African fintech Flutterwave triples valuation to over $3B after $250M Series D


Olugbenga "GB" Agboola (CEO, Flutterwave)
Image Credits: Flutterwave

African fintech Flutterwave has raised $250 million in a Series D round that tripled the company’s valuation to over $3 billion in just twelve months.

In March 2021, the San Francisco-headquartered and Lagos-based startup raised $170 million in a Series C round from Tiger Global and Avenir at a valuation of $1 billion. The latest financing, which confirms a Bloomberg scoop from October, brings Flutterwave’s total raise since its inception six years ago to $475 million (it raised a $35 million Series B in 2020 and a $20 million Series A in 2018).

At $3 billion, Flutterwave is currently the highest valued African startup, surpassing the $2 billion valuation set by SoftBank-backed fintech OPay and FTX-backed cross-border payments platform Chipper Cash last year.

Led by founder and CEO Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, Flutterwave facilitates cross-border payments transactions of small to large businesses in Africa via one API. The company also helps businesses outside Africa expand their operations on the continent. Some of its international clients include, Flywire and Uber.

Flutterwave has seen astronomical growth since TechCrunch covered its unicorn round last year. At the time, the payments company said it processed 140 million transactions worth over $9 billion. A year later, the African payments giant, with an infrastructure reach across 34 countries on the continent, now processes 200 million transactions worth more than $16 billion.

The number of businesses using its platform has also increased. In March 2021, it was 290,000; now, 900,000 businesses globally use Flutterwave to process payments in 150 currencies and across different payment modes: local and international cards, mobile wallets, bank transfers and its consumer product Barter.

African payments company Flutterwave raises $170M, now valued at over $1B

While Flutterwave’s market share in enterprise payments has primarily been responsible for this growth, diversifying into fintech products for small and medium businesses, retail and consumers also played a part.

“It was deliberate from us because we saw the opportunity in the SMB space, and how they require the same technology pie the Ubers and Netflixes of this world use,” Agboola told TechCrunch. “Some of this is evident is how we expanded the Flutterwave Store, which allows small businesses anywhere in Africa to create an e-commerce shop online at zero cost scale.”

The Flutterwave Store, launched in April 2020, was revamped last November to Flutterwave Market. The e-commerce solution has grown to over 30,000 merchants that consumers can shop from various products. In December, Flutterwave launched Send, a remittance service that allows users to send money to recipients to and from Africa.

Customers use Send — which Agboola called “Flutterwave’s fastest-growing product” — mainly to pay for family support, gifts and tuition, the company told TechCrunch. Send has processed 4,729 transactions, with total payments volume crossing $3.59 million in its first full month of launch. The majority of its customers come from Nigeria, the U.S. and the U.K.

“We’re becoming what we wanted to be: the infrastructure for any kind of payments,” Agboola said. “There’s no sector you look at today in Africa that you wouldn’t see Flutterwave taking a piece of that and enabling merchants and consumers to grow and scale.”

After scaling its payments product across sub-Saharan Africa, Flutterwave has expanded its services up north to Egypt and Morocco. Agboola asserted that expanding into these countries is the first step of Flutterwave’s move into emerging markets such as the Middle East and Latin America. “We want to change our focus from just Africa to emerging markets and eventually the U.S., the U.K., Europe. Our goal is to ensure that our infrastructure powers those corridors,” he said.

Although Flutterwave has its headquarters in the U.S., it didn’t run any operations there. Most of its U.S.-affiliated business involved striking partnerships with fintech giants such as PayPal, Visa, Discover and Worldpay FIS to facilitate global payments with Africa.

But that changed last August when it hired Jimmy Ku as head of growth to spearhead its expansion into the U.S. Now, Flutterwave operates an ACH network in the North American country with a few customers using the platform to make ACH payments, collections and payouts. In the same vein, Flutterwave launched Grow last September as a product that helps African businesses register and incorporate in the U.S. and the U.K.

The new capital gives Flutterwave ammunition to develop more complementary products. It will also help the company speed up customer acquisition in existing markets and grow through M&As, the company said in a statement.

The first public deal Flutterwave made was the acquisition of creator platform Disha for an undisclosed six-figure amount. The rationale behind the purchase was lost on some onlookers because Disha didn’t fit Flutterwave’s core payments business. Though Flutterwave enveloped Disha’s 20,000 creators or businesses (not all were active at the time of acquisition) and intends to play the long game of participating in the global creator economy, the immediate objective of the deal, it seemed, was to salvage a failing startup and back it with a robust payments checkout system.

Flutterwave acquires Disha, a creator platform that planned to shutter in February

In the future, Flutterwave will look at acquisitions that will further consolidate its authority in the fintech space. And as the payments giant continues to deepen its influence in the SMB and consumer fintech space, we can speculate that smaller startups — including those it has backed, like CinetPay — may become acquisition targets.

“We plan to grow inorganically through acquisitions, and it will happen when we find a fit and see a company with the same core values or culture and goal of making payments simpler across emerging markets. So we still have plans for that,” said the chief executive, who has also backed several startups personally and more recently through the newly launched $200 million pan-African fund Norrsken22.

While some global investors have recently expressed concerns about the valuations of startups in the face of falling public tech stocks, others are increasing their risk appetite and Flutterwave’s deal reflects that reality. Its latest backers in this Series D round include lead investor B Capital Group and participating investors Alta Park Capital, Whale Rock Capital, and Lux Capital. Existing investors such as Avenir Growth, Tiger Global, Glynn Capital, Green Visor and Salesforce Ventures also doubled down.

Stating why his firm invested, Matt Levinson, partner at B Capital, in a statement, said, “Flutterwave may ultimately build one of the most consequential fintech businesses in the world, enabling hundreds of thousands of merchants to transact online and connect Africa to the global economy.”

But as one of Africa’s tech unicorns (currently the most valued of the lot, which includes OPay, Chipper Cash, Andela, Wave and Interswitch) and the poster child for African fintech (a sector that received between 50-60% of venture capital last year), tech stakeholders are counting down to the days Flutterwave will go public. That’s not in the fintech giant’s immediate plans, though, as it looks to continue blitzscaling, according to its chief executive.

“At the moment, no IPO,” Agboola said. “The goal is to continue to grow and scale. But obviously, we plan to be IPO-ready from a maturity perspective, which means continue to build the infrastructure, cross our Ts and dot our Is if we choose to go that route.”

African tech took center stage in 2021

Reports say African startups raised record-smashing $4.3B to $5B in 2021

More TechCrunch

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes, it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220 million seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal challenges against the government, that means shaping up its public…

As a U.S. ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The UK’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home zip codes, and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential—at least not in our…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

4 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €285M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner