Bankly Raises $2m to Reach Unbanked Nigerians
By Adedapo Adesanya
In another round of equity funding spreading across the country, a Nigerian fintech startup, Bankly, has raised $2 million in a seed funding round led by investors, including African payments unicorn, Flutterwave.
Other investors include Vault, Plug and Play Ventures, Rising Tide Africa and Chrysalis Capital.
The new funding will allow Bankly to drive its expansion plan in Nigeria by onboarding more agents to its current count of 15,000 on its platform.
The agents are paid commissions on each transaction completed by a customer through them.
The startup wants to leverage its latest funding to increase its 35,000 customers in cash-dependent communities and also launch a variety of direct-to-consumer products in the coming months.
For the company, this new set of customers opens up access to credit and creates more value which will help the country’s financial inclusion plans as it covers a considerable number of unbanked Nigerians.
With about 50 million Nigerians having no bank account, Bankly digitises cash transactions for the unbanked population, allowing people to save their money using online and offline methods.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) National Financial Inclusion Strategy aims to increase the number of banked Nigerians from 60 per cent to 80 per cent.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tomilola Adejana, in an interview with TechCrunch, stated that, “The first phase is building agent networks which is good, but that’s not the goal. Just in the same way mobile inclusion happened, you need to then focus on acquiring customers who, after transferring cash to their mobile accounts, use it to buy airtime or make payments.
“We call that the three-phase process. The distribution first, then focusing on the consumer, after that full digitization. This is how we reach financial inclusion.”
She noted that finding the right investors was challenging and based on that the company had to turn down some of the investments offered to the company and only let in investors who aligned with the company’s plans for the unbanked.
“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,” she said.
Founded by Ms Adejana and Mr Fredrick Adams in 2018, Bankly provides a digital savings and peer to peer transfer platform where users can fund their wallets using tokens available on Bankly vouchers nationwide in a “recharge to save” model.
Functioning in a similar way to traditional banks but with fewer assets, revenue and customers, Bankly lets users collate and save cash with a collector who is responsible for disbursing funds when due.