Investing in Africa promises to be easier as blockchain fintech Zone raises $8.5 million to expand business

BY Preta Peace Namasaba March 19, 2024 2:46 PM EDT
Zone has raised $8.5 million in seed funding. Photo credit: Zone

Nigerian fintech Zone has raised $8.5 million in an oversubscribed seed funding round. The fast-growing payment infrastructure company is Africa’s first regulated blockchain network for payments. It has already signed up more than 15 of Africa’s largest banks and fintech companies.

“The participation of high-quality investors despite the funding drought and the fact that we had more interested investors than we needed, is a sign of trust in the Zone brand and investor excitement about the opportunity to redefine payment infrastructure in Africa. As we step into this new phase at Zone, we are re-energized and our commitment to transforming Africa’s payment infrastructure is renewed,” said Obi Emetarom, CEO and co-founder of Zone, about the funding round.

For over a decade, Appzone, the mother firm of Zone, has been helping African financial institutions scale their solutions by using an innovative approach. The company functioned as an enabler within banking and payments, developing custom software and software-as-a-service products for over 18 commercial banks and more than 450 microfinance banks across Africa. It has built a reputation for offering better pricing and flexibility compared to its competitors.

In 2022, the fintech’s founders Emeka Emetarom, Obi Emetarom, and Wale Onawunmi decided to integrate blockchain technology into legacy banking and payment systems. This is how Zone, a licensed blockchain-enabled payment infrastructure company that aims to revolutionize the industry was created. The firm recognizes that Africa’s current payment infrastructure may not be suitable for transitioning to a cashless future and is developing an interoperable payment infrastructure using blockchain technology. Its blockchain network enables payments and acceptance of digital currencies.

The new funding will allow Zone to expand its domestic network coverage and connect more banks and financial services companies. A major portion of the 8.5 million will be used to conduct a comprehensive pilot programme to test the Company’s cross-border capabilities. Zone intends to spread its footprint across Africa to support intra-African and international payments which will bring the company closer to its vision of becoming a global payment network.

Zone’s blockchain technology can drastically decrease costs for hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses that rely on digital payments in Africa daily. So far, the fintech has processed transactions at more than 6,000 ATMs for more than 10 million cardholders. It processed over $1 million within three months of launching the ATM use case.

“We are poised to accelerate our mission to connect every monetary store of value and enable real-time payments within and across geographical borders. Zone is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancement and industry evolution in financial services,” Emetarom said about Zone’s future.