Maplerad, a Nigerian banking-as-a-service startup has secured $6 million in its seed funding round. The funding round was led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, making it the VC’s third investment in an African startup, after Kuda and Yellow Card. Other participants in the seed funding round include; Fintech Fund, Armyn Capital, Dunbar Capital, Strawhat Investment, Polymath Capital Golden Palm Investment Corporation, MyAsiaVC, Unpopular Ventures, Sean Mahsoul, former COO of Venmo Michael Vaugh, Kuda’s CEO Babs Ogundeyi, and the startup’s own founders. The startup is coming out of stealth following the funding round. Maplerad’s valuation now stands at $30 million, according to sources. Its founders, however, failed to make a comment on the company’s valuation.
Maplerad was founded by Miracle Anyanwu and Obinna Chukwujioke who describe the startup as a global BaaS player targeted at Africa. It launched its first product called Wirepay in 2020. Wirepay allows users to make cross-border payments using fiat money and cryptocurrency. Wirepay has now evolved into a self-acclaimed all-in-one finance product – users can use the product to send, receive, hold, make payments, pay bills, etc., using multiple currencies. They can also create virtual cards and request physical cards linked to their accounts.
In 2021, Wirepay held an undisclosed pre-seed round that saw investors like Golden Palm Investments Corporation, Greenhouse Capital, OnDeck, etc., participate. According to co-founder Miracle Anyanwu, as WirePay grew to more than 50,000 users (most of these users are Nigerians), businesses wanted to know about the in-house infrastructure that powered the features on Wirepay’s consumer app. “People wanted to use the infrastructure powering Wirepay, our license coverages, and banking relationships,” he said. He also added that it has always been the intention of the parent company Maplerad to provide this infrastructure for other businesses. And they finally decided to do this when the demand for it became very apparent. Maplerad planned to launch Maplerad, an infrastructure product that enabled companies and businesses to embed financial features like accounts, payments, FX, and cards into their products, in beta mode this August.
“From day one, when we built Wirepay for our consumers, we knew the end move would be infrastructural even though we didn’t start the business infrastructure first. For anyone to build anything finance-related, they have a whole lot of banking stack that they have to start with, and even before integrating features, they have to go past many hurdles. One of them is banking relationships and compliance. The other is licensing. So Maplerad is solving financial infrastructure problems for these businesses in Africa. We handle that whole stack and provide the best-in-class APIs to use that can make you launch a financial product within five minutes. So instead of a company spending 8 months and a couple of million dollars to start building a fintech product, you can integrate with our APIs and go live,” the CEO and co-founder said.
Banking-as-a-service is becoming popular with businesses and a handful of companies existing in the continent include Fluttwerwave, OnePipe, and YC-banked Anchor. Talking about what gives it the edge over others, Maplerad founders highlighted the platform’s wider range of banking relationships, its institutional partners and investors, and a tech second to none.
“There’s a huge opportunity for Maplerad which is the best-in-class banking as a service solution to provide businesses with the financial infrastructure to scale across Africa and globally quickly and seamlessly,” James Fitzgerald, a partner at Valar Ventures said.