Visa Pays $200M For 20-Percent Stake In Interswitch, Mitchell Elegbe’s African Fintech Unicorn, 2020 IPO Planned

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Visa is paying $200 million for a 20 percent stake in Nigerian fintech firm Interswitch ahead of a planned London IPO in 2020. Interswitch founder and CEO Mitchell Elegbe. Image Edited by Autumn Keiko

Visa forked out $200 million for a 20 percent stake in Nigerian digital payment firm Interswitch, making it probably the first real “African unicorn”, according to techies on the continent.

“The investment makes Interswitch one of the most valuable African fintech businesses with a valuation of $1 billion,” Interswitch said in a release to TechCrunch.

Negotiations are at an advanced stage. The transaction could be announced soon followed by a planned initial public offering on the London Stocks Exchange in the first half of 2020, Sky News reported.

Interswitch is one of the largest Africa-focused electronic payments and infrastructure companies. The firm was founded by Mitchell Elegbe, a former marketing lead at Telnet Nigeria, in 2001. His goal was to offer cash transfer solutions in the West African country.

In April, Elegbe told Harvard Business Review that Nigerian consumers and businesses make more than 300 million digital transactions a month across a suite of Interswitch-enabled channels.

The tech startup runs point-of-sale terminals, online consumer payment platforms and its own card, Verve.

Interswitch to list in London next year

The company had already set a $1.5 billion valuation ahead of a planned IPO next year. Visa purchasing a stake in the company confirmed its unicorn status.

Jumia, another Africa-focused tech company, achieved a billion-dollar valuation earlier this year after it listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Many people question whether or not the Berlin-based Jumia qualifies as an African company.