Kenyan-based digital bank for emerging markets Umba has raised a US$2 million seed funding round to help it expand product capabilities.
The startup with currently operates in Kenya and Nigeria raised from new investors including Lachy Groom, ex-Head of Issuing at Stripe; Ludlow Ventures; Frontline Ventures and Act Venture Capital.
Umba says it provides an ecosystem of connected financial services that allows customers complete control of their finances all in one App. Using the app customers have access to a free checking account, free instant peer-to-peer money transfers, lending, deposits, BillPay, and cashback.
Umba will use the funding to scale these product offerings to meet the needs of the Nigerian and Kenyan markets.
“From the outset we built our platform to serve multiple markets, currencies and payment infrastructures. This flexibility is an extremely important consideration as it’s much harder to upgrade your systems at a later date. For example bank and debit card penetration is high in Nigeria, so Umba is deeply integrated into those payment methods, while across Kenya and East Africa mobile money is dominant so our platform is tightly integrated with those services, too. Having a platform that can service those diverse sets of needs is a key reason why Umba can scale up this business fast.” said Umba chief executive officer (CEO) Tiernan Kennedy.
Highlighting the increase in venture activity in Africa and the opportunity it brings Brett DeMarrais, Ludlow Ventures Partner said. “Umba is the first investment we’ve made in the African market and it’s one we were excited to participate in. ‘’
‘’The team at Umba have an excellent service that drives down the cost of banking for their customers and democratizes access. The move away from physical branch infrastructure was already underway and it has accelerated this year” he added.