VertoFX, an African currency trading and payment startup, today announced that it has secured $10 million in a Series A financing round. The round was led by Quona Capital and had the participation of other investors including The Treasury, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), TMT Investments, Unicorn Growth Capital, Zrosk Investments, and P1 Ventures.
VertoFX is a global B2B payments platform that allows businesses and banks to exchange and make payments in exotic foreign currencies that don’t often convert or trade conveniently across businesses or banks. Founded in 2017 by Ola Oyetayo and Anthony Oduwole — both ex-global bankers born in Nigeria, VertoFX utilizes technology to create a marketplace model and price discovery to create liquidity for these currencies that may be difficult or expensive to trade or transact B2B payments. The company is based in London, with a subsidiary in Lagos, Nigeria, and was part of Y Combinator’s 2019 winter cohort.
Initially, VertoFX acted as a currency exchange marketplace to help businesses transact illiquid currencies into liquid pairs. But upon gaining traction and securing enough capital, it ventured into cross-border payments. “We’ve now evolved more from not just being a currency exchange marketplace to a full suite of cross border payments products for businesses,” VertoFX’s Chief Executive Officer, Ola Oyetayo said.
On the VertoFX platform, businesses can exchange money in over 200 countries across 39 currencies. Users including freelancers, small and medium business owners, and corporations can send cross-border B2B payments at FX rates up to nine times cheaper than they could through traditional banks, and most importantly, without a fee.
Similar to most fintech companies, the company has benefited from a global shift of people moving to digital methods of payments and the fact that more homogeneous businesses in Africa are transacting with each other through digital channels. According to Ola Oyetayo, since the start of the pandemic, VertoFX’s user base and revenue have grown 11 times and 8 times respectively, without giving specific numbers.
In a statement, Monica Brand Engel, the Co-founder and Managing Partner at lead investor Quona Capital, praised VertoFX’s approach to addressing problems businesses face with low visibility, slow speeds and high costs of cross-border payments. VertoFX is doing “important and impactful work,” she said.
Before the end of the year, VertoFX expects to increase the list of currencies on its platform to 51, Chief Technology Officer, Anthony Oduwole, said. The company will channel the new funds into achieving that while building its platform to enable businesses to move money across borders more efficiently.
The startup also has plans to accelerate its geographical expansion into more markets in Africa and the Middle East. “We want to get to a point in the future where someone can easily swap a Ghanian cedi to rand without having to transact with dollars or euros,” the founders said. They also pointed out that the company is in a way driving financial inclusion for businesses that could not move money without going to a bank. “VertoFX is placing businesses in underserved regions on an even playing field as their counterparts in developed markets,” said Chief Executive Officer Ola Oyetayo. “Ultimately, we want to help a business in an emerging market send money to another business elsewhere, as easy as sending a text message,” he added.
VertoFX is registered as a payment services provider with the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority. Current clients include several undisclosed banks and San Francisco-based payment firm Flutterwave.