Interswitch, a Nigerian digital payments company that is Africa’s second unicorn, has raised $110 million to help it expand, according to multiple news reports.
The strategic investment came from LeapFrog Investment and Tana Africa Capital, which will work with Interswitch to “advance the payment ecosystem across the continent,” according to a Thursday (May 12) news release,
Founded 10 years ago by Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch provides electronic payments processing and switching services through its brands Verve, a debit card offering, and Quickteller, a multichannel consumer and business payments platform.
“We are excited to welcome LeapFrog and Tana on board, as we continue our work to advance the future of the African payments landscape,” Elegbe said. “The evolution of FinTech in Nigeria and the broader sub-Saharan region has been driven by the need to solve challenges and barriers that exist within the traditional financial system.”
Interswitch reached unicorn status — meaning its valuation topped $1 billion — in 2019, following a $200 million investment from Visa that gave that company a 20% stake in the Nigerian firm.
As PYMNTS reported last month, Interswitch is operating at a time when Nigeria’s government has set a target of 95% financial inclusion by 2024, in a country where 36% of adults are financially excluded.
Interswitch seems to be working to turn things around with tools like the Quickteller platform, which gives users access to a network of banking agents — often referred to as “human ATMs” — across all 36 states in Nigeria, offering bill payments, airtime recharge, funds transfer and remittance services to customers.
Titilola Shogaolu, head of financial inclusion at Interswitch, told PYMNTS that the agency banking model, which is widely popular throughout the West African nation, has played a crucial role in promoting financial inclusion, transforming the lives of these agents by driving up retail store foot traffic and driving a positive impact on their income and bottom lines.
“They’ve become socially relevant within their community because they are now the go-to person for all financial services needs that people in their local communities have,” Shogaolu said. “And beyond financial services transactions, they also tend to offer other non-financial services transactions at their location, so invariably, they become a one-stop shop [for all their customers’ needs].”