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 Partners, Salesforce Ventures, Tiger Management, Worldpay FIS and 9yards Capital.
The Series C round comes a year after Flutterwave closed its $35 million Series B and $20 million Series A in 2018. In total, Flutterwave has raised $225 million and is one of the few African startups to have secured more than $200 million in funding.
Launched in 2016 as a Nigerian and U.S.-based payments company with offices in Lagos and San Francisco, Flutterwave helps businesses build customizable payments applications through its APIs.
When the company raised its Series B, Flutterwave had processed 107 million transactions worth $5.4 billion. Right now, those numbers have increased to over 140 million transactions worth more than $9 billion. The company, which also helps businesses outside Africa to expand their operations on the continent, has an impressive clientele of international companies, including Booking.com, Flywire and Uber.
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.”
While its website shows an active presence in 11 African countries, Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola, says the company is live in 20 African countries with an infrastructure reach in over 33 countries on the continent.
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 Agboola, this growth resulted from an increase in activities in “COVID beneficiary sectors” — a term used by Flutterwave to describe sectors positivelyimpacted 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.
After capturing much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Agboola says Flutterwave’s next plan is to go live in North Africa. There, it will likely face competition from a local leader, Fawry, but that doesn’t matter. The African fintech market is large enough to accommodate multiple players.
That’s one reason why it has also been a popular bet with investors. The sector, which is both local and international investors’ top destination, attracted between 25% to 31% of the total VC funding last year from varying sources.