South Africa’s Crypto-Friendly Payment Platform, Ozow, Raises $48 Million Led by China’s Tencent

Ozow’s latest funding round, a Series B, raised eyebrows due to the kind of participants that it attracted. The round, totaling $48 million, saw investors including China’s technology powerhouse, Tencent, and Reid Hoffman’s, Endeavor Catalyst.

  • Tencent
  • Endeavor Catalyst
  • Endeavor Harvest Fund

Founded in 2014 to drive financial inclusion through open banking, Ozow allows consumers to access their internet banking platform when they make transactions online.

According to the founder, Thomas Pays, the company’s service automates the manual electronic funds’ transfer (EFT) processes consumers use to pay across e-commerce, point-of-sale, e-billing, or P2P methods.

The platform is both B2B and B2C working with clients that include corporates like MTN, VodaCom, Shoprite Group, TakeAlot, Uber as well as individual merchants.

The merchants need to have a bank account and a “smart-enabled device” to receive payments from more than 47 million bank account holders, which the platform caters to.


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Steps of Use

Here are three steps of use for the Ozow platform:

  • Through the platform, consumers select Ozow as a payment option when shopping online or in-store.
  • Next, they choose their bank (from all ten major South African banks), log in with their online banking details
  • Payment process is automated by Ozow

According to this analysis, EFTs represented about 4% of the volume of sales in e-commerce stores in South Africa before Ozow came into the picture. Now that volume has grown to an average of about 30%, and EFTs have become South Africa’s second most popular payment option (after cards) for e-commerce. 

It is reported that from the new funds, Ozow hopes to drive fintech regulation to ensure that more people access payment services.

A portion of the funds will also be directed at mergers and acquisitions and pan-African expansion to 4 countries in the next 6months.

These markets include:

  • Namibia
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya

The team is also planning to expand from 100 to 250, including hiring employees in its new European office.


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