Fara Ashiru and David Peterside, Okra’s CEO/CTO and COO respectively.
Less than a year after bursting onto Nigeria’s fintech scene with a surprising $1m pre-seed raise, Okra has closed another funding round. This time, it’s $3.5m in seed money from institutional and angel investors, including founding engineers at US startup Robinhood.
The Nigerian fintech startup helps individuals and businesses gain access to financial data using an API.
Businesses can use Okra to get customers real-time and historical account balance, carry out Know Your Customer checks, obtain customer transaction history of up to 24 months, and set up links for direct debits.
Okra has a feature for customers too; for connecting personal bank accounts to other fintech apps. The startup says it is connected to all banks in Nigeria and promises “a 99.9% guaranteed uptime.”
These startups are driving the conversation around open banking, heralding a financial services ecosystem where banks open up their trove of customer data and accelerate innovation.
Okra lists Access Bank, Interswitch, uLesson, Carbon, and Autochek as companies who currently use the Okra API.
Since launching in January 2020, the number of requests made to Okra’s API has grown month-on-month by an average of 281%, according to the company. That growth comes on the back of over 20 million transactions and over 5.5 million transaction lines analysed in March 2021 alone.
Building on this traction, the startup hopes its new injection of funding will help expand its offering across Nigeria. Ashiru, the CEO, says the startup’s quest is to help businesses with digital transformation tools and that they are “in a strong position to continue to build and scale in the African and global API space.”
The seed funding round was led by Susa Ventures, a venture capital firm based in California which invests in seed-stage startups (their portfolio includes Andela and Robinhood, the investment app).
The round also marks a first ever investment in an African startup by Accenture, the global consulting firm. TLCom Capital, the only firm to invest in Okra’s $1m round last year, also participated in this seed round as did a trio of angel investors: Rob Solomon (chairman at GoFundMe), Arpan Shah and Hongxia Zhong (both former founding engineers at Robinhood).
Omobola Johnson, Senior Partner at TLcom Capital, praised Ashiru for her “technical depth and expertise” and believes the combination with Peterside puts the startup in a good position to build “Africa’s most stable and robust API infrastructure.”
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