Months after the initial close of its seed round, Talk360, a South African Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) startup, has raised an additional $3 million, bringing the total investment raised in the round to $7 million.
Talk360’s latest investors include Allan Gray E2 Ventures (AGEV), Kalon Venture Partners, E4E Africa, Endeavor, existing lead investor HAVAÍC and a number of angel investors, including Tjaart van der Walt and Coenraad Jonker.
The company plans to use the new funding to launch a pan-African payment platform next year and grow its VoIP market share. Talk360’s payment platform will integrate “all payment options” in the continent — creating a diverse pool of localized payment options, making it easy for international and local businesses to sell to buyers residing in Africa.
“The new platform will allow users across the continent to buy products and services using any currency and more than 160 payment methods. It will also be opened to other merchants,” Talk360 said in a statement.
Talk360 told TechCrunch, in a past interview, that its decision to be a payment aggregator was informed by the challenges it encountered in implementing digital payment options, which affected the bottom line of its internet calling business.
Dean Hiine, the startup’s co-founder and managing director for Africa, told TechCrunch that existing digital payment methods in Africa are scattered and some involve lengthy and complex processes, affecting its conversion rate.
Hiine, who co-founded the startup with Hans Osnabrugge and Jorne Schamp in 2016, hopes to tap the payment platform to enable more people across the continent to make international calls through its app. Talk360 users make calls at a fee, with its platform built in such a way that only the initiator needs the app and internet — a smartphone — to make calls.
“Our mission is to bridge distance and connect lives by offering reliable, affordable and easy-to-use digital services, delivered in a localised manner to all communities, particularly emerging countries, so they can connect to the world,” said Hiine.
The startup also has a network of agents, including PesaPoint in Kenya and Flash in South Africa, which enable users to purchase airtime vouchers from more than 750,000 physical points of sale.
“But we’re not just solving socio-economic issues: We’re also offering micro-entrepreneurship and income generating opportunities to our growing network of agents across the country.”
The company said its internet calling app has connected 2.3 million people worldwide so far this year, and attained 167% growth in customers and 130% in revenues. The app has active users in more than 170 countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
“We invested more into Talk360 based on its strong progress in the South African market to date, as well as its potential in the rest of Africa. Since our first investment, the company has shown spectacular growth, and a genuine ability to crack the challenge of distribution in Africa. We’ve seen the company convert users to paying customers by offering them relevant services, and making this accessible in an easy, affordable, reliable and trustworthy way,” said HAVAÍC Managing Partner Ian Lessem.