Nigeria’s Cross-border Payment Startup Grey Gets $2 Million To Fuel Its Expansion Plans

Grey’s co-founders Idorenyin Obong and Femi Aghedo

Grey is a fintech that provides virtual international bank accounts to African freelancers and remote workers, helping them facilitate international transfers. The startup was founded in July 2020 by Idorenyin Obong and Femi Aghedo as an instant exchange service to help Nigerians exchange foreign currencies in their domiciliary account for naira.

Last year, the startup got accepted into Y Combinator’s winter batch this March after raising its pre-seed round last year. “Grey was founded to empower people to live a location-independent lifestyle. I believe that the least of your worries as a freelancer, remote worker, or digital nomad should be sending or receiving payments, so we’ve made it easy. We like to say that we’re on a mission to make international payments as easy as sending an email. We want to do impactful work to improve how Africa as a continent interacts with money across its borders,” CEO Idorenyin Obong said.

The latest funding is the startup’s seed round and Grey was able to secure $2 million in funding. The startup has been in beta for the past two months and the latest round will help it pull out of stealth and launch publicly in Nigeria and Kenya. The seed funding round received participation from investors such as Y Combinator, Soma Capital, Heirloom Fund, and True Culture Fund and angels like Alan Rutledge, Samvit Ramadurgam, and Karthik Ramakrishnan. 

Present in Nigeria and Kenya, Grey operates in Kenya via partnerships with payment titan Cellulant and edtech startup Moringa. “We went with Cellulant to power our payment infrastructure for Kenyan shillings. Moringa is like an avenue and channel for training new tech talent, so it made sense to have such a partnership as we are trying to build this for freelancers,” Grey’s CEO explained.

The platform users (People in Nigeria and Kenya, for now) can use the platform to receive payments from more than 88 countries in their USD, GBP, and EUR accounts created on the platform. Users can also choose to convert these funds into their local currencies – naira and shillings, and withdraw them. Users can also use the platform to send money to the UK and Europe. The platform has added the Ugandan shillings to its platform, bringing the total number of currencies it supports to six, and is looking to take over East Africa eventually. Grey is, however, not present in Uganda and is looking to launch there, alongside Tanzania, within a month.

Grey says it has about 100,000 individual users and claims that its transaction volumes have increased by 200 percent since it launched this year.

According to its Chief Operating Officer Femi Aghedo, the startup launched a business-focused product called Grey Business to complement its customer-focused business as well as transcend beyond remittances and individual payments. 

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