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[African Startup Review] Pie Kamau: Nigerian fintech Flutterwave is now Africa’s highest valued Unicorn


As the African fintech space continues to bloom, so does the funding. Flutterwave, the San Francisco-headquartered and Lagos-based company that provides payment infrastructure for global merchants and payment service providers across the continent, has now become Africa’s highest valued startup after closing $250 million Series D funding, bringing the company’s valuation to over $3 billion.

In 2017, just over a year since its inception in 2016, Flutterwave received over $10 million capital boost from Greycroft Partners and Green Visor. The startup would use this capital to hire more talent, build out its global operations and fuel rapid expansion across Africa, an undertaking Flutterwave has assiduously delivered.

Come early 2020, Flutterwave raised $35 million Series B funding round from FIS, an American fintech, to invest in technology and business development to grow market share in existing operating countries. Flutterwave also recently partnered with the same fintech to accelerate e-Commerce in Nigeria and South Africa. In its Series C funding round, Flutterwave raised $170 million led by growth-equity firms Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management LLC with participation from new and existing investors.The company has used the funds to accelerate customer acquisition in existing and international markets, as well as develop complementary and innovative products.

In consonance with its accelerated growth plans, Flutterwave launched Flutterwave Market to enable merchants sell their goods via an online marketplace. It also launched Send, a remittance service that empowers customers to seamlessly send money to recipients to and from Africa. Flutterwave has also partnered with global and pan-African technology companies such as PayPalMTN and Airtel Africa, to drive financial inclusion on the continent and create endless possibilities for customers who can build customisable payment applications through its APIs. In addition, it has also partnered with Amole, an Ethiopian mobile Digital Wallet platform, to facilitate remittances into Ethiopia. The startup has also partnered with Standard Bank to build e-Commerce, card issuing, payments, collections, USSD, lending, and buy-now-pay-later capabilities for customers in Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Mauritius, Cote D’Ivoire and Malawi.

Flutterwave has also expanded its service offering beyond Africa with the launch of two Europe-Africa payment remittance corridors via Stellar network, to create equitable access to the global financial system. This way, customers across Europe are now able to send funds faster and at a lower cost to support their families and conduct business in Africa, landing funds right into their local bank account. In a bid to enable its merchants accurately identify legitimate buyers from fraudsters, Flutterwave also partnered with Forter, an Israeli and US- based e-Commerce fraud prevention company. Earlier this year, Flutterwave partnered with MPOWER Financing to promote student loans for international students from Africa. MPOWER Financing is a fintech firm and a provider of education loans to high-promise international students in the United States and Canada.

Late last year, Flutterwave acquired Disha, a platform that enables digital creators to curate, sell digital content, portfolios and receive payments from their audience worldwide, further enabling them to earn value for their creativity using the platform’s new payouts and collections solution. Flutterwave has also previously co-invested in CinetPay in a $2.4 million round to boost CinetPay’s sales and marketing efforts across nine markets in West and Central Africa. CinetPay is a Francophone Africa payments processor that enables merchants to seamlessly accept and make payments.

They say that numbers dont lie. Flutterwave’s accelerated growth and expansion will incontestably soar its customers and investors credence in the African continent and the fintech ecosystem at large. The increased capital funding for African startups, mainly in fintechs, is a clear indication that Flutterwave has found its niche in the digital innovation and transformation economy.

Pie Kamau is an Editor at Africa Business Communities and Startup Weekly.

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