Bloom, a Sudanese fintech startup, has raised a $6.5 million seed round from investors including Visa, Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital (GFC), Goodwater Capital, and VentureSouq.

Other investors include angels Arash Ferdowsi, Dropbox co-founder; Nicolas Kopp, former U.S. CEO of N26; footballers Blaise Matuidi and Kieran Gibbs; and early employees at Revolut and Tide.

The investment from Visa came as one of the incentives for Bloom’s participation in the global card scheme’s Fintech Fast Track Program. A partnership was formed, and as a result, Bloom — the first Sudanese startup to get admitted into the program — switched its cards from Mastercard to Visa.

“The Visa investment is critical for companies like us for a couple of reasons. One, aligning with Visa as a partner gives you a bunch of benefits, launching products faster, marketing support, and product support; and two, in addition to the investment, Visa Fintech Fast Track enables you to access these incentives in a streamlined way,” CEO Ahmed Ismail told TechCrunch in an interview.

Founded in July 2021 by Ahmed Ismail, Youcef Oudjidane, Khalid Keenan, and Abdigani Diriye, Bloom offers fee-free accounts for users to save in dollars and buy and spend in Sudanese pounds. It also provides local and dollar cards and a feature where they can receive remittance free of charge from several countries globally, mainly where most of the Sudanese diaspora reside. Bloom makes revenue from interest on these deposits, the interchange, and other ancillary streams. In March, the company announced that it was a part of Y Combinator’s winter batch this year after launching from stealth that same month.

Executives at Bloom and Visa say this investment and partnership can exponentially drive the adoption of Visa cards in Sudan and East Africa. In addition, Visa’s suite of products and services will provide customers with a secure and fast way to make online payments, according to Ahmed Mohey, Visa country general manager for Sudan and Libya.

“Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants,” Mohey added.

Roel Janssen, a partner at Global Founders Capital, shares similar sentiment about the team: “We are very excited by our investment in Bloom. Its experienced and talented founding team has the drive and expertise to build a product that is universally valued by consumers, partners, and regulators in Sudan and the wider East Africa region.”

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