Ozow, a payment gateway based in South Africa, has secured $48 million in Series B investment in a round led by Chinese fintech Tencent. The funding boosts the company’s total capital raised to more than $51 million. The company said the funding will be used to promote fintech regulation – particularly open banking – to help more people gain access to payment services. The new capital will also enable the seven-year old fintech to enter new markets throughout sub-Saharan Africa and add employees. Namibia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria are among the countries Ozow is currently targeting for expansion.
Co-founded by current CEO Thomas Pays, Ozow enables consumers to pay for transactions directly from their bank accounts. This kind of service has special potential in a country like South Africa where only 20% of those who have bank accounts have and use credit cards. Ozow has six million users of its technology and Pays claims that the company is adding 140,000 users and processing $100 million in transactions every month.
Also participating in Ozow’s latest round were Endeavor Catalyst and Endeavor Harvest Fund.
Using Ozow is straightforward. Consumers choose Ozow as a payment option when making purchases either online or in-person. Then they select their bank, log in with their online banking credentials, and allow Ozow to automate the actual payment process. Free to use for individual consumers, merchants are able to use Ozow’s platform for free for the first 12 months – or a maximum of $65,000 in processing value each month. In order to receive payments, merchants only need a bank account and a smartphone or similar device. Ozow includes Vodacom, MTN, Takealot, and Uber among its enterprise clients.
Pays said that his team had been “engaging with Tencent” since the spring, and that the company understood “the scale and opportunity” available in investing in a company like Ozow.
“It’s an honor to bring on board Tencent, Endeavor Catalyst, and Endeavor Harvest Fund,” Pays said in a statement. “This is a validation of our role in transforming the banking industry through the development of innovative, convenient, and more inclusive payment solutions for everyone.”
Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.
Middle East and Northern Africa
- Pakistan-based financial wellness platform, Abhi, secured $30 million in pre-Series A funding.
- Tel Aviv, Israel-based chargeback mitigation company Justt emerged from stealth with $70 million in funding.
- Al Baraka Islamic Bank of Bahrain announced a partnership with digital banking platform provider Layer.
Central and Southern Asia
- Indian digital financial solution provider Comviva forged a strategic partnership with Strands.
- Pakistan-based housing fintech Trellis picked up an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A round featuring participation from Fatima Gobi Ventures.
- Savyour, a Pakistan-based fintech that offers the country’s first cashback app, raised $3.3 million in seed funding.
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Mexican digital financial service provider Stori raised $200 million in financing.
- Contxto looked at the role played by Mexico and Argentina in driving fintech innovation in Latin America.
- Argentina-based exchange Buenbit introduced crypto trading on its app in Peru.
- Malaysian payments network PayNet and Bank Negara Malaysia collaborate on cross-border payments.
- Philippines-based alternative credit scoring provider FinScore earned recognition at Global SFF FinTech Awards in Singapore.
- Singapore-based corporate services platform Sleek locked in $14 million in Series A funding in a round led by Jungle Ventures and White Star Capital.
- Nigerian consumer credit company CredPal launched its point-of-sale financing solution CredPal Pay.
- JUNO, a fintech headquartered in South Africa, secured $120 million in new funding, earning a valuation of $400 million.
- Paga, a payments company based in Nigeria, announced a partnership with proximity verification company LISNR to support authentication via contactless ultrasound.
Central and Eastern Europe
- Bulgarian software-as-a-service company Crypto API launched its Wallet-as-a-Service solution for SMEs, businesses, and institutions.
- German digital bank N26 announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. in January.
- Australian Buy Now Pay Later firm Zip completed its acquisition of Czech BNPL company, Twisto.