Kenya’s Wapi Pay banks a $2.2m pre-seed round to ease remittances between Africa and Asia

Wapi Pay, Singapore-based and headquartered in Kenya raised $2.2m in pre-seed funding to scale up global payments and remittances between Africa and Asia.

Investors included EchoVC and MSA Capital, which have previously invested in Asian unicorns such as Meituan and NIO as well as international unicorns such as Nubank and Klarna. Additional investors included Kepple Africa Ventures. Existing investors are Future Hub, Gobi Ventures and Transsion Holding.

The investment reflects strong support for Wapi Pay’s value-for-users approach. The funding will help Wapi Pay engage regulators for licensing across Africa, drive higher and sustained growth and build value for Wapi Pay’s existing and potential customers by broadening its suite of products.

Wapi Pay co-founder Eddie Ndichu said, “These funds will help Wapi Pay diversify our products range and drive growth so that we can evolve remittances into real-time global cross-border payments, starting with Africa and Asia. All while minimising the cost of transactions, it needs to be as easy as sending M-PESA.”

Wapi Pay essentially focuses on the Africa-Asia remittance corridor. China-Africa trade jumped 27% to $52.1bn in the first quarter of this year 2021 compared with 2020, buoyed by the recovery of economies after the coronavirus pandemic.

Given that traders have to endure high remittances fees of up to 15% of the amount, waiting period of up to five days, and are exposed to the high risk of consistent reversals due to unmatched instructions, Wapi Pay helps reduce the cost to below 3% and same day payout.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region to send money to and out, according to the World Bank, with the average cost of sending $200 being 8.02% of the principal amount compared with 4.64% for South Asia, the lowest cost globally. Seamless payment platforms such as Wapi Pay can greatly ease trade and investments, according to Ndichu.

With operations in China, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, India, Taiwan and Vietnam , the firm works with local banks and platforms and aims to process $500m in remittances by the end of 2022. In addition, it plans to grow the number of registered suppliers and beneficiaries in Asia to 100,000; and sign up at least 500,000 merchants, traders and businesses in Africa.

Ndichu said, “Wapi Pay bypasses traditional payment networks, optimizing efficiency and cost for our customers. Users choose the delivery channels they want such as Bank to Bank, Wallet to Wallet, Bank to Wallet and Wallet to Bank options to transfer funds as well as make merchant payments, with settlement done within 24 hours.”

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