Tanzanian cross-border payments company, NALA, which recently transitioned from local to international money transfers, said on Thursday, January 28th that it has raised $10 million in a fresh round of funding.
The seed round follows a seven-figure pre-seed round led by Accel in 2019, roughly three years ago. It created a mobile money business in East Africa during that time and grew it to over 250,000 subscribers. After several users expressed interest in sending money from the United Kingdom to East African countries (Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania), NALA began testing international money transfers in 2021, initiating Tanzanian fintech into the remittance market.
Since launching the product last year, NALA has seen significant growth. Payments to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ghana are now possible using the platform. Over 8,000 customers have shifted over eight figures in transaction volume to Africa in the last six months.
“Our key consumer base right now is the diaspora who dwell in the United Kingdom,” NALA’s CEO Benjamin Fernandes stated in a press conference. Adding that “As we speak, this is the consumer we’re currently serving. We also received license clearances to go live in the United States and the European Union, which will go live in at least one other E.U. country, most likely France, in a month and a half.”
Jonas Templestein, co-founder and CTO of Monzo; Vladimir Tenev, Robinhood co-founder and CEO; Deel founder Alex Bouaziz; Laura Spiekerman, co-founder of Alloy; Peeyush Ranjan, the head of Google Payments; and early employees at Revolut and TransferWise were among the angel investors.
NALA was founded in 2017 by Benjamin Fernandes and works as an interface on top of mobile money payment systems, allowing users to make transfers, payments, and transactions seven times faster without the usage of data.
NALA, which is now active in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, and South Africa, wants to expand to 12 African countries by the end of the year, including Nigeria, according to the chief executive.
- NALA’s easily achievable goal is remittance. According to Fernandes, the company has more products in the works that are similar to Revolut’s when it originally began in the United Kingdom. The European fintech unicorn, which is now a sort of financial super app, began by offering multi-currency bank accounts, fee-free currency exchange, peer-to-peer payments, and a business feature.
Similarly, NALA is privately beta testing multi-currency accounts that will allow the African diaspora to store local African currencies while abroad, in addition to enabling cross-border payments from the UK (and the US and the EU) to Africa. It is also now testing NALA for Businesses, which allows diaspora business owners to send remittances to Africa. “We’re expanding that up, not just as a consumer-facing product in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.”
However, in the long run, we want to establish infrastructure across Africa so that we can perform outbound trade and allow individuals to transfer money back. “We’ve applied for remittance licenses in both Kenya and Uganda so that we may do this the other way around,” stated the founder.
According to Fernandes, NALA will launch a crowdfunding campaign this year as part of its user acquisition and retention efforts, in which its early adopters will be able to purchase stock in the company. Similar African money transfer providers, such as Eversend, have made similar moves in recent years. NALA’s executive team includes Nicolas Esteves (CTO) and Nicolai Eddy (COO), who have previously worked at Monzo, Osper, and Morningstar.
“We don’t want to be mistaken for a traditional remittance provider, and people will naturally make that comparison.” “However, we believe that remittance is only the beginning of what we’ll build,” Fernandes said. “In my opinion, payments are only 1% developed across the continent, and there is a lot of infrastructure and software that needs to be created deeply.” That’s where we want to be, and the $10 million round will help us get there.”
Subuola Abraham, a former Citi U.K. MLRO and the group chief compliance officer of pan-African bank Guaranty Trust Bank, has been hired to oversee the company’s compliance efforts.It also signed an agreement with Citi Bank Global to manage its foreign exchange and accelerate growth across multiple regions, making it one of the few African tech companies to do so. Sheel Tyle, the creator and general partner of Amplo, will join NALA’s board of directors, according to a statement from the firm.
NALA will be able to hire more people and support expansion efforts in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe, as well as establish payment rails in Africa and expand into new countries, thanks to the financing. “We don’t want to be mistaken for a traditional remittance provider, and people will naturally make that comparison.” “However, we believe that remittance is only the beginning of what we’ll build,” Fernandes said.
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