Over the years, agency banking has grown to become a major category in the financial space. Thanks to their network of physical agents across vast geographical locations, agency banking has grown to become a huge solution to capturing the unbanked and underbanked in rural and semi-urban locations.
NowNow Digital Systems, an agency banking fintech startup has secured seed funding of $13 million which it plans to scale its offerings as well as expand across Africa.
The seed funding round received participation from Dubai-based venture capital firm and studio NeoVision Ventures, India-based DLF Family Office, and Shadi Abdulhadi.
NowNow was launched in 2016 and was founded by CEO Sahir Berry and Mahesh Nair with the aim of providing financial solutions to tackle the issues associated with financial inclusion and creating jobs. These are two of Nigeria’s and Africa’s biggest challenges. According to its CEO, the startup launched a mobile wallet in late 2017 but decided after this offering that it needed to expand its tech and this was what set the stage for the startup. “Doing that and building our proprietary IP ourselves changed our business. So starting, we provided digital banking solutions to consumers and businesses. But today, we’re fast becoming an embedded finance platform,” CEO Sahir Berry said.
NowNow plans to use its newly acquired funds to also grow its platform, its marketing strategies, and its team. The startup will also be unveiling new products to enhance its existing consumer banking, agency banking, and merchant payment solutions. The startup was recently shortlisted to participate in the Mastercard Start Path Global program intended for startups in their seed, Series A, and later-stage stages. The startup plans to expand to countries like Angola and Liberia where fintechs hardly move to. “We want to work in countries where we find that the infrastructure is paralyzed and requires fintech to step in and see what solutions can be provided to solve the situation. Angola is one of those places where we found that the digital payment space is pretty far behind and we might launch there over the next month. Liberia is another country where we are gearing up to set operations,” the startup’s CEO said.
The startup claims to have built an end-to-end financial products ecosystem that is assisting agents, individuals consumers, and small businesses. Its core product involves more than 50,000 agents across Nigeria providing financial services like sending money, receiving money, and paying bills. This product is similar to OPay, etc. Its consumer-targeted offering allows people to send and receive money, pay bills, and access value-added services such as insurance and loan offers via its eponymous app is similar to platforms like Carbon, Kuda, FairMoney, etc.
NowNow’s CEO said that the startup plans to stand out via the development of NFC-enabled tech which will provide tap-in functionality within its ecosystem of products. This will allow users to be able to use virtual or physical cards against an NFC-enabled POS or phone. This way wallet to wallet payment via tap will be possible. This offering has already been provided to select businesses in an ongoing pilot testing stage.
NowNow also provides small businesses will with an all-in-one business-in-a-box that houses all the tools and value-added services required by SMEs. “It’s an end-to-end integrated platform for SMEs, including logistics and we are the first company in Nigeria to provide such an end-to-end platform,” CEO Sahir Berry said adding that “Going beyond that because we’ve built all this technology and own the IP for it, we’ve also become a BaaS company providing our product to multiple fintechs in Nigeria and Africa. We also have renowned financial institutions that use our products to offer a white-label solution to their customers. So that mitigates the risk in that we are playing in the consumer and the B2B space.”
NowNow says it serves up to 200,000 customers and is looking to raise that to a million by the year’s end. The startup is looking to offer its business-in-a-box solution which includes its NFC-enabled technology, to around 5,000 SMEs before the year comes to an end. “We’re on track to transact a GMV of about $5 billion by the end of this year across all platforms,” CEO Sahir Berry added.