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Nigerian fintech startup Flutterwave says it has partnered with Alipay to establish digital payment channels between Africa and China. The partnership should see more of the multi-billion dollar intercontinental trade between both regions facilitated online, as their ecommerce sectors expand.

Flutterwave, a Lagos-based startup founded in 2016, currently serves businesses in Africa, enabling them to make and accept payments anywhere on the continent. It’s currently reaching into other parts of the world, in the bid to connect African merchants with the global market economy.

Its latest partner, Alipay, is the payments branch of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, and the world’s largest payments platform by volume of transactions. Alipay says it has over 1 billion users at the moment, many of whom are located in China.

The new relationship opens up that market to Flutterwave, and crucially, to the businesses on its platform. They will be able to accept payments directly from customers in China, as they already can from countries in Africa.

A statement on the fintech firm’s blog underlines the significance of the deal:

Flutterwave is now integrated with Alipay so this gives all Flutterwave merchants access to over 1 billion Alipay users… As a Flutterwave merchant, you don’t need to do anything as it’s been activated to all merchants.

The company’s 3.8% charge on international transactions applies to business done over this new channel.

Flutterwave’s customer base is a mix of small scale entrepreneurs and medium-sized businesses (about 60,000 of them), and corporate giants like Jumia, Uber, and Facebook. In the years since it was founded, it has processed transactions exceeding over $2.6 billion on its platform.

Last year, Flutterwave announced that it would be rolling out a new product, the Barter App, for customers in Africa. The service, developed in conjunction with Visa, an American payments company, allows users to create and fund virtual cards in their local currencies.  

Until recently, it seemed that China had been content with engaging the more traditional sectors of African individual countries. Energy, construction and commodities have been favourite destinations for the Asian giant’s investment. 

But there’s now talk of growing Chinese involvement with the African tech startup space via partnerships like the Alipay-Flutterwave deal, and investment in Opera’s attempts to scale up its mobile finance concern in Nigeria (announced earlier this month).  The extent of this new interest in the continent’s tech scene should become clearer in the months and years ahead.



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This article was first published on 31st July 2019


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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