Last year, fintech API infrastructure players entered the African tech scene, ushering in Plaid-like services to businesses and developers.
And the attention to these companies, especially from venture capitalists, has intensified this year, with every major player raising a big seed for Series A rounds.
OnePipe, a fintech API company with a different game from the lot, joins the list today, raising $ 3.5 million upfront to double its in-app financing offering.
African VC Focused on Impact Atlantica Ventures, a co-lead investor in OnePipe’s $ 950,000 pre-seed round last year, also co-led the round alongside Capital of the tribe and V&R Associates.
New investors Canaan Partners, Saison Capital, Norrsken (the fund of Klarna founder Niklas Adalberth), The Fund and Two Culture Cap also participated. Existing investors Chris Adelsbach, Techstars, Ingressive Capital, Acquity, P1, Raba and DFS Lab followed with new checks, alongside a few angel investors.
There are generally three main sets of fintech API infrastructure. One is the aggregation of data and financial accounts (Plaid, Okra, Mono, Stitch and Pngme are a few players in the space).
The second focuses on integrated finance and banking as a service, where Treasury Prime, Marqeta exercise their profession. The third is the basic open banking system developed by TrueLayer.
OnePipe’s original game plan was to create an API gateway that connected banks and fintechs according to a uniform standard, a move that would allow the company to perform basic open banking.
But founder and CEO Ope Adeoye (describes himself as the company’s chief plumber), on a call with TechCrunch, said that after continued integration with these financial institutions, it became clear that the company needed to pivot as it did not generate a lot of demand cycles.
And after having forged partnerships with a few banks, OnePipe decided to take a step back and dive into the world of on-board finance..
Unlike open banking and data aggregation where a business has to collaborate with almost every bank in the country where it operates, this is not necessarily this is the case for companies offering integrated financing. This is why OnePipe currently has six partner banks.
“The caveat goes like this, when you do a positioning game for the bank as a service, all of you really need is a partner bank that allows you to go in depth because the integrated finance [offering] is a matter of depth, not breadth, ”said the CEO.
“If you opt for data aggregation or open banking in general, you are opting for breadth, not depth. So on our side, we said that we prefer to go for tier two and tier three groups, where once you describe the concept to them, they get it.. It fuels their growth and is more valuable to them, unlike other large financial institutions. “
By running the API infrastructure on behalf of these partner banks and helping them monetize it, OnePipe works with non-financial institutions to launch and sell a range of financial services such as credit, accounts and payments within their offers.
“We took a round last year to focus on a use case of the partnership, which was to bring the APIs of a fixed set of banks together and offer integrated banking or banking as a service set. ”Said Adeoye. “That is, we enable non-financial institutions, or businesses in general, to offer banking services to their customers.”
So an FMCG startup, for example, can connect to the API of a bank run by OnePipe and start issuing accounts to customers, allowing them to make payments to those accounts and access credit when they need it.
In the 10 months that OnePipe switched to this model, it processed more than 6.3 million transactions worth over $ 46.3 million, the company said.. These numbers come from over a million individual accounts and over 138 businesses, ranging from FMCG and retail to loans and agriculture.
OnePipe takes a percentage of transactions made on these accounts and shares with its partner banks. For loans offered through its APIs, OnePipe takes at least 1% of the loan interest from its lending partners and also shares it with partner companies and banks.
With what OnePipe has accomplished so far, Aniko Szigetvari, founding partner of Atlantica Ventures, believes the company is deepening financial inclusion not only in Nigeria but on the continent.
“In our view, integrated finance is the next tool for traditional and financial services companies to increase customer loyalty and revenue by offering a wide range of third-party financial products and revenue streams for their customers,” did he declare.
Although OnePipe is currently only present in Nigeria, it is taking its first step beyond the country’s coast to align with Szigetvari’s statement.
OnePipe is following a strategic partnership path as Adeoye mentioned that his company has entered into an agreement with the African logistics and freight company Sendy to expand into other African countries. According to the company’s statement, the plan is to “pull a Stripe-Shopify-esque tag team.”
“We made sure that before looking at other African countries, we were already going with a client on the ground,” said the CEO.. “We made a deal with Sendy that got them into this round, and then we will deploy the capital for the expansion. As they go to Egypt, South Africa, we go deploy with them and grow together.