Zone raises $8.5 million in funding to expand its decentralized payments infrastructure

Zone, Africa’s fast-growing payment infrastructure company, has announced that it has raised $8.5 million in an oversubscribed seed funding round led by reputable VC firms Flourish Ventures and TLcom Capital.

The deal marks a pivotal moment for Zone as the company continues on its journey to build a Blockchain-based decentralized payment infrastructure for financial services providers across the continent and beyond.  By harnessing the power of blockchain, Zone’s blockchain network delivers reliable, frictionless and universally interoperable payment experiences at scale to financial service providers and their customers. Zone has a unique position as Africa’s first regulated blockchain network for payments and has already signed up over 15 of Africa’s largest banks and fintech companies.

The new funding will enable Zone to further expand the coverage of its network domestically and connect more banks and financial services companies. A significant portion of the proceeds will also be allocated to conducting a comprehensive pilot programme to test the Company’s cross-border capabilities, scheduled for 2025. A key priority of the Company is to ensure that it is well-prepared to extend its footprint across Africa in order to support Intra-African and international payments which will bring the company closer to its vision of becoming a global payment network.

Flourish Ventures, an early-stage global fintech venture firm with purpose will provide Zone with a global perspective, networks of industry influencers and extensive Africa fintech expertise, paving the way for expansion into new markets. UK-based TLcom Capital provides essential local credibility and understanding of the African tech space while leveraging its existing relationships with key decision-makers In Nigeria to establish a strong foundation for Zone within its home market.

Other investors in this round include international blockchain-focused VC firms Digital Currency Group (DCG), VKAV (Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures) and Alter Global, each bringing niche sector expertise and credibility.  These investments at a time when start-up funding has dried out are a testament to investor confidence in Zone’s mission to connect every monetary store of value and establish a regulated and decentralized global payment infrastructure.

Additionally, the endorsement and investment from Endeavor Catalyst reinforces Zone’s status as a frontrunner in Africa’s fintech revolution, highlighting the company’s alignment with the entrepreneurial spirit that drives technological transformation and economic progress.

Commenting on the funding round, Obi Emetarom, CEO and co-founder of Zone, said:The participation of high-quality investors despite the funding drought and the fact that we had more interested investors than we needed, is a sign of trust in the Zone brand and investor excitement about the opportunity to redefine payment infrastructure in Africa. As we step into this new phase at Zone, we are re-energized and our commitment to transforming Africa’s payment infrastructure is renewed. Our new investors and existing shareholders including CCA, Lateral Capital, Constant Ventures and V8 bring more than just financial backing as their global scope and deep expertise make them invaluable partners for us. With their support, we are poised to accelerate our mission to connect every monetary store of value and enable real-time payments within and across geographical borders. Zone is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancement and industry evolution in financial services.”

Ameya Upadhyay, Partner at Flourish Ventures, said: “For the first time in Africa, Zone’s technology enables direct communication between participants in the payment ecosystem. We believe this is a fundamental leap that will allow customers to experience a completely new standard of reliability, speed and cost efficiency at the ATM, at POS machines and online.  We are excited by the potential for Zone’s technology to be replicated across borders to advance payment innovation globally. The fact that Zone is led by Obi and Wale who are veterans of the banking industry reinforces our conviction that Zone can fulfil our shared goal of moving the entire sector forward”.

Ido Sum, Partner at TLcom Capital, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Obi Emetarom and Wale Onawunmi, co-founders of Zone, on their journey to build a category-defining fintech company that is using advanced blockchain technology to solve a critical payments system challenge. The Company’s innovative infrastructure has the potential to deliver tremendous value to financial institutions, enhancing the overall payments experience for end-users and driving down costs for hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses that rely on digital payments in Africa every day. We have no doubt that Zone, led by Obi and Wale, is on its way to transform into a global company over time, and TLcom is excited to bring its complementary experience, networks and expertise to support the Company in fulfilling its impressive scale ambitions”.

Zone is a regulated blockchain network that enables payments and acceptance of digital currencies. Its Layer-1 Blockchain network digitises Fiat payments and enables the transition to digital currencies while connecting previously excluded financial institutions into an all-inclusive payment ecosystem. Zone:Africa’s first decentralised payment network, allows participating institutions to connect directly with each other and perform payment transactions without an intermediary while completely automating settlement, reconciliation, and dispute management. The Company is working with the brightest minds on the continent to lay the foundation for the decentralised future of financial services. Its mission is to connect every monetary store of value by harnessing the power of blockchain.

Flourish invests in mission-driven entrepreneurs and industry influencers working toward a fair financial system. With $850M in patient capital under management, the early-stage venture capital firm’s global portfolio includes leading fintechs such as Chime, Fair Money, Flutterwave, GrabFinancial, Heru, Hummingbird, Kin Insurance, M2P, Neon, and ShopUp, among other high-growth companies. Flourish brings together networks of policy innovators, trailblazers and industry experts to influence and create systemic change.

Founded in 1999 and with offices in Lagos, Nairobi and London, TLcom has $350 million of VC assets under management across Africa and Europe and in January 2022 announced the first close of its $150 million TIDE Africa Fund II, dedicated to technology and innovation for Africa. The TLcom portfolio includes Andela (Nigeria), Fairmoney (Nigeria), uLesson (Nigeria), Pula (Kenya), Shara (Kenya) and Autochek (Nigeria), Illa (Egypt) and Littlefish (South Africa) among others. The firm has completed successful Africa VC exits with Upstream acquired by Actis and Movirtu acquired by BlackBerry. TLcom’s fund delivers capital as part of its wider strategic, operational and financial support strategy to entrepreneurs.


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