Kuda, Nigeria’s first digital-only bank with a standalone license, has raised $1.6 million in pre-seed funding led by Haresh Aswani, as reported on Wednesday (Sept. 11).
Ragnar Meitern and other angel investors also participated in the funding round. Aswani told the news outlet that he will also be on Kuda’s board.
Unlike other FinTech startups, Kuda was granted a banking license from the Nigerian Central Bank.
“Kuda is the first digital-only bank in Nigeria with a standalone license. We’re not a mobile wallet or simply a mobile app piggybacking on an existing bank,” noted Kuda Co-founder Babs Ogundeyi.
Ogundeyi, who previously held a financial advisory role with the Nigerian government, co-founded Kuda in 2018 with Musty Mustapha, a former Stanbic Bank software developer.
“We have built our own full-stack banking software from scratch. We can also take deposits and connect directly to the switch,” Ogundeyi added, referring to Nigeria’s Central Switch, which speeds settlements and information.
In the coming months, Kuda will add savings and P2P payments along with the no-fee checking accounts and debit cards it offers now.
“You can open a bank account within five minutes, do all the KYC in the app, and you get issued a new bank account number,” Ogundeyi said.
Now in beta mode, Kuda will use the funds for new tech and a live launch by fourth-quarter 2019.
“It’s Nigeria for right now, but the plan is to build a Pan-African digital-only bank,” Ogundeyi said.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with 190 million people, and is also Africa’s largest economy. Tech innovation is on the move in the country, with increased attention from Big Tech companies like Google and digital startups like Chipper Cash, a no-fee, cross-border payment company that launched there earlier this month.
Google recently announced a new addition to Google Maps in Nigeria that will speak in a local voice. New features were also introduced specifically for the region in an attempt to attract more Africans to the service.