AZA Finance (formerly known as BitPesa) has agreed to acquire cross-border payments specialist Exchange4Free, marking the latest in a wave of consolidation spurred by disruption to the global digital payments system and making AZA Finance the largest fintech provider of treasury and FX services to frontier markets.
Acquiring Exchange4Free, the largest South African non-bank currency broker, will enable AZA Finance to more than double transaction volume to $2.5 billion in 2021 through synergies and leveraging cross-selling opportunities, while extending the company’s reach to 115 countries spanning Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and North America. This is the second acquisition by the company having acquired Spanish based TransferZero, an international money transfer platform in 2018.
As the response to COVID-19 drives increased volumes of business transactions online and away from physical bank branch infrastructure, Africa – where SMEs have faced the most expensive and time-consuming processes – is leading the challenge against established dollar-based systems through the use of APIs and other network technologies.
Amid the sector’s expansion is a race to consolidate, as seen in deals such as Santander’s acquisition of a majority stake in Ebury last year, and expansion into traditional business banking territory by the likes of Monzo, Revolut and TransferWise.
“This acquisition moves us further towards our goal of opening up intra-African and frontier market FX flows,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and founder of AZA Finance. “Exchange4Free’s ethos and innovative solution is a great fit for AZA Finance in helping to build the digital infrastructure of the future that brings innovation and efficiency to meet corporate treasury and FX needs in frontier markets.”
Authorised by the FCA for the UK and Bank of Spain for Europe, AZA Finance provides an A to Z full suite of corporate treasury and FX products from the start to the “last-mile” for enterprises operating in frontier markets. With offices in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Spain, the UK and the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), AZA Finance’s partnership network includes money transfer operators (MTOs) like Western Union, World Remit, Azimo and IDT (Boss Revolution).
The acquisition enables AZA Finance to leverage Exchange4Free’s own platform for their services, including its set of APIs that provide companies with the FX, treasury, and regulatory compliance services they need to make cross-border payments into South Africa from more than 100 countries.
“Exchange4Free has built technology to streamline FX and cross-border payment flows across a truly global transaction network,” said Mark Lawson, co-Founder and CEO at Exchange4Free. “The acquisition by AZA Finance will enable us to reach the scale we need to optimise this technology to deliver highly customisable solutions for our clients.”
The acquisition follows a combined Series B debt and equity funding round in which AZA Finance raised $35 million for expansion of operations in the Middle East and North Africa over the past 18 months, including a $15 million debt facility with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to build its activities in the region.
Africa Money and DeFi Summit
The Africa Money & DeFi Summit will connect Africa fintech leaders, global platforms and thought leaders on the new opportunities in Decentralized Finance (DeFi) at the fourth Africa Tech Summit in Nairobi. An array of keynotes, panels and breakout sessions will deliver key insights and offer opportunities to connect, network and do business across the African fintech and DeFi landscapes