In a positive move that would serve as a plank for bigger and better things for Africa-focused startups, San Francisco-based mobile lending app Branch International has raised nearly $170 million in Series C round of funding which is the highest raised by an Africa-focused startup, according to a report by TechCrunch.
The startup has also announced a partnership with Visa that would offer virtual, pre-paid debit cards to Branch client networks in Africa, South-Asia and Latin America. Branch, which has offices spread across San Francisco, Mexico City, Nairobi, Mumbai, and Lagos makes loans starting at $2 to individuals in emerging markets.
Speaking about the future plans, Branch co-founder and chief executive Matt Flannery said, “We’ll use [the money] to deepen existing business in Africa. Later this year we’ll announce high-yield savings accounts…in Africa.”
According to Flannery, Branch will use the fund to fuel its expansion plans in Brazil and Indonesia. As per the report, the Branch-Visa partnership will allow users to obtain virtual Visa accounts on Branch’s app. This will give the company a larger reach in countries like Nigeria which is the most populous country in the African continent.
The company started its operations in Kenya in 2015, where Safaricom’s M-Pesa is a big hit with nearly 25 million customers. Slowly and steadily Branch has also carved a place for itself with over 3 million users in a short span of time. It has also processed 13 million loans and disbursed more than $350 million, according to company figures. It is now one of the most downloaded app in Africa, as per Google.
Apart from Visa and Foundation Capital, the latest round of funding included Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8, Trinity Ventures, CreditEase and Victory Park among others. African fintech startups are now grabbing the attention of investors and in 2018, out of the estimated $1.1 billion funding to African startups, 50 percent went to fintech startups, which bodes well for the future of fintech industry in the African continent.