NowNow raises $13M seed, plans to scale its ecosystem of monetary merchandise throughout Africa

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In 2011, the Nigerian authorities launched a monetary inclusion initiative and set a goal to incorporate 80% of the nation’s grownup inhabitants. Although solely a goal of 64% was met by the top of the last decade, one optimistic from the train is that attaining monetary inclusion throughout the nation remains to be a steady course of that has seen fintechs participate alongside banks lately.

Agency banking upstarts are the primary innovators on this area. Their branchless banking system, which incorporates hundreds of bodily brokers, supplies monetary providers to the unbanked and underbanked in rural and semi-urban areas. NowNow Digital Systems, one such platform launched in 2018, has raised $13 million in a seed spherical that may permit the four-year-old startup to scale and broaden its service choices throughout Africa.

When CEO Sahir Berry and his co-founder Mahesh Nair based NowNow in 2016, they wished to offer options to monetary inclusion and job creation, two of essentially the most vital ache factors they thought have been going through Nigeria and the remainder of the continent. According to Berry, in partnership with a overseas third-party companion, NowNow launched a cell pockets in late 2017 however quickly realized it wanted to construct out its tech, which set the stage for going to market the next 12 months. “Doing that and building our proprietary IP ourselves changed our business,” the chief govt stated. “So starting, we provided digital banking solutions to consumers and businesses. But today, we’re fast becoming an embedded finance platform.”

NowNow claims to have constructed an end-to-end ecosystem of monetary merchandise catering to brokers, particular person customers and small companies. Its flagship product, much like different company banking platforms akin to OPay, TeamApt, and Nomba, includes over 50,000 brokers throughout the nation who present Nigerians monetary providers like sending and receiving cash and paying payments. The fintech additionally has a consumer-facing product the place folks can ship and obtain cash, pay payments and entry value-added providers akin to insurance coverage and lending by way of a debit card and a pockets in an app. The service is accessible to customers with smartphones and have telephones; nonetheless, for the latter, they would wish to go to brokers to entry different providers, stated Berry. Similar digital banking suppliers on this section embrace the likes of Kuda, Carbon and FairMoney.

According to Berry, NowNow needs to set itself aside from the competitors with the event of NFC-enabled tech that may permit tap-in performance inside its ecosystem of merchandise the place customers can use digital or bodily playing cards in opposition to an NFC-enabled telephone or POS and faucet from pockets to pockets utilizing two telephones. This product has been made obtainable to a couple small companies to check in a pilot part. On the opposite hand, NowNow usually supplies these SMEs with a business-in-a-box platform with instruments and value-added providers akin to a storefront and a market.

“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,” stated Berry. Going past that, as a result of we’ve constructed all this know-how and personal the IP for it, we’ve additionally develop into a BaaS firm offering our product to a number of fintechs in Nigeria and Africa. We even have famend monetary establishments that use our merchandise to supply a white-label resolution to their clients. So that mitigates the danger in that we’re taking part in within the shopper and the B2B area.”

NowNow is focusing on 5,000 SMEs with its business-in-a-box resolution, together with the NFC-enabled tech, by 12 months’s finish. On the patron aspect of issues, the fintech claims to serve as much as 200,000 clients; it hopes to extend that quantity to 1 million by December. “We’re on track to transact a GMV of about $5 billion by the end of this year across all platforms,” Berry added.

With the newly secured funds, NowNow plans to develop its platform, group and advertising and marketing for the dimensions the corporate is “now ready to embrace.” The fintech, just lately chosen to participate in the Mastercard Start Path Global program for seed, Series A and later-stage startups, additionally needs to introduce new merchandise to reinforce its current shopper banking, company banking, and service provider fee options and broaden into African international locations that fintechs from Nigeria not often transfer to: Angola and Liberia.

“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 seed spherical welcomed participation from a number of companies, together with lead buyers Dubai-based enterprise capital agency and studio NeoVision Ventures, India-based DLF Family Office and Shadi Abdulhadi.

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