Cellulant, a premier African digital payment platform operating in Kenya and Nigeria, has sold an unspecified stake to US-based private investment firm, TPG for $47.5 million. The company’s CEO says the deal will be a game-changer as both firms seek to disrupt Africa’s financial services sector in a positive way.
Cellulant is self-described as the payments platform for businesses on the move while TPG is one of the largest private equity investment firms in the world.
“With two thirds of Africans unable to access a bank account, we believe that building a connected payments infrastructure is the foundation of solving real challenges and accelerating Africa’s growth and development,” said Ken Njoroge, Cellulant Co-Founder and Chief Executive.
Speaking after the announcement on May 14th, 2018, Bill McGlashan, CEO and Co-Founder of The Rise Fund, the impact investment arm of TPG that invested the cash, explained that across the continent, expanding easy-to-use and low cost mobile banking offers immense potential for impact.
“Cellulant is at the leading edge of that work,” he said.
The announcement comes just five months after Cellulant entered a deal with Kenya Airways, the East African country’s national carrier.
Kenya Airways, which flys to 53 destinations worldwide, partnered with Cellulant in December 2017 to provide a variety of mobile and bank payment options to its customers paying for bookings online.
Kenya Airways Chief Commercial Officer Vincent Coste noted at the time that the airline is keen to continually offer innovative solutions at a speed to match the constantly evolving marketplace by embracing technology to enhance customer experience and increase efficiency in how it does business.
The May 2018 deal, however, has been described as the largest of its kind by TPG.
It involved not only Rise, but Endeavor Catalyst, Satya Capital and Velocity Capital. The board of Rise includes Bono, the lead singer for famous rock band, U2, London-based Sudanese tycoon Mo Ibrahim and Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay.
Cellulant, which operates in 11 African markets, was founded in Nigeria and Kenya in 2004. The company offers digital payments platforms and mobile banking services to consumers who would otherwise remain unbanked.