Bankly, a Nigerian fintech startup digitizing cash for the unbanked, announced that it has closed a $2 million seed round.
The investment round was led by Vault, the holding company of VANSO, a fintech that was sold to Interswitch in 2016 and Flutterwave as well as Plug and Play Ventures, Rising Tide Africa and Chrysalis Capital.
Founded by Tomilola Adejana and Fredrick Adams in 2018, Bankly is digitizing the informal thrift collections system known with different names such as esusu or ajo in Nigeria.
Bankly operates like a traditional bank but with fewer assets, revenue, customers and operational costs. But because it doesn’t spend a lot in acquiring customers and building physical presences, it can pass on those cost savings to customers as interests and still make decent margins.
Agents on the platform also take commissions for any transaction a customer makes through them. This time last year, the company had a little over 2,000 agents across the country. Now, that number has grown to 15,000.
The company still plans to add more agents with the new investment received. To increase its 35,000 customer base in cash-dependent communities, Bankly will also provide direct-to-consumer products in the coming months.
In Bankly’s three years of operation, Adejana cites finding the right partners, talent, and most importantly, the right investors as challenges that the company has faced. Due to the nature of Bankly’s business, Adejana didn’t accept some of the investments offered to the company and only let in investors who aligned with the company’s plans for the unbanked.
“We’ve had to be patient to make sure that we were talking to people who deeply understand the problem and are passionate about solving it and are not about getting returns as soon as possible,” she said.