EBANX: We will be operating in 11 African countries by the end of the year (2023)

For all the talk about emerging markets and their similarities, moves involving African startups expanding to Latin America are rare. Only two significant activities come to mind recently: Migo’s expansion to Brazil and Paga’s planned move to Mexico, their respective second markets outside Africa.

What’s rarer, however, is the reverse -- Latin American tech startups extending their footprint into Africa. That makes the news of Brazilian fintech unicorn EBANX expanding operations into Africa somewhat impressive. Last September, the payments technology company, which provided local payment solutions across 15 countries before the announcement, said Africa was its first expansion outside Latin America, taking its market footprint to 18, including South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

The rationale behind EBANX’s African move isn’t lost on anyone. The continent presents a $115 billion digital economy, resulting from a combination of a young and digitally savvy population and increasing digital penetration, according to a report by Endeavor and McKinsey & Company. In addition, the fintech considers Africa -- the fastest-growing digital games market globally, according to Newzoo -- to be the “next big frontier” for e-commerce, payments and rapid fintech evolution -- similar to Latin America, where it was founded about a decade ago.

“This is the moment for Africa, and it’s quite reminiscent of the Latin American landscape back in 2012 when EBANX first began its journey by providing global merchants access to sell more goods and digital services via the internet to Latin Americans through local payment methods,” co-founder and CEO João Del Valle said.

EBANX has made gradual progress since the announcement six months ago. The startup, which processes payments for brands such as Meta, Coinbase, TikTok and Garena in Latin America, confirmed to TechCrunch that the volume of transactions processed through its payment platform in the region has jumped 70% in this timeframe. The hiring of Wiza Jalakasi, ex-VP at African fintech unicorn Chipper Cash, last month to lead its operations on the continent signifies the fintech’s intentions to turbocharge this growth.

In this interview with TechCrunch, Jalakasi, Africa Market Development director at EBANX, and Paula Bellizia, president of Global Payments at EBANX, discussed what the fintech’s global merchants and African customers should expect from its expansion into Africa.

TechCrunch: For some tech observers, it’s unclear what EBANX does. Is this another Interswitch, Flutterwave, or Paystack targeting local businesses and customers, or is the company targeting a new set of customers that these payment gateways don’t serve?

Wiza: It’s very much on the latter side. So it’s global brands that are looking at emerging markets as a category and may not consider Africa as a region or the continent doesn’t make a business case or make sense from a numbers perspective. But because we have this depth of coverage in Latin America, and we already have established relationships with them, it becomes a question of, “Hey, we can also add these incremental countries,” and that becomes a bit of a more robust business case for some merchants who might not be ready to take that jump yet.

Many payment providers are servicing the continent, but a lot of their merchants are usually localized in the region, which means there’s definitely room for players like EBANX to come in to serve a different segment with different needs, and in some cases, even collaborate with local processors to make the pie bigger for everyone.

(Video) Tech Talk: interview with Simon Davies, Ebanx

Paula: ​​To add, EBANX, through one single API today, we integrate more than 100 payment methods, which means that for every merchant and brand working with us, with very seamless integration, they have access to all those different markets with the specificity of every alternative payment methods, that is the preferred payment method by the consumers locally.

It’s not every day you see Latin American startups expanding to Africa; curious to understand the play for EBANX, which is well known in Latin America, where it has a presence in about 15 countries, including Brazil, its home market.

Paula: Over the last 11 years, we have tried to solve the complexity of payments in Latin America while working to understand the local needs, regulations and partnerships in each of the 15 countries we’re in. We’ve integrated that into a very technological but, at the same time, straightforward solution that helps our merchants to do business and provide access to the biggest global brands on the planet.

Based on that experience, we’re looking at how Africa’s digital economy is starting to develop and unfold and seeing similarities with Latin America in the last decade. For instance, nearly 12% of the African population made a purchase online, the continent’s SaaS market is growing, the most prominent technology platforms are investing in Africa, and it holds a very young population pushing for digitization.

It’s a vast continent and we want it to be our priority. The spoiler is that we will be operating in 11 countries by the end of this year. So think about that because it took us 11 years to run deeply in 15 countries across Latin America; this is how serious, aggressive, and fast we want to be.

Considering Africa’s strictly regulated fintech market, isn’t 11 countries overly ambitious to cover in a year? And what does it matter to the merchants that EBANX is present in these countries?

Paula: We are a very ambitious company. When we started 11 years ago, we were also developing our operating model and what we learned in Latin America also positions us well to deal with the complexity of other rising markets like Africa. And the EBANX that we are today sets us in a perfect place to serve our global merchants in Africa. So that, then, I would say, is the number one.

Secondly, we are already live in three of the biggest markets in Africa: South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. We will focus on some similarities and differences between those countries and the other smaller markets. But we believe that those three markets being live will also potentialize our learning, scale and partnerships that we are building as well in the region.

EBANX: We will be operating in 11 African countries by the end of the year (1)

(Video) EBANX Summit 2018 - Official Video

Wiza Jalakasi (Director, Africa Market Development). Image Credits: EBANX

Wiza: Coverage and depth are essential for us. So for the big markets, we will go very deep, ensuring that we have an excellent understanding and all of the relevant payment methods. In some of the other markets, our merchants might not be as deep but need to be there because when they evaluate where to go next, they’re going to sum up the opportunity as a function of the size of the footprint they can get. So for our merchants, it makes a difference to say that we can give you 11 countries instead of three, especially if they don’t have any other context about Africa.

EBANX will seek to establish partnerships on the continent if that's the case. Can you disclose some that have been struck already?

Paula: Yes, at the heart of what we do is the reach and the deepness of our partnerships in every market we operate in. And by partnerships, we also include the entire ecosystem of payments, from the startups and local payment providers to the alternative payment methods and the banks locally and internationally.

In terms of specific partnerships, we are evaluating a few but are not at the moment able to disclose, but I can tell you that we will be working with all the relevant players in the region. So far, we’ve established connections with payment providers and provide consumers with bank transfer, card processing and USSD options here in Nigeria. We have in Kenya, M-PESA, and South Africa, Ozow.

Interesting. Talking about consumers, what immediate ways are they adopting EBANX?

Wiza: There is an appetite for global services in markets like Nigeria, for example, if you look at the space of virtual cards, which wasn’t a thing before but has popped up within the last three to four years, as more Nigerians demand dollar cards for international payments. But many would prefer to pay with a simple naira bank transfer.

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A lot of the work we’ll be doing is to make it easier for people to pay with the most familiar methods, for instance, local cards, so that they may not have to rely on an external or U.S.-issued card to make international payments. In Nigeria, bank transfers are big; Ozow in South Africa is similar but employs an EFT solution; there’s mobile money in Kenya. So I think they’re obvious signs that there is already demand, and if you look at that demand, combined with the growth rates, I think the story tells itself. With global merchants also trying to see high acceptance rates from payment methods in the region, we are finding a natural fit within that evolving demand.

Which global merchants are currently processing payments with EBANX from African customers? And which verticals do they operate in?

Wiza: There are transacting merchants in all three countries, although we can’t specify. But the most significant impact is that consumers will likely see more choices and some exciting merchants lined up to go live quite soon. For some of these merchants, it’ll be their first time doing alternative payment methods in some of the biggest markets, including Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.

We have merchants accelerating and growing in e-commerce, SaaS and gaming. We’re excited about all three verticals. But I think gaming will take off massively. We’ve already seen several publishing houses starting to support gaming as a vertical. We’ve seen investment in this space, for example, Carry1st and when I look at the numbers from published sources, there is an evident upward trend.

I think we’re well-positioned to take advantage of those verticals, especially anything digital goods and content where merchants tend to have a higher “risk appetite for those verticals” because they have very low, if not zero, marginal cost of production for additional units.

From your perspective, what challenges do you foresee that an established fintech like EBANX might face in extending its services and operations into a complex market like Africa? And how does your experience help the business?

Wiza: I think one of the most significant contributions I’m hoping to make, having lived in Kenya and South Africa and spent time in many other African countries, will be centered around market knowledge, especially for the merchants and helping them understand the mental models that consumers have on the continent. Second to that is really in the process of developing those ecosystem partnerships and establishing the brand look.

(Video) Brazil: Latin America Market [2019]

Regarding specific challenges, the fact of the matter is that EBANX doesn’t have a reputation for operating in Africa because we’re setting up for the first time. For us, establishing that degree of trust and credibility that we’ve been able to do for most of Latin America in Africa will be a journey and won’t happen overnight. Still, we’re counting on the expertise that we’ve been able to develop in that region.

There are many other considerations, especially on the operational front, when dealing with fragmented markets and economies. The internal tooling I’ve seen at EBANX is quite impressive. I can imagine how that can be applied to this local landscape to make it cheaper and faster for merchants to adopt various payment methods. I think this is important because it starts unlocking Africa's viability as a target market for some of these brands.

Africa is a big economy but not so much in the global context. When you look at some massive businesses with customers in Africa, they cannot set up infrastructure and payments to serve locally. So if we can simplify that process for them, it starts to make it a lot easier for them to begin to think about the business case for the continent.

So far, what’s being projected is that EBANX is here to stay and the company isn’t just testing the waters with Africa. However, are there plans to set up a team on the continent? If yes, what would that look like?

Paula: The short answer is yes, we have plans to build a sustainable and long-term team across the continent where we’ve been evaluating which region takes the product, partnership, and sales teams.

There will be the right moment for us to do that. We are already a global company with teams operating and based in 20 countries in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia. We have been building global teams and are ready to do the same thing in Africa.

We are beyond the testing phase because we are live and operating. We are already bringing our top-notch merchants to the region, and we wouldn’t be doing that if we were testing. So it’s real and concrete. So the short answer to your question is yes, we plan to add teams in Africa and carefully evaluate where they’ll be among those 11 countries.

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What will success in Africa look like for EBANX in the next five years?

Paula: We aim to be the most relevant partner to our merchants operating globally and targeting Africa. Success will be about how many new customers and businesses we will be able to provide to them; also, as in the access we give to millions of consumers and the alternative payments we onboard on our platform. There is another aspect that I think is deepening financial inclusion. In Latin America, we have been able to further financial inclusion, especially in Brazil, and we believe we can do that in Africa with our services.


EBANX: We will be operating in 11 African countries by the end of the year? ›

It's a vast continent and we want it to be our priority. The spoiler is that we will be operating in 11 countries by the end of this year. So think about that because it took us 11 years to run deeply in 15 countries across Latin America; this is how serious, aggressive, and fast we want to be.

Which European countries controlled the most of Africa? ›

According to the graph the two countries that held the most land in the continent of Africa were the French and the British.

How many countries do we have in Africa? ›

There are 54 countries in Africa today, according to the United Nations. The full list is shown in the table below, with current population and subregion (based on the United Nations official statistics).

How many independent countries are in Africa today? ›

48 countries share the area of mainland Africa, plus six island nations are considered to be part of the continent. All in all, there are 54 sovereign African countries and two disputed areas, namely Somaliland (autonomous region of Somalia) and Western Sahara (occupied by Morocco and claimed by the Polisario).

What countries are in Africa? ›

Which is bigger Africa or United States? ›

The total area of Africa is 30.4 million square kilometers (11.7 million square miles). The total area of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) is 9.6 million square kilometers (3.8 million square miles). Africa is more than three times the size of the US.

How much of Africa is under European control? ›

Established empires—notably Britain, France, Spain and Portugal—had already claimed coastal areas but had not penetrated deeply inland. Europeans controlled one tenth of Africa, primarily along the Mediterranean and in the far south.

Why is Africa important to the world? ›

The continent has 40 percent of the world's gold and up to 90 percent of its chromium and platinum. The largest reserves of cobalt, diamonds, platinum and uranium in the world are in Africa. It holds 65 per cent of the world's arable land and ten percent of the planet's internal renewable fresh water source.

What is the oldest country in Africa? ›

Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence and is Africa's first and oldest modern republic.

Is Africa a 3 world country? ›

The Third World includes all countries of Africa (except South Africa), Asia (except Japan), and Latin America and the Caribbean, and some states and territories of Oceania.

Who owns most of Africa? ›

According to the land survey conducted by the African Development Bank, 64 percent of the total land area of Africa is owned by the state and other institutions, while 36 percent is privately owned. As with other developing countries, government-owned land makes up the bulk of the agricultural land in Africa.

What was the original name of Africa? ›

In Kemetic History of Afrika, Dr cheikh Anah Diop writes, “The ancient name of Africa was Alkebulan. Alkebu-lan “mother of mankind” or “garden of Eden”.” Alkebulan is the oldest and the only word of indigenous origin. It was used by the Moors, Nubians, Numidians, Khart-Haddans (Carthagenians), and Ethiopians.

What is the largest city in Africa? ›

What is the black population in Africa? ›

If we take the varying non-black ethnicities of Northern Africa into consideration, we can estimate that approximately 980 million black people live on the African continent.

What is the most populated country in Africa? ›

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa followed by Ethiopia, DR Congo, Egypt and South Africa. Seven (7) countries in Africa have populations greater than 50 million. Thirty (30) countries have populations greater than 10 million. Nigeria and Ethiopia account for roughly 25% of Africa's population.

What is African French called? ›

African French (French: français africain) is the generic name of the varieties of the French language spoken by an estimated 167 million people in Africa in 2023 or 51% of the French-speaking population of the world, spread across 34 countries and territories.

Which is bigger Russia or Africa? ›

Africa is about 1.8 times bigger than Russia.

Russia is approximately 17,098,242 sq km, while Africa is approximately 30,365,000 sq km, making Africa 78% larger than Russia. We have positioned the outline of Russia near the middle of Africa. This to-scale comparison of Russia vs.

Is Africa bigger than China? ›

Indeed, Africa is 3 times bigger than China. China is the third (or fourth biggest country, depending on the definintion) in the world with an area of 6.4% of the total of the world.

Is California bigger than Africa? ›

California is approximately 403,882 sq km, while South Africa is approximately 1,219,090 sq km, making South Africa 202% larger than California.

What countries will split in Africa? ›

Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia would have two territories each. Though that will take between five to 10 million years, with fault lines widening 7 mm every year, the continent will eventually split into two sub-continents, creating a new ocean basin between them.

Will Africa overtake Europe? ›

With continuing high fertility in east, west and central Africa, the continent will contribute 1.3 billion of the 2 billion increase in the global population between 2019 and 2050. By then, the populations of east and west Africa will each exceed that of Europe.

Which Africa country was not colonized? ›

Key Takeaways. Ethiopia and Liberia are widely believed to be the only two African countries to have never been colonized. Their location, economic viability, and unity helped Ethiopia and Liberia avoid colonization.

What is the richest continent in the world? ›

List by the International Monetary Fund (2023 estimate)
RankContinentGDP (billions of current Int$)
3North America33,728
4 more rows

Why is Africa called the Dark continent? ›

Africa was originally dubbed the “Dark Continent” by Welsh journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who saw Africa as mysterious. Its landscapes and cultures were largely unknown to many outsiders until the late nineteenth century.

Which is the most spoken language in Africa? ›

The most widely spoken languages of Africa, Swahili (200 million), Yoruba (45 million), Igbo (30 million), and Fula (35 million) all belong to the Niger-Congo family.

What is the oldest country in America? ›

The oldest sovereign nation in the Americas is the USA. The country officially came into existence on July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

What was Ethiopia originally called? ›

Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia, is a landlocked country in the East of Africa. It shares one of its borders with Somalia, to the East.

What country is First World? ›

Examples of first world countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Several Western European nations qualify as well, especially Great Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries. The ways that first world countries are defined can vary.

Is Mexico a First World? ›

The World Bank classifies Mexico as an upper-middle-income country. However, the country is characterised by vast social disparities. More than 40 per cent of the people live in poverty.

Is South Africa rich or poor? ›

The economy of South Africa is the second largest in Africa and the most industrialized, technologically advanced, and diversified economy in Africa overall. South Africa is an upper-middle-income economy, one of only eight such countries in Africa.

What land does China own in Africa? ›

The total area of Africa is approximately 1.2 billion acres, of which 71% is covered by land and 29% is covered by water. The total area of land that China owns in Africa is approximately 186,000 square miles (465,000 square kilometers). This is around 7% of the total land area in Africa.

Where has China bought land in Africa? ›

It has long been rumored that the Chinese firm Zhongxing Telecommunications (ZTE) has purchased 3 million hectares of land to develop a palm oil plantation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

What nationality is the richest man in Africa? ›


What is Africa called in the Bible? ›

Cush, Cushitic and Cushi

In the Major Prophets, the terms used to refer to Africa and Africans appear more than 180 times. Cush appears also as a geographical location.

Is the garden of Eden in Africa? ›

The real Garden Of Eden has been traced to the African nation of Botswana, according to a major study of DNA. Scientists believe our ancestral homeland is south of the Zambezi River in the country's north.

Who found Africa? ›

Portuguese explorer Prince Henry, known as the Navigator, was the first European to methodically explore Africa and the oceanic route to the Indies.

What is the largest English speaking city in Africa? ›

Major South African cities hold the highest concentration of English-speaking residents, including Johannesburg. Known colloquially as Jozi, it is the largest city in the country and one of the world's 100 biggest urban areas.

What is the most developed city in Africa? ›

The city of Johannesburg, established during the Witwatersrand Gold Rush of 1886, holds the title of being the richest city in Africa.

Which is the most beautiful capital city in Africa? ›

Cape Town, South Africa.

What percentage of Africa was white? ›

In most of colonial Africa, Europeans accounted for under 1% of the population, except for the colonies in Northern and Southern Africa, which had the highest proportion of European colonists.

How many African are left in the world? ›

The current population of Africa is 1,432,298,029 as of Friday, May 12, 2023, based on the latest United Nations estimates. Africa population is equivalent to 16.72% of the total world population.

What is the largest race in the world? ›

The world's largest ethnic group is Han Chinese, constituting over 19% of the global population in 2011. In terms of the largest number of native speakers, Mandarin is the world's most spoken language.

What is the smallest country in Africa? ›

Seychelles is the smallest country in Africa overall, with The Gambia being the smallest country on continental Africa.

What country is Africa bigger than? ›

The African continent has a land area of 30.37 million sq km (11.7 million sq mi) — enough to fit in the U.S., China, India, Japan, Mexico, and many European nations, combined.

What is the newest country in Africa? ›

The newest internationally recognized country in the world is the African country of South Sudan, which declared independence on July 9, 2011. In the following days, it became also the newest member of the United Nations. What's the Difference Between Great Britain and the United Kingdom? You Name It!

What is the most spoken language in the world? ›

According to Ethnologue, English is the most-spoken language in the world including native and non-native speakers. Like Latin or Greek at the time, English has become the world's common language. It is the default language in international business, tourism, technology, and much more.

Which African country speaks Spanish? ›

Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, having become independent from Spain on October 12, 1968, during the eleventh Government of Francisco Franco, as part of the "process of decolonization of Africa", supported by the United Nations.

Where is African American English spoken? ›

African-American English (or AAE; also known as Black American English, or Black English in American linguistics) is the set of English sociolects spoken by most Black people in the United States and many in Canada; most commonly, it refers to a dialect continuum ranging from African-American Vernacular English to a ...

Is Africa home to 52 countries? ›

Africa is the world's second largest continent (11,700,000 miles). It is home to 52 countries, 1,000 different languages, and 800 million people. 10% of the world's population lives in Africa.

What is the largest country in Africa by population? ›

Nigeria is by far the largest country in terms of population, with more than 211 million people as of 2021. Ethiopia follows with almost 118 million, while Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Africa, and Kenya all have populations ranging from 92 million to 54 million.

Is Africa home to 54 countries? ›

It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states, eight territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is its largest by population.

What is the wealthiest country in Africa? ›

Seychelles is the richest country in Africa, with a GNI per capita of $14,540. Mauritius follows closely with a GNI per capita of $9,920, while Libya is the third richest country in Africa with a GNI per capita of $8,700. South Africa is the fourth richest country in Africa with a GNI per capita of $6,530.

Is Africa splitting in two? ›

Shifting tectonic plates have been splitting the continent since the East African Rift – a 35-mile-long crack in Ethiopia's desert – emerged in 2005. Tectonic plate shifts in Ethiopia show that the African continent is splitting in two – paving the way for Earth's sixth ocean to emerge, according to researchers.

What are the white countries in Africa? ›

Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Namibia all have white communities numbering in the tens of thousands, and thousands more are scattered among Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Senegal, Gabon, and beyond.

Who named Africa? ›

All historians agree that it was the Roman use of the term 'Africa' for parts of Tunisia and Northern Algeria which ultimately, almost 2000 years later, gave the continent its name. There is, however, no consensus amongst scholars as to why the Romans decided to call these provinces 'Africa'.

Which country owned the most land in Africa? ›

Answer and Explanation: The British Empire controlled the most land in Africa. With the creation of the world's largest and most powerful naval force, the British set off all over the globe for new territories to assimilate.

What country in Africa is 7 years behind the world? ›

Ethiopia's calendar takes its inspiration from the idea that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden for seven years before they were expelled for their sins. This country calculates the birth year of Jesus Christ differently.


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