Flutterwave: Why we set up shop in Uganda

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Flutterwave, a payments API (Application programming interface) that makes it easier for global merchants, payment service providers and Pan African banks to accept and process payments on any channel: web, mobile money, ATM and POS – is slowly establishing itself in Uganda.

Uganda is Flutterwave’s fifth destination in Africa after Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria, where it has launched first.

Flutterwave has been rolling out its flagship product Rave in the country for almost three months now.

Rave is a payments collection platform. It works in a manner similar to PayPal if you’ve been accepting payments via your bank account or PayLeo for those using mobile money and bank accounts in East Africa.

It supports cards, mobile money, bank accounts, USSD, among others

Established in 2016 by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, also the only African of Andela’s four co-founders, the company is headquartered in San Francisco and its biggest African office is in Lagos, Nigeria.

In our conversation with Omosalewa Adeyemi, who oversees Flutterwave’s partnerships and expansion, she told us that they want to provide technology and build infrastructure that will facilitate the connection of “Africa to the global economy and vice versa.”

Adeyemi was in Uganda for the official launch of the company.

She was also meeting partners and local service providers, including telecom companies (MTN and Airtel) whose mobile money platforms they want to integrate to enable merchants and other business dealers to accept payments by way of mobile money, which is the most popular medium of currency exchange in SMEs in the country.

In Uganda among other businesses, they are already working with startups like Xente, Swipe2Pay, and RoundBob, whose founder and CEO David Gonahasa is the reason they are in Uganda in the first place.

Gonahasa met Greg Gory, a co-founder, and chief operating officer of Flutterwave at Alibaba eFounders Initiative that took place in Hangzhou.

Rave is currently allowing the exchange of funds in more than 300 currencies.

According to Adeyemi, they have over 45000 merchants on the platform, who are charged a small amount that is shared with banks.

The “revenue model is a per transaction fee”, she adds, “where we have a partnership with a bank who refers to onboard clients [and] we share revenues with them.”

Must read: How ChapChap Merchant is digitizing SMEs, refashioning customer journey

To date, the company is processing more than $2.2 billion in payments across millions of transactions.

They are partnering with fifty banks across 30 African countries.

Flutterwave brings Rave in Uganda

Uganda’s startup ecosystem has made some impressive strides in the recent past.

More importantly, in connection to Flutterwave and it’s product Rave, Ugandan startups have been making major expansions, some as big as global.

But as these startups expand, one of the challenges they face is integrating their system with the country they are expanding to, to accept payments locally since payment cultures tend to vary across regions.

And this is the problem Fluttewave is trying to eliminate: taking care of integrating banks and payment-service providers into its platform so businesses don’t have to take on the expense and burden.

“I have talked to several companies who operate in multiple countries in Africa and have at least two or three payment integrations in each country; that is hectic, it is difficult to manage, it is operationally challenging,” Adeyemi said during our conversation.

“Our mission is to make it easier to trade across Africa … wherever you’re — it doesn’t matter.”

Flutterwave, according to Adeyemi, is looking to expand to the whole of the East African region, with the next destination being Tanzania.

Rwanda and Ethiopia are also a big priority, she said.

Rave is already being used by multinationals like Uber, TranferWise, FlyWire, among others.

Alongside Forloop Africa, they are also preparing a hackathon where Ugandan developers will compete for prizes by working on projects using Flutterwave’s API.

Adeyemi says that developers are the ones that create systems that use Flutterwave so they want them to get familiar with it, become its ambassadors and also help the company in coming up with new ideas to improve the user experience.


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