Africa-focused fintech startup OPay raises $120m from Chinese investors to fund expansion drive

NIGERIA – Africa-focused fintech startup Opay has raised US$120 million in Series B investment to fund its plans to scale in Nigeria and expand its payments product to Kenya, Ghana and South Africa, TechCrunch has reported.

The series B capital raise was backed by Chinese investors who included Meituan-Dianping,  GaoRong, Source Code Capital, Softbank Asia, BAI, Redpoint, IDG Capital, Sequoia China and GSR Ventures.

“OPay will facilitate the people in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and other African countries with the best fintech ecosystem. We see ourselves as a key contributor to…helping local businesses…thrive from…digital business models,” Opera CEO and OPay Chairman Yahui Zhou, said in a statement.

Opay’s US$120 million Chinese backed capital raise comes after a successful first round capital in June 2019 where it was able to raise US$50 million.

It also follows Visa’s $200 million investment in Nigerian fintech company Interswitch and a $40 million raise by Lagos-based payments startup PalmPay — led by China’s Transsion.

The fundraiser by Opay also reveals a major trend where Nigeria is becoming the launching pad for many fintech startups which are seeking to expand operations in Africa and China becoming the source of most of the funds being use in this expansion drive.

Opay- a Norway based, Chinese owned company- was founded in 2018 on the popularity of its parent company – Opera which has ranked No. 2 in usage in Africa, after Chrome, the last four years.

Its parent company has built a hefty suite of internet-based commercial products in Nigeria around OPay’s financial utility.

These include motorcycle ride-hail app ORide, OFood delivery service and OLeads SME marketing and advertising vertical.

Opera CFO Frode Jacobsen shed additional light on how OPay will deploy the $120 million across Opera’s Africa network.

“OPay looks to capture volume around bill payments and airtime purchases, but not necessarily as priority,” he said.

 “That’s not something you do every day. We want to focus our services on things that have high-frequency usage.”

Those include transportation services, food services and other types of daily activities, he explained. Jacobsen also noted OPay will use the $120 million to enter more countries in Africa than those disclosed.

The US$120 million series B capital raise crowns 2019 as the year Chinese investors went all in on the continent’s startup scene.

OPay, PalmPay and East African trucking logistics company Lori Systems have raised a combined $240 million from 15 different Chinese actors in a span of months.

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