WEST AFRICACinetPay, a payment gateway that enables e-merchants and merchants in Francophone Africa to take mobile money and other forms of payment, has raised US$2.4 million in seed funding.

The round’s investors include pan-African venture capital firm 4DX Ventures and unicorn Flutterwave, and it marks two milestones for the duo. CinetPay is the company’s first foray into the Francophone world.

According to CinetPay, the seed investment will allow it to expand its sales and marketing operations across West and Central African regions.

“When we launched our website to sell domain names online, we faced difficulty in collecting online payment after creating many PayPal accounts which were blocked by PayPal because we were in Africa,” the CEO Idriss Monthe.

“But the cost that we make is that in Francophone Africa 80% of the population have a mobile money account. And between 10 and 20% of people have a bank account and credit cards.

“We decided to explore the tract of mobile money and create a payment gateway, where we aggregate all mobile money available in Francophone Africa to enable merchants to accept online payments.”

The startup has generated considerable traction since it was founded in 2016. Over 12,000 merchants have registered on the network since its start.

Monthe, however, admits that just 400 of them are currently active, attributing the poor retention rate to the fact that most active merchants had previously opened numerous accounts before settling on one.

The startup has also completed over 30 million transactions for these 400 active merchants so far, averaging roughly US$12.5 million each month.

The investment in CinetPay, according to Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola, is an example of the two companies’ shared ambition to ‘simplify payments on the continent.’

Flutterwave’s participation in the round is a continuation of the unicorn’s partnership with CinetPay, which began in 2019, according to a joint statement from the two firms.

It’s also a departure from Flutterwave’s recent mobile money efforts, which included a partnership with MTN to allow businesses in specified countries to receive MTN mobile money (MoMo) through the gateway.

“We’ve been tracking the Francophone Africa market for some time now and have been impressed by CinetPay’s ambitious goal to digitize payments across the region,” said Walter Baddoo, co-founder and general partner at 4DX Ventures.

“We look forward to partnering with the CinetPay team alongside our long-time portfolio company, Flutterwave, to help usher in the next phase of digital payments across the Francophone region.”

Idriss Monthe and Daniel Dindji founded CinetPay in 2016 after CEO Monthe had trouble collecting payments at his previous firm, CinetCore, which specialized in the acquisition of online domain names.

The Ivorian startup serves as an online and point-of-sale payment solution for merchants in nine French-speaking African countries: Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Congo, Guinea, and Benin. It accepts payments from more than 130 different payment operators — mobile money, bank cards, and wallets.

Merchants must first create an account on the platform, then upload their KYC, integrate Cinet’s APIs, and begin accepting payments. Cinet receives a 1–1.5 percent commission on each transaction and each merchant pays a US$20 annual subscription fee.

Despite the fact that the company is smaller than its competitors in terms of scale, Monthe believes that its geographical presence, technology, and purpose to “simplify payment and make it available across all channels” set it apart. The goal is to become the most popular payment gateway within the next four years.

“Our vision is to be the first payment aggregator in Francophone Africa by 2025. First in terms of our geographical presence in 15 countries in Francophone Africa. First in terms of innovation, first in terms of market share,” he said.

E-commerce platforms and digital public services, as well as insurance companies and schools, are among the merchants on the platform.


Fintech Baloon secures US$2.4 million

Baloon, a Francophone African insurance platform, has received US$2.4 million in a new funding round led by existing investors.

The investors included Nelly Brossard (ex-Maif, now at CapGemini), Pierre-Olivier Desaulle, the former CEO of Hiscox, and Galle Olivier, the former CEO of Axa Global P&C. P1 Ventures, Acuity Ventures and Myrtus Venture also participated in the round.

The latest round follows the company’s 1.8 million euros funding round, which it concluded in July 2020.

Baloon was founded at the end of 2017 by Bertrand Vialle, the former CEO of AssurOne who also worked for French insurance companies Gras Savoye and April.

 Its digital platform aims to establish itself in French-speaking Africa. This is groundbreaking in a continent where 90% of the population is uninsured.

Baloon is ushering in a new era of insurance by fostering trust between policyholders and insurers via the use of digital technologies. Because it is easy and removes educational, social, and economical obstacles, the company argues that it is accessible to anyone.

The company began with auto insurance brokerage in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, progressively expanding its activities (health and travel) and conquered territories (Cameroon, Gabon, Niger — and, most recently, Togo, in collaboration with Pan-African Olea).

Baloon now has 20,000 customers and works with a number of insurance companies, including Allianz and Axa. The company uses B2C/B2B2C distribution models. TotalEnergies is one of Baloon’s customers, and relies on the startup’s auto insurance services to cover its Cameroonian activities.

Baloon is present in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, Niger and Gabon, and has more than 80 employees across all its locations.

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