Launched in 2016 as a Nigerian and U.S.-based payments company with offices in Lagos and San Francisco, Flutterwave builds payments infrastructure that connects Africa to the global economy.
Flutterwave is also one of only four unicorns ($1 billion+ startups) in Africa. Two other unicorns are located in Nigeria—and one in Egypt.
We caught up with Flutterwave founder and CEO, Olugbenga “GB “Agboola to find out more about his company and its future plans.
What inspired you to start Flutterwave?
We started Flutterwave due to the fragmented nature of payments in Africa— there were multiple ways of making and receiving payments within countries but cross-border payments remained a hassle. This made it difficult for individuals like myself or businesses to make or receive international payments in Africa.
It was easier for me to send and receive money from the UK than to do the same from Lagos to Nairobi. We saw an opportunity to address this problem and worked with a group of passionate Engineers, Bankers, Designers, Builders, and Marketers to build Flutterwave, to simplify payments for endless possibilities.
Today, we support international payments for over 34 countries and process payments across 150 currencies. We have over 300,000 businesses using our solutions to receive money from their customers and continue on their growth journey.
During the lockdown, you helped set up digital storefronts for over 20,000 of your clients. Why was it important for you even though e-commerce isn’t part of your core business?
This was our own way of helping our customers cushion the impact of the pandemic. The lockdowns in 2020 meant that businesses that earlier depended on making physical sales were all out of revenue opportunities. We built out this solution to enable them to continue selling while they were at home.
Flutterwave has over 25,000 businesses across Africa— some selling skincare, beauty products, others selling shoes and fashion items, etc on the Flutterwave Store. It’s interesting to note how small businesses are currently using the solutions and the huge opportunity this has for the future.
Here are a few ways small businesses are using the solution. This barbecue Business—Smoked Barbecue in a Box offers home delivery with the support of Flutterwave Store. This cocktail company—Big Fish Cocktail offers unique drinks sold over the Flutterwave Store.
What are some of your plans to offer payment services to US-based clients and companies?
We are excited for the opportunity to offer Flutterwave’s payment infrastructure to US-based clients and companies. Currently, we are already working with merchants such as Uber, Netflix, and Microsoft on their expansion across Africa. And, we have started talking to many other US-based merchants that have growth ambitions across the continent.
We also have several strategic partnerships that will help us expand the services that we can offer to our merchant base and look forward to launching those in the near future for our US merchants.
What are your thoughts on the importance of African Americans being more involved in the African startup scene as founders and/or investors?
First is the massive economic benefits and opportunities for African Americans to access the widely untapped trillion dollar economic opportunities both in Africa and in the US. By 2030, Africa will have 1.7 billion people and a combined consumer and business spending of 6.7 trillion U.S. dollars (Brookings). The continent is creating a new development path and harnessing the potential of its people and resources.
Secondly is the socio-economic benefit. The African-American community can play a huge part in the prosperity of the continent by starting up or investing in businesses that will bring socio-economic change and employ more people on the continent. Advancing US-Africa trade, investment, and technology in Africa would unlock massive economic growth and increased prosperity for both regions.
What future plans do you have that involve cryptocurrency?
We support our customers and help them in countries where they are compliant with the regulations. We are excited to explore diverse use cases of our solutions across the world and across various sectors in compliance with regulations guiding such sectors and countries. Our future plans include working with all stakeholders to better understand and use the technology in a way that protects the consumers.
What advice do you have for those in the Diaspora that are interested in entering the rapidly growing tech startup space in Nigeria?
Just do it! Through skill share, knowledge share, and investments in the tech ecosystem, the African diaspora can help unlock some of the continent’s full potential. The best time to invest in Africa was a few years back.
The second best time is now. The continent is on the fast track in building cutting edge technologies across healthcare, payments, logistics, e-commerce and the market is readily available.
The regulators are also learning fast and catching up with the speedy innovations on the continent. Africa is rich in talent; the diaspora should consider looking inward for talents that can help build, run and scale their businesses.