Ivorian fintech Julaya raises $ 2 million to digitize business payments in Francophone Africa – TechCrunch

exist more than 1 billion mobile money accounts worldwide. Africa leads the way in value and volume of transactions thanks to M-Pesa, largely used in East Africa. Other regions of the continent are also growing rapidly.

In 2019, West Africa reported the highest number of live mobile money services in any region, with 56 million active accounts.. In Côte d’Ivoire, one of the largest mobile money markets in Francophone Africa, 75% of the population have a mobile money account, compared to 20% with bank accounts. The difference is staggering and clearly shows the region’s great appetite for service.

While telecommunications operators largely As mobile money services dominate in most of sub-Saharan Africa, some startups are trying to change the mobile money experience for customers. Fintech startup based in Ivory Coast Julaya is one such company, and today announced $ 2 million pre-Series A funding to expand its products in West Africa.

Julaya was founded in 2018 by Mathias Leopoldie Y Charles talbot. Before launching Julaya, they worked at French payments fintech LemonWay on its service in Mali and Burkina Faso..

Léopoldie told TechCrunch that the experience showed them how mobile money worked in Francophone Africa. LemonWay acts as a payment solution for the markets. So, while working to expand the fintech service in both countries, the pair noted that massive potential companies had to reach the unbanked through the heavy consumer penetration of telecom operators.

Julaya was released to digitize commercial payments, but it started in Côte d’Ivoire instead of Mali and Burkina Faso. The platform enables companies to simplify their accounting and improve their operational efficiency by digitizing payments to workers and suppliers instead of relying on cash.

The company helps African companies and institutions disburse payments in mobile money and mobile banking wallets. It achieves this by working with telecommunications operators and other fintech startups in the region..

“Mobile money is reaching a mature stage in which the use cases of companies and public institutions provide new growth opportunities for the sector. The pandemic has opened minds to the need to digitize payments. Competition from fintech in West Africa is making digital finance more affordable for consumers, and technical integrations with telecom operators are becoming more reliable, ”Talbot said in a statement.

However, these partnerships have not come without their own share of challenges. On the one hand, payments technology in Francophone Africa is still quite fragmented, and telecom APIs continue to grow and are unreliable.

Léopoldie added that The challenges come from distribution channels, making it difficult for the company to mass sell at low cost, as well as from companies’ lack of reliability towards digitized payments.

“In Ivory Coast, a bank transfer takes between one and three days, and you always have to check with your bank branch as a customer. … Companies do not trust digital experiences, as they often have shortcomings, and educating the market carries a high cost of acquisition. So talents who have a startup mentality are still hard to find, ”Léopoldie said of some of the challenges facing the three-year-old startup..

Despite this, the startup, which has a technical and R&D team in France, has bagged clients from SMEs and large corporations to government institutions. The company says it is currently processing more than $ 1.5 million monthly for 50 of these clients, including Jumia, SODECI, Ministry of Education, Ivory Coast and World Bank.

Julaya closed an initial investment of $ 250,000 in 2018 and an initial investment of $ 550,000 a year later, all from angel investors.. But the company has introduced venture capital firms in its pre-Series A round. They include corporate venture capital firms Orange Ventures and MFS Africa Frontiers; Venture capital firms Saviu Ventures, Launch Africa and 50 Partners Capital; and some angel investors in Africa and Europe. Julaya will use the investment to expand its market share in Côte d’Ivoire and launch digital payment products and expand throughout West Africa.

More than 20 million people use Orange as a mobile money service in 15 African countries. The telecom operator also recently launched a mobile banking platform in Côte d’Ivoire and has exceeded 500,000 users.. Therefore, what is the basis for this strategic investment, which marks your third check into an African fintech startup after South Africa’s Yoco and Senegal’s SudPay?

“The Fintech environment in Africa is distinguished by its competitiveness and strong dynamism. Orange Group, through its technology investment fund, aims to take part in this boom supporting fintechs like Julaya. The goal is to target local technology champions serving the transition to a more digital and responsible world, ”said Habib Bamba, Director of Transformation, Digital Media and Media for Orange Ivory Coast.

Orange, other telecoms operators, fintechs and banks remain large competitors to Julaya. Then hHow do you plan to stay in the minds of people throughout the region? Léopoldie believes that focusing on the best user experience may be the solution.

“This sounds like a heard statement, but we understand that what the customer values ​​most is reliable customer support and a predictable and seamless online experience, for example, a reliable platform with very little downtime,” he said. “Even if you only have a 90% success rate on your transactions, as long as you provide this information in transparent communication to the customer, they will trust you.”


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