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Umba; Monzo founder backed fintech snaps $15M to expand across Africa

Umba Team
Image credits: Umba

Umba, a digital banking startup based in Lagos, Nigeria, has just closed $15M in Series A funding, almost 2 years since its $2M seed round. In total, Umba has raised $17.5M to date. The startup hopes to bring a wide range of transparent and accessible financial products to the underserved majority by legacy banks across Africa. Astoundingly, 57% of the region’s population is lacking an account at financial institutions.

The funding was led by Costanoa Ventures, with participation from Lux Capital, Banana Capital, Palm Drive Capital, Chandaria Capital and Streamlined Ventures. Previous investors also participated, including ACT Ventures and Lachy Groom, as well as angel investors including Monzo’s Founder Tom Blomfield and executives from NuBank.

“This is a great milestone for Umba, and we’re excited to bring in new partners to fuel our growth,” Umba CEO Tiernan Kennedy was quoted “There is great potential for Umba to provide useful, accessible products and services that financially empower underserved customers.”

Further pushing the Nubank model

The company’s CEO, Tiernan Kennedy, recently mentioned that Umba operates the credit-led model pioneered by Nubank. The company first solves the liquidity problem for customers before upselling them on a broad spectrum of banking products.

Additionally, Umba features free bank accounts, interbank transfers, peer-to-peer transfers and bill payments facilities. These are standard features provided by digital banks in Africa, regardless of their models, whether deposit-first, credit-first or a hybrid of the two.

There’s generally no shortage of digital banks in Nigeria and Africa. With the region further experiencing a growing young population and its corresponding rapid growth in mobile usage, fintechs believe this is the best time to provide financial services to everyone, from the banked to the unbanked.

More on Umba

Founded by Barry O’Mahony and Tiernan Kennedy in 2018, Umba has grown exponentially, doubling its revenue every three months while growing its team across four locations and achieving over 1M app installs on Google Play Store. The firm’s leadership has admitted that its focus on engineering and customer experience has been key to its growth and will be instrumental in Umba’s push to serve multiple markets, currencies and payment infrastructures.

With its new funding, Umba will unveil new product offerings to its growing customer base including debit cards, savings accounts and stock trading. Umba is also preparing to launch in new markets including Kenya, Ghana and Egypt, where mobile money is prominent.

Umba has already made several key hires for its new phase of geographical growth, including the ex-CFO of Nigerian unicorn Interswitch, the former CTO and CAO from Calypso Technology and senior staff from Carbon and Zynga.

“Right now, we’ve solved for credits and spending; what’s next is savings and investments, creating new markets opening up, that means hiring up staff in our three new markets,” commented Tiernan Kennedy.

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