WEST AFRICA – Bizao, a fintech startup for payment solutions for businesses and merchants, has closed a Series A round of financing at €8 million (US$8.20m).

The funding was led by AfricInvest, a pan-African, with the participation of French VC firm Adelie and Seedstars Africa Ventures.

With this first fundraising wish to launch into new markets and invest in several new verticals, including entertainment (pay-as-you-go or subscription solutions for video games, video or music streaming), SMEs or other fintechs.

The French fintech that is building out a combination of financial services for the Francophone Africa region by focusing on three main service areas: merchant payment, carrier billing, and money transfer,  is active in 10 countries on the continent (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, DRC, Senegal, Tunisia, Togo, Gabon).

The startup, founded in 2019 by Frenchman Aurélien Duval-Delort, is developing a suite of financial services for the region by focusing on three key service areas: merchant payment, carrier billing, and money transfer.

Bizao’s payments infrastructure is built on relationships with pan-African banks (most notably Ecobank, UBA, and Orabank), telecommunications (MTN, Orange, Moov, and others), and international payment giants Visa and Mastercard, which facilitate international transactions.

Bizao, like most payment fintechs, makes money by charging fees on transactions completed via their platforms.

Duval-Delort claims the startup processes 270 million payment requests per month and has handled 60 million Euros (US$62.3 million) in the last year alone.

According to him, 80 percent of its employees are African. Natasha Dimban, the company’s CTO, leads the majority of their IT workforce in Dakar. A product team is situated in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Duval-Delort also claims that the firm is expanding beyond the francophone region to include English-speaking markets in Africa. However, the presence of current mobile money infrastructure that can be used to expand up financial services that can reach the majority of a population will be the key appeal for them.

While Bizao does not have direct-to-consumer apps, Duval-Delort believes the value they produce for customers by supporting mobile money transfers and international remittances in francophone Africa is significant.

“We have telecom DNA,” he continues, “which helps us a lot in the mobile money market.”

This “telco DNA” helps them stand out in the rising competition between fintechs and banks across Africa.

“We perceive some sort of conflict between telcos and banks, but we don’t take sides. Our worth stems from the fact that we are superior to the competitors. We incorporate whichever payment method merchants like,” said Duval-Delort.

He expects that by taking this method, he will be able to expand Bizao’s footprint in the francophone region to reach an addressable market of approximately 300 million people. They currently service one-third of that number.

Duval-Delort was the head of Orange’s Africa innovation department, a French multinational telecoms corporation, before founding Bizao.

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