Just over two months after Flutterwave became a unicorn, another African fintech startup has joined the ranks, making them five African startups to attain the unicorn status.
Chippercash, a three-year-old startup that facilitates cross-border payment across Africa, closed a $100 million Series C round to expand its products and services, which reportedly put its valuation at $1.2 billion.
The Series C round was led by SVB Capital, the investment arm of U.S. high-tech commercial bank Silicon Valley Bank. Existing investors; Deciens Capital, Ribbit Capital, Bezos Expeditions, One Way Ventures, 500 Startups, Tribe Capital, and Brue2 Ventures, participated in the round.
“Obviously, we’re not getting into our valuation, but we’re probably the most valuable private startup in Africa today after this round. So that’s a reflection of the environment that regulators like CBN have created to allowed innovation and growth, ” cofounder and CEO Ham Serunjogi said when asked about the company’s valuation.
Chippercash has recorded a swift growth to unicorn for a company founded in 2018. With its other major series happening in 2019 and 2020. In November 2020, the African cross-border fintech startup raised $30 million Series B led by Ribbit Capital and Jeff Bezos fund Bezos Expeditions. This was after closing a $13.8 million Series A round from Deciens Capital and other investors in June 2020. Hence, Chipper Cash has gone through three rounds totaling $143.8 million in a year. However, when the $8.4 million raised in two seed rounds back in 2019 is included, this number increases to $152.2 million.
Chippercash expanded the scope of its financial services by adopting the blockchain technology, using cryptocurrency to facilitate swifter cross-border payments.
Serunjogi told TechCrunch that besides Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya; the company has expanded to Europe. “We’ve expanded to the U.K., it’s the first market we’ve expanded to outside Africa,” he said.
Chippercash is offering a variety of services according to the peculiarities of countries where it operates, an idea it aimed to fulfill with its Series B fund. “We’ve launched cards products in Nigeria and we’ve also launched our crypto product. We’re also launching our US stocks product in Uganda, Nigeria and a few other countries soon,” Serunjogi said.
Though its crypto services are not available in Nigeria due to the central bank’s ban, which prohibits regulated financial service providers from offering cryptocurrency services, it has stoked the volume of transactions carried out in Chippercash. The number of users on Chipper Cash has increased to 4 million, up 33% from last year. And the company averaged 80,000 transactions daily in November 2020 and processed $100 million in payments value in June 2020. Currently having more than 200 employees, Chippercash plans to increase its workforce by hiring 100 staff throughout the year.
This latest round that places Chippercash on the unicorn table illustrates the resilience of the African fintech market in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that has sent many sectors of the global economy sprawling.
Interswitch, Fawry, Flutterwave and now Chippercash have come along the $1 billion valuation terrain, though through varying pace.
OPay, the Chinese-backed payment company, is expected to get on board soon. The company is on the verge of raising $400 million that will put its valuation at $1.5 billion.