African payments company Flutterwave announced that it has closed $170 million, valuing the company over $1 billion.
New York-based private investment firm Avenir Growth Capital and U.S. hedge fund and investment firm Tiger Global led the Series C round. New and existing investors who participated include DST Global, Early Capital Berrywood, Green Visor Capital, Greycroft Capital, Insight Ventures, PayPal, Salesforce Ventures, Tiger Management, Worldpay FIS 9yards Capital.
Flutterwave says more than 290,000 businesses use its platform to carry out payments. And according to the company’s statement, they can do so “in 150 currencies and multiple payment modes including local and international cards, mobile wallets, bank transfers, Barter by Flutterwave.”
Last year was a pivotal one for the five-year-old company. Its second investment came just in time before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Africa, negatively impacting some businesses but not payments companies like Flutterwave.
Agboola says his company grew more than 100% in revenue within the past year due to the pandemic without giving specifics on numbers. It also contributed to its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 226% from 2018. According to the CEO, this growth resulted from an increase in activities in “COVID beneficiary sectors” — a term used by Flutterwave to describe sectors positively impacted by the pandemic. They include streaming, gaming, remittance and e-commerce, among others. Agboola adds that the company plans to ride on these sectors’ growth and continue in that trajectory.
Besides, Flutterwave’s response in introducing the Flutterwave Store for merchants during pandemic-induced lockdowns was instrumental as well. The product, which went live across 15 African countries, helps over 20,000 merchants to create storefronts and sell their products online.Flutterwave wants to become a global payments company, and the Series C investment helps to reach that goal. The company says it plans to use the funds to speed up customer acquisition in its present markets. It will also improve existing product offerings like Barter, where it has over 500,000 users, and introduce new offerings. One such is Flutterwave Mobile, which in the founder’s words “will turn merchants’ mobile devices into a point of sale, allowing them to accept payments and make sales.”
In a statement, Agboola gives credit to the company’s more than 300 staff, investors, customers and regulatory bodies like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for creating the backbone for Flutterwave’s success.For some, it would come off as strange that the CEO mentioned the last stakeholder given the unfavourable and questionable regulations it has recently placed on fintechs in Nigeria.However, Agboola thinks the reverse is the case. He makes a bold statement by saying that under the current CBN governor’s administration, the Central Bank has shown a consistent regulatory framework that has allowed fintechs like Flutterwave to thrive.
“Flutterwave, for instance, launched when the governor just came in. We got our license and scaled our business because of a favourable regime that allowed it to be possible.