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October 22, 2021
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Africa-focused fintech startup “Opay” raise $120 million

Africa-focused fintech startup “Opay” has raised a $120 million Series B round backed by Chinese investors.

Located in Lagos and founded by consumer internet company Opera,OPay will use the funds to scale in Nigeria and expand its payments product to Kenya, Ghana and South Africa  Opera’s CFO Frode Jacobsen confirmed to TechCrunch.

Series B investors included Meituan-Dianping,  GaoRong, Source Code Capital, Softbank Ventures Asia, BAI, Redpoint, IDG Capital, Sequoia China and GSR Ventures.

OPay’s $120 million round comes after the startup raised $50 million in June. It also follows Visa’s $200 million investment in Nigerian Fintech company inter-switch and a 49 million raise by Lagos based payment start-up ” palm-play” which is less by China’s Transsion.  

There are a couple of quick takeaways. Nigeria has become the epicenter for fintech VC and expansion in Africa. And Chinese investors have made an unmistakable pivot to African tech.

Opera’s activity on the continent represents both trends. The Norway-based, Chinese-owned (majority) company founded OPay in 2018 on the popularity of its internet search engine.

Opera’s web-browser has ranked number 2 in usage in Africa,  After Chrome, the last four years.

The company has built a hefty suite of internet-based commercial products in Nigeria around OPay’s financial utility. These include motorcycle ride-hail app ORide, OFood delivery service and Oleads SME marketing and advertising vertical.

“OPay will facilitate the people in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and other African countries with the best fintech ecosystem. We see ourselves as a key contributor to…helping local businesses…thrive from…digital business models,” Opera CEO and OPay Chairman Yahui Zhou, said in a statement.

Opera CFO Frode Jacobsen shed additional light on how OPay will deploy the $120 million across Opera’s Africa network. OPay looks to capture volume around bill payments and airtime purchases, but not necessarily as priority.  “That’s not something you do every day. We want to focus our services on things that have high-frequency usage,” said Jacobsen.

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