The provision of virtual foreign bank accounts has become a common strategy for fintechs to enable Nigerians and Africans to facilitate international transfers. Fintech Grey, which provides virtual global bank accounts for African freelancers and remote workers, is announcing that it has raised $2 million in seed funding.
Idorentin Obong And Femi Aghedo Gray was founded in July 2020 as an instant exchange service to help Nigerians exchange foreign currencies into the local currency – the naira – in their home accounts. Last year, the startup raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed investment and was accepted into YC’s winter batch this March.
YC-backed Nigerian fintech has expanded from Kenya to East Africa. CEO Obong told TechCrunch that his partnership with two companies in Kenya: payments giant Cellulant and edtech upstart Moringa has made the move.
“We went with Cellulant to enhance our payment infrastructure for the Kenyan shilling,” the CEO said. “Moringa is a way and a channel to train new technology skills, so it makes sense to have this kind of partnership as we’re trying to build this for freelancers.”
Therefore, users in Nigeria and Kenya can accept foreign payments from more than 88 countries through USD, GBP and EUR bank accounts created on the platform and convert them into their local currencies (Naira and Shillings) and withdraw directly to their mobile money or local bank. Account and you can send money to the UK and Europe on the platform. Gray has expanded its operations to support payments in another East African currency: the Ugandan shilling, bringing the total number of supported currencies to six. Although it is yet to be launched in the country, Obong said Uganda has a regional vision in Gray as well as in the East African country of Tanzania. Fintech will expand to the end within a month, he said.
Gray says it has nearly 100,000 private users, and its transaction volume has increased by 200% since the beginning of the year. COO Aghedo said the company has privately launched a business-focused product called Gray Business to meet this consumer growth and extend its offering beyond remittance and person-to-person payments.
The lack of interoperability between African currencies is one reason why businesses on the continent use dollars to pay each other instead of local currencies. Forums like I turn aroundA global B2B payment platform that enables African businesses to make international payments through multi-currency wallets is solving this problem. With its Gray Business product, the one-year-old fintech intends to enter the market and offer a cheaper option for sending and receiving across the continent, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
Gray Business has been in private beta for the past two months and seed investment will help launch it publicly across Nigeria and Kenya. Investors in the round include venture firms such as Y Combinator, Soma Capital, Heirloom Fund, and True Culture Fund, and angels such as Alan Rutledge, Samvit Ramadurgam, and Karthik Ramakrishnan. Startups offering similar services include the likes of Techstars-backed Payday.
“Gray was founded to enable people to live an environment-free lifestyle,” said CEO Obong. We like to say we’re on a mission to make global payments easy. We want to work effectively to improve how Africa as a continent interacts with money across its borders.
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