Global financial transactions are facilitated mainly by payment processors such as Visa or Mastercard. They are responsible for communication between banks and fintechs to settle transactions for consumers and businesses swiftly.
Africa has it different. It’s not a predominantly card continent. Telecoms and banks lead the majority of online financial transactions carried out in the region via mobile money wallets and bank accounts. But here’s the challenge: While both systems tend to work well when users make transactions within their unique environment, there’s no interoperability for transactions between them.
An alternative payment network with connected wallets allowing a mobile money user to transact with a bank account would fix this problem, and that’s the premise of Ghana-based fintech Dash. Today, the unified payments app is announcing that it has raised $32.8 million in an oversubscribed seed round.
Founder and CEO Prince Boakye Boampong started the company in 2019. Before Dash, Boampong was the co-founder of OMG Digital, a YC-backed Ghanaian media startup he started alongside Jesse Ghansah — the current CEO of Float— in 2016.
Two years before that, Boampong traveled to Kenya and was fascinated by how unbanked Kenyans sent and received money while paying bills with mobile money, a system of payments pioneered by Safaricom’s M-Pesa, which has close to 30 million customers. But having come from a mobile money background himself, being Ghanaian, Boampong experienced how interoperability posed a challenge within and outside mobile money systems.
“I was blown away by the ubiquity and convenience of mobile money in 2014 when I visited Kenya for the first time. However, there are over 200 mobile money wallets and 100 banks across the continent that [do] not work with each other,” the chief executive officer told TechCrunch.
Here’s what that means: A Kenyan who uses M-Pesa and travels to Ghana finds it difficult to send money to a Ghanaian who uses MTN Ghana because both mobile money operators don’t permit transactions between each other.