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Onafriq aims to create digital pathways for Africa

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African mobile financial services (MFS) platform Onafriq believes it is on a journey to become an omnichannel, multichannel digital platform for African consumers connecting them to the rest of the world.

These were sentiments shared by Onafriq Southern and East Africa MD Rachel Balsham in an interview with Connecting Africa on the sidelines of the Africa Tech Festival.

Onafriq recently rebranded from MFS Africa and Balsham said, in the beginning, the company was very focused on mobile money.

"In its early days, MFS Africa used mobile money to enable cross-border transactions for our consumers as well as our consumers globally," Balsham said.

"As we grew, our offering matured and we grew beyond a mobile-centric approach, so in addition to our mobile money partners, we also connect to banks, cards as well as a wide variety of type of business cases," she explained.

Therefore, mobile money services as a descriptor became limiting, and last year, Onafriq acquired US-based fintech company Global Technology Partners (GTP) for US$34 million in cash and shares.

"It turned out that in the USA, another company had the trademark for the name MFS, so we decided that there was an opportunity to bring all of our offerings under the same umbrella and unite the story of our varied offerings," she continued.

Onafriq as a new name

Balsham said the new name aligns with the company's values as it has always been Afrocentric in its approach.

"Our new name draws inspiration from "Ona", the Yoruba word for pathways and it also means to see in Swahili and "Afrique", is the French word for Africa, so we want to create pathways for Africa," she said.

She added that the company's mission has always been to allow anyone in the world to transact without any limitations.

"We now connect to banks and cash pick-up networks, offering a more comprehensive range of services and the name Onafriq reflects this broader scope and ambition.

"The name MFS Africa, just like an old jacket, was getting a little tight for us as we've grown. We've expanded beyond just mobile financial services, becoming a true omnichannel platform across the continent and beyond," said Onafriq Founder and CEO Dare Okoudjou in a press release about the name change.

Onafriq African expansion

Onafriq's network spans 40 African markets and connects over 500 million mobile money wallets, 200 million bank accounts and 300,000 agents in Nigeria.

This connectivity enables domestic and international disbursements and collections, card issuing and processing, agency banking and treasury services.

Onafriq Founder and CEO Dare Okoudjou.   (Source: Onafriq).
Onafriq Founder and CEO Dare Okoudjou.
(Source: Onafriq).

To continue creating those digital pathways, Onafriq secured three licenses PSP (Payment Service Provider), PSO (Payment Systems Operator), and IPI (Issuer of a Payment Instrument) from the Bank of Uganda (BoU) in November 2022.

Those licenses came a year after it acquired Beyonic, a Ugandan-based digital payments services provider for enterprises operating in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda.

In April 2022, the company completed its acquisition of Nigerian super-agent Capricorn Digital Limited, Baxi's parent company, following approval of the transaction by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Later in June 2022, it raised a Series C extension round of US$100 million comprising both equity and debt financing.

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*Top image is Onafriq Southern and East Africa MD Rachel Balsham (Source: Onafriq).

Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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