Bankly, a Nigerian-based fintech start-up, has raised US$2 million in its seed fundraising round.
The seed funding round was led by Vault – a fintech company which was sold to Interswitch in 2016.
Other investors who took part in the round are Plug and Play Ventures, Rising Tide Africa, and Chrysalis Capital.
The start-up, which was founded by Tomilola Adejana and Fredrick Adams in 2018, said it plans to use the raised funds to accelerate its consumer acquisition and offer direct-to-consumer (DTC) products to Nigeria’s unbanked and underbanked populations.
Commenting on the completed seed round, CEO and co-founder, Tomilola Adejana, said that:
“We’re thrilled to have closed this milestone fundraise and to have such seasoned fintech investors who understand the market join us on this journey to bank Nigeria’s unbanked. Our goal has always been to reach the last mile using a fast-moving consumer strategy. Now we have built the agent network and are poised to serve customers directly via offline and online channels. Partnerships, collaboration, and a deep understanding of the needs of the unbanked will be vital to our success.“
With Nigeria having about 36 million unbanked adults, and largely running a cash economy, Bankly is leveraging on this by digitising the informal “thrift collections” system – known as ajo, esusu and adashe.
Thrift collection is a localized savings plan, and is widely used among Nigerians working in the informal sector.
Digitalizing the process of collating money, and allowing the unbanked people to save using online and offline methods, is one of Bankly’s core focus.
With Bankly, customers can deposit and withdraw cash with an agent of Bankly. Customers could also make payments using its app or USSD function.
With the fund raised, Bankly plans to increase its customer base from the current 35,000 to about 2 million unbanked Nigerians, supporting the aims of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy.
The start-up also plans to expand the number of its agent from its current 15,000 network of agents.
Idris Alubankudi Saliu, a Partner at Vault, commented on the company’s investment with Bankly, he said:
“Given our over 20 years experience in Nigeria’s fintech industry and previous exits, we strongly believe that Bankly understands the nuanced needs of this market – not to mention the team, strategy, and technology — to succeed in bringing affordable financial services to the unbanked. We are delighted to participate in this financing round as Bankly moves into its next growth stage.”
Adejana added that finding the right partners and investors is one of the challenges the start-up faced during its 3 years of operation. Adejana stated that due to the nature of the company, some of the investments offered to the company were not accepted.
“We’ve had to be patient to make sure that we were talking to people who deeply understand the problem and are passionate about solving it and are not about getting returns as soon as possible,” Adejana said.