UK-based African payments firm pawaPay has raised $9 million in a seed fund round led by Chinese firm company MSA and UK-based investment fund 88mph. Other participants in the round were Vunani Capital, Kepple Ventures, and Zagadat Capital, an investment firm owned by Nigerian Oluwatosin Ajibade, popularly known as Mr. Eazi in the Nigerian music industry.
With the new funds, pawaPay plans to strengthen its mobile money payment solutions team, scale operations, and hire more talents, and foray into new African countries.
Founded in 2020, pawaPay is a subsidiary of the online betting platform betPawa which provides a unified mobile money (MoMo) API infrastructure. It enables mobile payments for local and international transactions/financial activities by integrating data from Africa’s major telcos into one mobile money API. Businesses and individuals can process payments, receive and transfer money, and pay bills via mobile.
The fintech company is building a simple API that unifies all telco-backed mobile money infrastructures and gives businesses access to more than 300 million customers in more than ten markets, eliminating the complexities of mobile money operations.
Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones across Africa, mobile money is providing essential financial services to unbanked and under-banked people. Even as widespread as conventional banking is, the number of unbanked and underbanked people is still outrageous. The World bank in 2015 placed the number of these unbanked population at over 350 million. As such, the role mobile money is playing in Africa especially, cannot in any way be downplayed.
According to pawaPay’s CEO Nikolai Barnwell, pawaPay was designed to assist people to send and receive money internationally using mobile money. “We’re making a bet that this infrastructure will continue to grow and offer a superior experience than traditional financial infrastructures such as card and banking,” Barnwell said in a statement.
Speaking about the investment, Barnwell said that the company is “excited to have world-class investors supporting our vision to connect every mobile money wallet in Africa to each other, and the rest of the world, as we continue to make it simpler to do payments.”
Founder of 88mph, Kresten Buch, said that 88mph was excited to be an investor in pawaPay, and that the company was eager to witness the development of digital infrastructure in Africa.
Nigerian superstar, entrepreneur, and CEO of Zagadat Capital, Oluwatosin Ajibade, popularly known as Mr. Eazi, said that he was confident in his company’s investment in pawaPay. “Being investors hugely focused on Africa and very familiar with the landscape, we believe that mobile money-focused fintech is not just one of the most exciting places to invest but also one of the most important bridges to ensuring financial inclusion of the billions of people across the continent. The kicker for us was that we believe in the clear mission, vision, and strategy and we are confident that the pawaPay team is the best team to achieve it,” he said.
Currently, pawaPay’s beta version is available in ten African countries: Cameroon, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. With transactions worth $1.2 billion and a presence in 10 countries, pawaPay is surely positioning itself as a market leader in the mobile money payments sector, as it focuses on delivering reliability and transparency to its customers.