also participated in the round.

The company says it will use this capital to scale its operations, find more talent to join the team, and expand into new markets on the continent.

Founded in 2020, pawaPay is focused on the mobile money infrastructure provided by telecommunications companies (telco) in Africa. Each telco in each country provides its own unique mobile money product, which makes the mobile money infrastructure as a whole  – across borders and telcos – highly fragmented and opaque. For merchants, this fragmentation means that it is unnecessarily expensive to use and frustratingly unstable. Through pawaPay’s simple API, merchants can access more than 300 million customers in more than ten markets and enjoy seamless, transparent and highly reliable payments.

pawaPay’s customers are large Pan-Africa/global merchants and companies needing to make payments to African consumers’ accounts.

Payments in Africa have long been made difficult by large unbanked populations, declined credit card transactions, charge-backs, fraud, dropped and lost payments, and slow cross-border settlements. The alternative financial infrastructure created by the telco-led mobile money wallets now has more than half a billion registered accounts in Africa, making it one of the world’s largest financial infrastructures and one of the most under-developed. pawaPay has positioned itself as an industry leader in high volume mobile money payments and focuses on delivering reliability and transparency for merchants wishing to connect to the customers on the continent. With a single API, pawaPay’s customers can access all telco mobile money systems and thus receive and send payments to hundreds of millions of people. pawaPay handles local operations, compliance, regulatory cover and bank accounts, making it as simple as clicking a button to start receiving payments in a new market. pawaPay is already successfully handling millions of transactions on its rails per week and has operations in 10 countries.

“Africa’s alternative financial infrastructure is in an exciting phase with double digits CAGR everywhere. And mobile money has come out as the de facto money infrastructure for hundreds of millions of people on the continent. A quarter of the adult population is an active mobile money user. A third of all wallet holders have their salaries paid into them.” Nikolai Barnwell, CEO of pawaPay said.

”We’re making a bet that this infrastructure will continue to grow and offer a superior experience than traditional financial infrastructures such as card and banking. ”

Commenting on the raise Kresten Buch, Founder of 88mph, noted that one of the key drivers that made the invest in Africa in 2010 was mobile money. He sais mobile money was a superior payment method to credit and debit cards when used for online payment.

”So, we are excited to be an investor in pawaPay’s journey and continue to witness the development of digital infrastructure in Africa”.

Mr. Eazi, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and Founder of Zagadat Capital, added “Being investors hugely focused on Africa and very familiar with the landscape, we believe that mobile money-focused fintech is not just one of the most exciting places to invest but also one of the most important bridges to ensuring financial inclusion of the billions of people across the continent, the kicker for us was that we believe in the clear mission, vision and strategy & we are confident that the pawaPay team is the best team to achieve it”.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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