Umba, an Irish founded fintech and digital bank for emerging markets has raised $2 million in seed funding as it seeks to expand its operations in Africa. It currently operates in Kenya and Nigeria.
Umba as a digital bank, offers a transparent and accessible digital financial service alternative to legacy African banks, an underserved market in the region. They have products such as current accounts, instant peer-to-peer payments, bill payments and lending through a mobile app.
“From the outset we built our platform to serve multiple markets, currencies and payment infrastructure. This flexibility is an extremely important consideration as it’s much harder to upgrade your systems at a later date,” said Umba’s chief executive, Tiernan Kennedy.
Tierman Kennedy continues, “For example bank and debit card penetration is high in Nigeria, so Umba is deeply integrated into those payment methods, while across Kenya and East Africa mobile money is dominant so our platform is tightly integrated with those services, too.”
Kenya and Nigeria are the two top markets for venture investment in Africa, with more than 250 million people combined. “We are testing what’s working. We have multiple products – a free bank account with no fees, that is compelling already; then we have things like bill pay with cashback, and then we are working on things like saving accounts with the ability to put aside money in multiple pots.” – Tierman Kennedy.
This is the first investment in the African market for Ludlow Ventures.
“The team at Umba have an excellent service that drives down the cost of banking for their customers and democratises access. The move away from physical branch infrastructure was already underway and it has accelerated this year.” – said Ludlow Ventures partner Brett DeMarrais.
“As an investor, it’s also very encouraging to see the investment activity that has also increased…It’s clear the African market is maturing and that we’re entering a very interesting phase.” he added.
Umba, a company founded by Barry O’Mahony and co-founder Tiernan Kennedy, currently employs 20 people. They hope for further growth in the coming months as it expands its business in Africa.
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Curacel: Insurtech Startup Secures $450K Pre-seed Funding Led by Atlantica Ventures & Consonance
The insurtech startup, Curacel, an AI-powered platform for claims processing and fraud management in Africa, reports that it has raised $450,000 pre-seed funding in a round that was led by Atlantica Ventures and Consonance with participation from Kepple Ventures and other African angel investors.
The insurtech startup already works with some of the biggest insurers on the continent, including AXA Mansard, Liberty Health and Old Mutual, as well as more than 800 hospitals in Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda. It plans to expand into 10 new African countries by the end of 2021.
Every year, African insurers lose more than $12 billion to fraudulent, wasteful, and abusive claims. Curacel’s flagship CLAIMS platform acts as a bridge between primary care hospitals and Africa’s insurance companies, using advanced artificial intelligence to ensure that insurance companies only pay claims for the correct treatment, appropriate medications and recommended patient therapies.
Curacel is also scheduled to launch Curacel Capital, a cash advance product that makes it easier for healthcare providers to access working capital to mitigate financial challenges. Delayed payments and other inefficiencies in the payment process means many African healthcare providers often have to make the difficult choice between keeping the books balanced or providing healthcare at a loss. With Curacel Capital, healthcare providers can access lump sums of up to three times their average monthly billings, based on claims processed on the Curacel portal, ensuring that they can continue to deliver essential services without undue disruption.
With insurance penetration at just 2.8% across the continent, many Africans are one accident or health emergency away from poverty. And in Africa’s communal societies, tragedy impacts entire communities, with people emptying their savings to pay for medical expenses, burials or other disaster relief for family members and kin. By leveraging Curacel’s products and services, insurers across the continent are better equipped to close the insurance gap and safeguard prosperity.
According to Curacel Co-founder and CEO, Henry Mascot, in a press statement said,
“We are excited to have these investors on board and we are looking forward to partnering with them to drive our vision of improving insurance inclusion across Africa.”
At Curacel he shares, they are uniquely positioned to safeguard livelihoods and increase the quality of life through their unique, market-leading products and services.
IK Kanu, Partner at Atlantica Ventures noted that,
“The African insurance market represents a significant growth opportunity and we are delighted to be partnering with Curacel to drive growth in this sector. There is an opportunity to create an entirely new market of products and services here and we look forward to supporting the team to improve health outcomes across the continent.”
Finally, Mobolaji Adeoye, the Managing Partner at Consonance adds that they believe the Curacel team has what it takes to be market leaders and are therefore excited to support them. Also stressing that they have a great product and equally delighted to be coming onboard at this early stage of their growth.
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