Nigerian API fintech startup, Okra, has raised a $3.5 seed investment barely one year after its $1 million pre-seed round. Venture capital firm, TLcom Capital — sole funder of the previous round — participated in this round.
US-based Susa Ventures led this seed round, with global consulting firm, Accenture Ventures, investing in an African startup for the first time. Other participating angel investors include Rob Solomon, GoFundMe Chairman; and Arpan Shah and Hongxia Zhong, former founding engineers at Robinhood.
Okra’s API infrastructure has grown since its launch in January 2020. It currently boasts of serving over 100 digital businesses, financial institutions, government agencies, and fintech companies, including Interswitch, Access Bank, uLesson, and Aella App.
The startup will use this round to scale its Open Finance-as-a-service operation.
Although fintech has been the darling of the tech investment space for the last decade, API fintech solutions are opening a new horizon in solving challenges beyond payment, saving, and lending. They are making these services safe for users while leveraging data to customise their clients’ banking services.
According to the pre-seed announcement, the company was planning its African expansion. Interestingly, following this seed round, it is now focused only on Nigeria.
Like Mono and OnePipe, similarly promising API fintech startups, Okra’s business model involves taking commissions off digital businesses that integrate the solution on their platforms for KYC confirmation, payment and transaction authorisation, and identity protection.
As a way of staying ahead of the different regulatory challenges the Nigerian fintech scene is currently facing, David Peterside, Okra COO, told TechCrunch that the startup is actively engaging regulators. However, he mentioned that they make sure that the platform abides by relevant data protection laws.
Given its current traction and growth rate, the startup would need to expand its team to meet demand. Fara Ashiru Jituboh, Okra CEO and CTO, thinks this could be a challenge, but it would be met with massive hiring.