Tanzanian payment financial technology (fintech) firm Nala been on the upswing since it secured pre-seed funding from Accel in 2019, with which it built a mobile money service for East Africa. Then last year it raised $10 million more and has now set its target higher in the lucrative remittance market.
It is now eyeing a bigger piece of Kenya’s Sh420 billion inflows, months after securing approval from the Central Bank of Kenya and subsequently opening and staffing an office in Nairobi.
The remittance market has become highly competitive and Nala founder and CEO Benjamin Fernandes believes the Nairobi office, which will serve as its operational headquarters, hosting a third of its staff, will help to make the fintech a key player.
Currently, the company started three years ago, facilitates secure money transfers from the United Kingdom and the United States to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ghana. It plans to be in 12 other African countries by end of the year. It recently entered into a partnership with Equity Bank to allow users in the UK and US to send money directly to their accounts with the lender.
“This partnership will allow our customers to send money directly from their banks, through the Nala app, instantly and at the most competitive rates to Equity Bank Kenya accounts and other mobile wallets,” said Mr Fernades.
“Combining Nala’s technology with Equity Bank’s reach allows us to build stronger financial infrastructure for Kenyans worldwide."
Equity grew the volume of diaspora remittances it processed by 39 percent in 2021 compared to the corresponding period in 2020, leveraging on the growing popularity of digital channels for sending money home from abroad. It handled Sh383.5 billion in remittances in the 12 months to December, up from Sh279.4 billion in 2021.
How did Nala attract investors? “To raise a huge sum of money it is crucial to start small. We started the company with $25,000 from an investor. We worked hard to deliver on our promise,” Mr Fernandes explained.