Kenya’s AZA Finance raises $20m additional funding, makes 2nd acquisition to expand into SA

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Kenya-based fintech startup AZA Finance has taken on additional funding of US$20 million over the last 18 months, and has now expanded into South Africa with the acquisition of cross-border payments specialist Exchange4Free.

AZA Finance is an established provider of currency trading solutions that expand global access to frontier markets through an innovative API and web infrastructure. 

It was BitPesa until a rebrand in October 2019, which came after it had taken on a US$15 million debt facility with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to build its activities in the region. Since then, it has added another US$20 million in funding, and it is now formally active in South Africa after acquiring Exchange4free.

Exchange4free is a leading foreign exchange, money transfer and payments technology provider serving over 50,000 private and corporate clients worldwide. It is the second acquisition made by AZA, which as BitPesa bought Spain-based online money transfer platform TransferZero in 2018.

The deal makes AZA Finance the largest fintech provider of treasury and FX services to frontier markets, and will enable it to more than double transaction volume to US$2.5 billion in 2021 through synergies and leveraging cross-selling opportunities, while extending the company’s reach to 115 countries spanning Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and North America.

“This acquisition moves us further towards our goal of opening up intra-African and frontier market FX flows,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of AZA Finance. 

“Exchange4Free’s ethos and innovative solution is a great fit for AZA Finance in helping to build the digital infrastructure of the future that brings innovation and efficiency to meet corporate treasury and FX needs in frontier markets.”

The acquisition also enables AZA Finance to leverage Exchange4Free’s own platform for their services, including its set of APIs that provide companies with the FX, treasury, and regulatory compliance services they need to make cross-border payments into South Africa from more than 100 countries.  

“Exchange4Free has built technology to streamline FX and cross-border payment flows across a truly global transaction network,” said Mark Lawson, co-Founder and CEO at Exchange4Free. “The acquisition by AZA Finance will enable us to reach the scale we need to optimise this technology to deliver highly customisable solutions for our clients.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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