Umba, a digital financial service has raised $2 million to help bring financial services to the underserved and rapidly emerging market that exists in Africa.
Investors in the recent funding include Lachy Groom, ex-Head of Issuing at Stripe, who is adding Umba to his growing portfolio which includes notable investments in Notion and Superhuman.
Umba offers its services through a mobile app where customers have access to a free checking account, free instant peer-to-peer money transfers, lending, deposits, BillPay, and cashback.
Umba is currently available in Kenya and Nigeria, representing the top two markets for venture investment in Africa, with a combined population of over a quarter of a billion people. The funding will enable Umba to expand and scale their product offering across these two markets in the coming months, adding debit cards, saving schemes and referrals.
Umba’s CEO, Tiernan Kennedy, underlined the advantage that Umba brings to the digital mobile banking market, having been built with expansion capabilities from the outset –
“From the outset we built our platform to serve multiple markets, currencies and payment infrastructures. This flexibility is an extremely important consideration as it’s much harder to upgrade your systems at a later date. For example bank and debit card penetration is high in Nigeria, so Umba is deeply integrated into those payment methods, while across Kenya and East Africa mobile money is dominant so our platform is tightly integrated with those services, too. Having a platform that can service those diverse sets of needs is a key reason why Umba can scale up this business fast.”
Ludlow Ventures Partner, Brett DeMarrais has highlighted the increase in venture activity in Africa and the opportunity it brings –
“Umba is the first investment we’ve made in the African market and it’s one we were excited to participate in. The team at Umba have an excellent service that drives down the cost of banking for their customers and democratises access. The move away from physical branch infrastructure was already underway and it has accelerated this year. As an investor it’s also very encouraging to see the investment activity that has also increased – from the Jumia IPO to the Visa investment in Interswitch to the acquisitions this year of PayStack, DPO & Sendwave. It’s clear the African market is maturing and that we’re entering a very interesting phase.”
Mobile money accounts in Kenyan and Nigerian markets have increased significantly thanks to legacy banking barriers and a fast-growing e-commerce market that is being driven by rapid smartphone and internet penetration. Umba was established to meet the needs of this rapidly-growing African mobile payments market where the presence of secure mobile banking apps options is limited.