Y Combinator-Backed Nigerian Fintech Firm Partners With Alibaba, Gives African Merchants Access To China

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Chinese payment platform
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is the founder of Nigerian fintech firm Flutterwave and a co-founder of tech startup Andela. He’s one of the most prominent names in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. Ryan Rayburn/IMF Photo

Nigerian fintech firm Flutterwave has partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to offer digital payments between African and Chinese customers.

The partnership has opened up a new market to more than 60,000 African merchants on the Flutterwave platform via Alibaba’s payment platform, Alipay. Chinese consumers can also access African e-commerce products, according to Techcrunch.

The partnership between Flutterwave and Alipay is significant from an African perspective because it means African merchants can accept payments from Chinese users, Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola told TechCrunch.

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Founded in Lagos, Nigerian fintech firm Flutterwave provides transaction infrastructure for mobile payments. 

The company runs its operations center in Nigeria but moved its headquarters to Silicon Valley in 2018 to be closer to potential partnerships with investors and business leaders in the Bay Area, Techcrunch reports.

Flutterwave was founded in 2014 by Nigerian entrepreneur Iyin Aboyeji, a co-founder of Andela. Andela is a Nigerian startup based in New York that trains and outsources African engineers and coders to work for global firms.

In 2018, Aboyeji left Flutterwave to spend more time with his family.

Aboyeji is one of the most prominent names in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. His departure from Flutterwave was a surprise and follows a similar pattern when he left Andela. He left two months after Andela’s landmark $24 million Series B funding round led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Aboyeji co-founded Andela in 2014, Quartz reported.

Flutterwave claims to have processed $2.5 billion in payments for clients including Uber, Facebook, and Transferwise according to ITWebAfrica.

Flutterwave participated in the Y Combinator program in 2017, benefiting from one of the world’s most powerful startup accelerator programs. After that, the fintech firm raised more than $10 million in Series-A funding in 2017, Ventureburn reports.

Another $10 million investment in 2018 brought its total funding to $20.4 million, according to Crunchbase.

Flutterwave partnering with Chinese payments platform

Alipay is Alibaba’s digital wallet and payments platform which in 2013 surpassed PayPal in payments volume. Alipay claims to have a global network of more than 1 billion active users, according to its latest earnings report.

The Flutterwave-Alipay partnership grew out of Agboola’s participation in the eFounders Fellowship sponsored by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, according to Ventures Africa.

The Africa eFounders Fellowship is a collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development that has trained more than 100 African entrepreneurs.

Flutterwave is expected to make money through this partnership by charging a 3.8 percent fee on international transactions.