Chipper Cash, an African cross-border payments company, has raised $150 million in a Series C extension round led by Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX.
The investment comes barely six months after Chipper Cash closed its first Series C round of $100 million, led by SVB Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of SVB Financial Group.
SVB Capital reinvested in this extension round and other existing investors such as Deciens Capital, Ribbit Capital, Bezos Expeditions, One Way Ventures and Tribe Capital.
While new investors also participated, they remain unnamed at the moment. The company’s total Series C stands at $250 million but its total funding to date is over $305 million.
During TechCrunch’s last conversation with CEO Ham Serunjogi, when the company announced its Series C round, he called Chipper Cash “the most valuable private startup in Africa” without specifics on the actual value.
The statement was left open for interpretation and several debates have sparked since then on whether Chipper Cash is a unicorn or not. Well, Serunjogi can confirm that Chipper Cash is indeed one now, as this extension round takes its valuation slightly above $2 billion.
Serunjogi founded Chipper Cash with Maijid Moujaled in 2018 to offer a no-fee peer-to-peer cross-border payment service in Africa via its app. Its services are used across seven African countries — Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya.
This year, the company began to make strides outside the continent. In May, it expanded to the U.K., allowing people to send money from the European nation to Chipper Cash’s African markets.
Last month, Chipper Cash, with over four million users, ventured into the already competitive U.S. to Africa corridor with established players such as Wise, MoneyGram, Sendwave and Remitly; the U.S. is responsible for almost 30% of the international remittances to sub-Saharan Africa.
Though the margins for remittances are small, the market has grown exponentially for the better part of the past decade, except last year when total remittances stood at $42 billion, down from $48 billion in 2020, per the World Bank.
Considering how expensive it is to send money to sub-Saharan Africa (it is the most expensive region to send money globally), Chipper Cash’s play is to offer the “best prices” and also facilitate money movement from Africa to the U.S.
“Chipper Cash is offering remittances considerably cheaper than anyone else,” Serunjogi told TechCrunch over a call. “More important to that is that we are now the first ones that I know honestly to be able to support Africa to the U.S. in terms of sending money.”
Platforms such as WorldRemit already allow specific African countries like South Africa to send money to the U.S., so Chipper Cash is not entirely the first to try to offer such a service.
With that said, Serunjogi says peer-to-peer money movement from the U.S. to Nigeria and Uganda is currently live for users in those markets. The company will roll out the service to users in Ghana, South Africa and Kenya before the end of the year.
For outflow payment services — sending money from Africa to the U.S. — the CEO says that users in Uganda, South Africa and Kenya will be the first to get access next year.
Chipper Cash has also been busy tapping into the world of social payments. Earlier this year, Twitter launched its Tips feature, also known as Tip Jar, to allow creators to receive money on its platform. The social media company integrated with some payments platforms to make it accessible in different regions.
As creators in developed markets can select PayPal, Patreon, GoFundMe, Cash App and Venmo to receive tips, Chipper Cash was picked to offer the service to African creators through its payments link.
“The idea for Twitter and ourselves is to offer multiple ways for creators to be able to be paid for their work and their contribution online,” said Serunjogi.
“And Twitter worked with us on this given our presence as the largest cross-border payments platform in Africa that could support multiple countries for Africans using Twitter.”
Chipper Cash plans to make its Tip Jar integration accessible for users in the U.S. by next year, said Serunjogi.
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