Tanzanian fintech, NALA, has raised $10 million in a fundraising round. NALA is a cross-border payment company that recently pivoted its services from local to international money transfers.
Investors in this funding round include Amplo, Accel, and Bessemer Partners, with local investors like DFS Lab. Also partaking are angel investors Jonas Templestein of Monzo; Vladimir Tenev, co-founder and CEO of Robinhood; Alex Bouaziz, founder of Deel; Alloy co-founder Laura Soeikerman; Peeyush Ranjan, the head of Google Payments and; early employees at Revolut and TransferWise.
In 2019, NALA raised a seven-figure in a pre-seed funding round led by Accel. The startup created and scaled a mobile money service in East Africa to over 250,000 users. By 2021, the company started trying international money transfers after users displayed interest in moving money between the U.K. and East African countries like Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Then, ushering NALA into the remittance business.
With an average of 10.6% in transaction fees, Africa remains the most expensive region to send money to, making remittance business opportunities lucrative in the region. Platforms such as NALA then offer customers the best rates for lower prices.
NALA has grown considerably since 2021, the platform allows payments from the U.K. to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ghana. The company affirmed that within the past six months, more than 8,000 users have moved over eight figures worth in transactions to Africa.
CEO and founder Benjamin Fernandes comments that the customer base is the diaspora who reside in the U.K. Fernandes also comments that the fintech is now licensed to live in the U.S and in the E.U, which would be live in about two months’ time in at least one E.U country. NALA also plans to be live in 12 African countries by the end of 2022, including in Nigeria.
The platform is also privately beta-testing multi-currency accounts that would enable the African diaspora to store local currencies abroad. It is as well testing NALA for Businesses to enable payments to Africa for people who run businesses abroad.
The CEO also disclosed that NALA would be building out infrastructure to aid transfers abroad from Africa.
“We’re scaling that up, not just being in Tanzania and Kenya and Uganda as a consumer-facing product. But in the long run, we want to build infrastructure across the continent where we can do outbound from the continent and allow people to send money back. We’ve submitted our remittance license application in Kenya, as well as Uganda, for us to be able to do this the other way around.”
The company has hired Subuola Abraham, former Citi U.K MLRO and former group chief compliance officer at pan-African Guaranty Trust Bank, to pivot its compliance efforts. It has also partnered with Citi Bank Global to manage its foreign exchange market, and accelerate growth across multiple regions.
Fernandes further stated that parts of its user acquisition and retention effort would be to launch a crowdfunding campaign this year to allow first users access to some of the company’s shares.