BY OLIVIA NNOROM
Kora, a growing Nigerian payment infrastructure startup, has launched a fully operational office in the United Kingdom in partnership with the municipal government of Birmingham, the firm announced Wednesday.
The expansion deal, which was brokered and facilitated by the West Midlands Growth Company, will give Kora leverage to better serve its users in the region where the business has been getting a lot of traction.
It is also “an important next step” in the fulfilment of the Canada-based fintech firm’s long-held ambition “to make Africa open from a financial standpoint”, Gideon Orovwiroro, chief operating officer of Kora, said.
“Our global merchants kept asking us to be on the ground, and we want to be able to give them unique and tailored-made services. So, we are excited to partner with the West Midlands Growth Company whose ambition aligned with ours,” Orovwiroro said.
Kora said prior to this time it had leveraged partnership with third-party UK-based fintechs to serve its global merchants, but with the new development it would now acquire the necessary licence to serve its users better.
“We were running on the rail of partnership here in the UK, but now, as a result of us being present in the UK, we can go downstream—serving our customers directly,” Orovwiroro said.
The choice of Birmingham, in the heart of the UK’s fastest-growing region in terms of technology, took into consideration the city’s solid infrastructure and ease of access to talent.
With this partnership, the West Midlands Growth Company, an organisation responsible for driving regional investment promotion and economic development for the West Midlands and the UK, will support Kora’s ambition to provide the infrastructure that allows local African businesses to go global and global companies to go local in Africa.
Founded in 2018 by Dickson Nsofor and Bryan Uyanwune to help Africans in the diaspora make remittances into the continent, the Techstars-backed company has evolved into a payment infrastructure, allowing both local and global businesses to process payment in and out of Africa. It has since then onboarded top local and international brands like GiG, Juice Africa, dLocal, and PayFuture, and is currently available to businesses across 25 African countries, it said.
Kora raised a pre-seed of $120,000 in 2019 and an undisclosed seed afterwards. Earlier this year it received its commercial PSSP licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria and is in the process of acquiring the same licence in Kenya and South Africa to further empower it to drive its pan-African ambition, Orovwiroro said.