Fintech startup NALA raises US$10m funding for its UK expansion plans

TANZANIA – NALA, a Tanzanian cross-border payments firm that recently switched from local to international money transfers, has announced that it had raised US$10 million in a fresh round of funding.

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.

Amplo (USA), Accel, and Bessemer Partners (USA) are among the major investors in this new financing round, which also includes local investors such as DFS Lab.

Jonas Templestein, co-founder and CTO of Monzo; Vladimir Tenev, Robinhood co-founder and CEO (USA); Deel founder Alex Bouaziz (USA); 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 who contributed to NALA.

“We don’t want to be compared to a regular remittance company, and people will do that naturally. But we think remittance is just the starting point for what we’re going to build,” founder and CEO Benjamin Fernandes said in a statement.

“My take is that payments across the continent is 1% built, and there’s a lot of infrastructure and software that needs to be built deeply. That’s where we want to sit, and this US$10 million round is going to do a lot of that.”

As a result of the funding, Sheel Tyle, the founder and general partner at Amplo, will join NALA’s board, the company said in a statement.

The seed round follows a seven-figure pre-seed round led by Accel in 2019, roughly three years after NALA received a seven-figure pre-seed round led by Accel.

Launched in 2019, the low-hanging fruit of NALA is remittances. NALA, meantime, is privately beta testing multi-currency accounts that will allow the African diaspora to keep local African currencies while overseas, in addition to enabling cross-border transfers from the UK (and the US and the EU) to Africa.

It is also now testing NALA for Businesses, which allows people in the diaspora to make payments to Africa through their businesses.

The startup has generated considerable traction since it was founded. Apart from the 250,000 customers NALA has built in East Africa before going international, the company claims that over 8,000 customers have used the NALA platform to shift over eight figures in transaction volume to Africa in the last six months.

Currently, the platform allows payments from the U.K. to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ghana. The startup was also part of Winter 2019 Batch of Y Combinator accelerator programme.

According to Fernandes, the Tanzanian fintech would develop infrastructure to enable money transfers from Africa to the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Our core customer base is the diaspora right now who live in the U.K. This is the customer we’re currently serving today as we speak,” founder and CEO Benjamin Fernandes said.

“We also got our license approvals to go live in the U.S. and the E.U., which will be going live in a month and a half in at least one other E.U. country, probably France.”

The company also claimed that NALA is currently present in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa, with plans to be live in 12 African countries by the end of the year, including Nigeria.

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