A London FinTech has raised £1.7 million ‘to build the world’s first non-biased payments platform’.
Zazuu, founded in 2018 by four African-born entrepreneurs, has a mission to provide Africans in the diaspora with smart ways to move money.
For African immigrants, life in the diaspora is fraught with inequalities, as systems are designed with biases against them. They say otherwise routine activities – such as growing your credit rating or sending money home – become Herculean tasks for immigrants who have to overcome institutional biases.
According to the most recent report from the World Bank, for example, the global cost of moving money across borders averages around 6.09% of the value of the transaction. That figure can sometimes get as high as 22% for money sent to African countries.
While infrastructural challenges are often cited as a leading cause of the high costs of remittances, according to the World Bank, lack of transparency among remittance providers is actually the leading challenge.
The four founders, Kay Akinwunmi (CEO), Korede Fanilola (COO), Tola Alade (CDO), and Tosin Ekolie (CTO) have diverse professional backgrounds ranging from technology, to design to banking and finance.
“In 2018, I sent about $3,000 back home to Nigeria. I thought I got the best deal on that transaction until about two weeks later when someone informed me I could have saved up to $30 in fees on that transaction if I had used a different provider. I was livid,” said Fanilola.
“We all have experiences like this where we only discovered in hindsight that we had lost more than we should on transactions back home simply by choosing the right provider.”
Akinwunmi added: “The mission has always been simple for us from day one. Africans have consistently gotten the shorter end of the stick with remittance transactions.
“We discovered that the primary reason for that was a lack of transparency on the part of the providers. We’re solving that problem by building a smarter way to transfer money.
“With Zazuu, users can search multiple money transfer providers in their region, compare the rates and fees, and then choose who to send money with, at no extra cost.”
Over the two years of operation, Zazuu has evolved from a simple chatbot informing users of the daily rates in Facebook and Telegram groups, to an FCA-licensed organisation in the UK with users in eight countries across North America and Europe. Nearly a hundred thousand users have used the current iteration of its ‘search and compare’ service to find the best rates for their corridors.
The fundraising round saw participation from Launch Africa, Founders Factory Africa, Hoaq Club, Tinie Tempah, Jason Njoku, CEO IrokoTV, Babs Ogundeyi, CEO Kuda Bank, and other angel investors.
Fanilola said: “The plan for us is growth. We want to scale our solution as quickly as possible. We’re working on getting licences that allow us to offer our service to users in other European countries before the end of the year.
“We’ll also be concurrently improving the product with new features that ensure that everyone sending money to Africa gets the best money transfer experience.”