Another Unicorn had birth in Africa. Yes. African payments company Flutterwave announced that it has closed $170 million, valuing the company over $1 billion.
New and existing investors who participated include DST Global, Early Capital Berrywood, Green Visor Capital, Greycroft Capital, Insight Ventures, PayPal, Salesforce Ventures, Tiger Management, Worldpay FIS 9yards Capital.
The Series C round comes a year after Flutterwave closed its $35 million Series B and $20 million Series A in 2018. In total, Flutterwave has raised $225 million and is one of the few African startups to have secured more than $200 million in funding.
Launched in 2016 as a Nigerian and U.S.-based payments company with offices in Lagos and San Francisco, Flutterwave helps businesses build customizable payments applications through its APIs.
When the company raised its Series B, we reported that Flutterwave had processed 107 million transactions worth $5.4 billion. Right now, those numbers have increased to over 140 million transactions worth more than $9 billion. The company, which also helps businesses outside Africa to expand their operations on the continent, has an impressive clientele of international companies, including Booking.com, Facebook, Flywire and Uber.
Flutterwave says more than 290,000 businesses use its platform to carry out payments.
And according to the company’s statement, they can do so “in 150 currencies and multiple payment modes including local and international cards, mobile wallets, bank transfers, Barter by Flutterwave.”
While its website shows an active presence in 11 African countries, Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola, also known as GB, said that the company is live in 20 African countries with an infrastructure reach in over 33 countries on the continent.
Agboola says his company grew more than 100% in revenue within the past year due to the pandemic without giving specifics on numbers. It also contributed to its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 226% from 2018.
According to the CEO, this growth resulted from an increase in activities in “COVID beneficiary sectors” — a term used by Flutterwave to describe sectors positively impacted by the pandemic. They include streaming, gaming, remittance and e-commerce, among others. Agboola adds that the company plans to ride on these sectors’ growth and continue in that trajectory.
Besides, Flutterwave’s response in introducing the Flutterwave Store for merchants during pandemic-induced lockdowns was instrumental as well. The product, which went live across 15 African countries, helps over 20,000 merchants to create storefronts and sell their products online.
Flutterwave wants to become a global payments company, and the Series C investment helps to reach that goal. The company says it plans to use the funds to speed up customer acquisition in its present markets. It will also improve existing product offerings like Barter, where it has over 500,000 users, and introduce new offerings. One such is Flutterwave Mobile, which in the founder’s words “will turn merchants’ mobile devices into a point of sale, allowing them to accept payments and make sales.”
In a statement, Agboola gives credit to the company’s more than 300 staff, investors, customers and regulatory bodies like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for creating the backbone for Flutterwave’s success.
“Flutterwave, for instance, launched when the governor just came in. We got our license and scaled our business because of a favourable regime that allowed it to be possible. There are so many trailblazing innovations that we don’t talk about a lot about Nigeria, like the BVN and the NIP system. Nigeria has consistently been at the forefront of payments innovation for over a decade, and it was all possible because of the forward-looking CBN policies,” he said.
“We believe in payments in partnership as you have to partner to scale. So, if in the course of making partnerships and scaling and we identify promising companies with a similar ethos and have our vision in mind, that is in making Africa a country, an acquisition isn’t off the table,” he said.
After capturing much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Agboola says Flutterwave’s next plan is to go live in North Africa. There, it will likely face competition from a local leader, Fawry, but that doesn’t matter. The African fintech market is large enough to accommodate multiple players.
“We look forward to increasing our investments across the continent and deepening the impact our platform has on lives and livelihoods as we take more businesses in Africa to the world, and at the same time continue to bring more of the world to Africa,” he said.