Over the last few years, there have been conversations around PayPal being unfriendly to its users, mainly freelancers in Africa. Users in countries like Kenya have always complained about their funds being withheld by the payments platform for no reason or even their accounts being suspended. We even have a podcast episode on that which you can listen to here.
One fintech startup, Grey is trying to address these concerns. The startup which allows users to send and receive money from abroad this week announced that it is expanding to East Africa, kicking off with Kenya through a partnership with Cellulant.
Grey, a Y-combinator backed fintech startup, offers a unique international money transfer service that enables its users to send and receive international payments without restrictions quickly. Cellulant is the company’s payments processor powering its payouts to thousands of Grey’s customers.
With Grey users can create a virtual foreign USD, GBP, and EUR bank account for free and receive payments and convert directly to Kenya Shillings or the Nigerian Naira. The instant currency exchange service enables customers to have virtual international bank accounts for free, helping small businesses, freelancers, remote workers, and content creators in Kenya to enjoy a seamless payment process.
“We are now enabling Kenyans to make and receive international payments via the foreign accounts Grey provides from the comfort of their homes. Grey’s expansion to Kenya will replace the need for Kenyan residents and visitors to jump from app to app and make receiving foreign payments and converting directly to Kenya shillings easier.” Mr Idorenyin Obong, Grey’s CEO says.
Today, thousands of young Kenyans access work opportunities through digital platforms in a rapidly growing gig economy. The online gig economy is fuelled by a burgeoning young workforce, internet and smartphone penetration, and mobile money proliferation. With Africa having the youngest workforce yet with high unemployment rates, online gig work provides alternative and accessible employment opportunities and a path to economic prosperity for the youthful workforce.
It was in this environment that Grey was conceptualised. Mr Idorenyin worked remotely for international companies but faced numerous challenges in accessing the foreign currency in his accounts. Grey was launched in 2021 by Idorenyin Obong and Femi Aghedo, who wanted to help Nigerians easily exchange to local currency and access the foreign currencies in their accounts.
In Kenya, users can get paid in their preferred foreign currency and withdraw directly to M-Pesa or their local bank account.
Commenting on the partnership, Cellulant’s Chief Revenue Officer, David Waithaka, said, “We’re thrilled that Grey has come into play in this space connecting gig workers to a global economy by providing a relevant currency exchange platform. Their work ties closely to our mission of creating opportunities that accelerate economic growth for all of Africa. We’re proud to power their payments in Kenya and enable seamless digital transactions.”
Grey’s services are now available in Kenya and Nigeria with this launch via the Grey website and will soon be available on the app stores.