Africa Roundup: Nigerian fintech gets $360M, mints unicorn, draws Chinese VC

November 2019 could symbol when Nigeria (arguably) became Africa’s unaccepted collateral for fintech investment and digital financial startups.

The month saw $360 million invested in Nigerian focused remuneration ventures. That is homogeneous to roughly one-third of all a startup VC lifted for a whole continent in 2018, according to Partech stats.

A important trend-within-the-trend is that some-more than half — or $170 million — of a appropriation to Nigerian fintech ventures in Nov came from Chinese investors. This outlines a focus in China’s rendezvous with Africa to tech. We’ll get to that.

Before a large Chinese corroborated rounds, one of Nigeria’s beginning fintech companies, Interswitch, reliable a $1 billion gratefulness after Visa took a minority interest in a company. Interswitch would not divulge a volume to TechCrunch, though Sky News reporting pegged it during $200 million for 20%.

Founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch pioneered a infrastructure to technology Nigeria’s afterwards primarily paper-ledger and cash-based economy.

The association now provides many of a tech-wiring for Nigeria’s online banking complement that serves Africa’s largest economy and population. Interswitch offers a series of personal and business financial products, including a Verve payment cards and Quickteller remuneration app.

The financial services organisation has stretched a earthy participation to Uganda, Gambia and Kenya . The Nigerian association also sells a products in 23 African countries and launched a partnership in Aug for Verve cardholders to make payments on Discover’s global network.

Visa and Interswitch touted a equity investment as a vital partnership between a dual companies, but a lot of fact on what that will mean.

One indicate TechCrunch did tighten down is Interswitch’s (long-awaited) and approaching IPO. A source tighten to a matter pronounced a association will list on a vital sell by mid-2020.

For a nearby to medium-term, Interswitch could mount as Africa’s solitary tech-unicorn, as e-commerce try Jumia’s flighty share-price and disappearing market-cap — given an Apr IPO — have forsaken a company’s gratefulness subsequent $1 billion.

Nigeria’s Interswitch confirms $1B gratefulness after Visa investment

Circling behind to China, Nov was a month that signaled Chinese actors are all in on African tech.

In dual apart rounds, Chinese investors put $220 million into OPay and PalmPay — dual fledgling startups with skeleton to scale in Nigeria and a broader continent.

PalmPay, a consumer oriented payments product, went live final month with a $40 million seed-round (one of a largest in Africa in 2019) led by Africa’s biggest mobile-phone seller — China’s Transsion.

The startup was upfront about a ambitions, saying a goals to turn “Africa’s largest financial services platform,” in a association release.

To that end, PalmPay conveniently entered a vital partnership with a lead investor. The startup’s remuneration app will come pre-installed on Transsion’s mobile device brands, such as Tecno, in Africa — for an estimated strech of 20 million phones.

PalmPay also launched in Ghana in Nov and a UK and Africa formed CEO, Greg Reeve, reliable skeleton to enhance to additional African countries in 2020.

OPay’s $120 million Series B was announced several days after a PalmPay news and came usually months after a mobile-based fintech try lifted $50 million.

Founded by Chinese owned consumer internet association Opera — and corroborated by 9 Chinese investors — OPay is a remuneration application for a apartment of Opera grown internet formed blurb products in Nigeria. These embody ride-hail apps ORide and OCar and food smoothness use OFood.

With a latest Series A, OPay announced it would enhance in Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana.

Though it wasn’t fintech, Chinese investors also backed a (reported) $30 million Series B for East African trucking logistics association Lori Systems in November.

With OPay, PalmPay, and Lori Systems, startups in Africa have lifted a total $240 million from 15 Chinese investors in a camber of months.

There are a series of things to note and watch out for here, as TechCrunch stating has bright (and will continue to do in follow-on coverage).

These moves symbol a subsequent section in China’s rendezvous in Africa and could lift some new issues. Hereto, a country’s communication with Africa’s tech ecosystem has been comparatively light compared to China’s deal-making on infrastructure and commodities.

There continues to be copiousness of debate (and critique) of China’s purpose in Africa. This new digital-phase will positively supplement a uninformed member to all that. One thing to lane will be data-privacy and national-security concerns that might emerge around Chinese actors investing heavily in African mobile consumer platforms.

We’ve seen lines (allegedly) blur on these matters between Chinese state and private-sector actors with companies such as Huawei.

As OPera and PalmPay expand, they might need to do some calming of African regulators as countries (such as Kenya) settle some-more grave consumer insurance protocols for digital platforms.

One some-more thing to follow on OPay’s appropriation and designed enlargement is a border to that it puts Opera (and a whole apartment of consumer internet products) in foe with mixed actors in Africa’s startup ecosystem. Opera’s Africa ventures could go conduct to conduct with Uber, Jumia, and M-Pesa — a mobile money-product that put Kenya out front on digital financial in Africa before Nigeria.

Opera’s Africa fintech startup OPay gains $120M from Chinese investors

Shifting behind to American rendezvous in African tech, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey was on a continent in November. No earlier than he’d finished his initial trip, Dorsey announced skeleton to pierce to Africa in 2020, for 3 to 6 months, saying on Twitter “Africa will conclude a destiny (especially a bitcoin one!).”

We still don’t know many about what this final outing — or his destiny incursion — meant in terms of petrify partnerships, investment, or marketplace moves in Africa from Dorsey and his companies.

He visited Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia and met with leaders during Nigeria’s CcHub (Bosun Tijani), Ethiopia’s Ice Addis (Markos Lemma), and did some meetings with fintech founders in Lagos (Paga’s Tayo Oviosu).

I know many of a organizations and people Dorsey talked to flattering good and zero has jarred out nonetheless in terms of partnership or investment news from his new trip.

On what could come out of Dorsey’s 2020 pierce to Africa, per his twitter and news highlighted in this roundup, a good gamble would be it will have something to with fintech and Square.

More Africa-related stories @TechCrunch

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