South African fintech startup Wala, a blockchain-powered financial services platform for the unbanked and underbanked, has secured equity investment from Newtown Partners, the venture capital firm founded by Llew Claasen and Vinny Lingham.
Founded in 2015, Wala provides access to transactional banking, remittances, loans and insurance, working with specialist providers to offer a full suite of financial services.
The startup has already grown its financial services community to one million consumers in over 100 countries, and will use the equity investment from Newtown Partners to deliver on the promise of zero-fee financial services for the 3.5b billion consumers who are currently excluded from the formal financial system.
“Through the use of blockchain technology and tokenization, we have developed a platform that makes it possible to serve the financially excluded economically at scale. Our community’s guidance has ensured that the Wala Financial Platform has been built by the people for the people,” said Wala founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Tricia Martinez.
The startup has been testing prototypes of the Wala Financial Platform, and demonstrating that digital technology can be used to effectively remove barriers to the adoption of financial services. The roll out of the Wala platform is initially planned for emerging markets in Africa, following the footprint of local banking services partners, before expanding globally.
“We are thrilled to be working with Newtown Partners,” Martinez said. “The depth and breadth of their expertise as both entrepreneurs and investors in technology, combined with their commitment to creating globally successful startups will be key to the future success of Wala. We are excited about taking the next steps in our journey with Llew and Vinny.”
As part of that journey, Wala will be the launch partner for a new financial services utility token, Dala, which will be sold and issued in a crowdfunding token sale this October. Dala will support the operationalisation and further development of scalable, blockchain-enabled financial platforms for developing markets around a common unit of account and microeconomic incentive structure to create strong network effects.
The Dala token sale will look to crowdfund US$30 million over a four-week period and issue participants with their share of 300 million Dala utility tokens.
“Wala’s blockchain-enabled platform will enable greater access to zero fee financial services to billions of consumers in emerging markets and enable everyone to become economically active, no matter where in the world they are. These are the kinds of big problems being addressed by bold innovations that we like to back,” said Claasen.