Nigeria’s fintech firm Interswitch confirms major investment from Visa

Nigerian digital payments firm Interswitch has confirmed reports that the global transactions company, Visa, will invest in the 17-year-old company.

Although the fintech company did not divulge the details of the deal, Sky News had reported that Visa will be investing $200m for a 20 percent stake, pushing Interswitch to the enviable exclusive club of unicorn – a term coined to refer to relatively new fintech firms that have a valuation of $1 billion.

Sky News said the discussion is at an advanced stage with a deal expected to be announced within the month.

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The transaction comes at a time when Interswitch is preparing to list at the London Stock Exchange, a process that will go on despite the investment from Visa.

Headquartered in Nigeria, Interswitch provides electronic payment service across Africa, point-of-sale terminals, online consumer payment platforms and has its own debit/credit card known as Verve with 19 million users.

The fintech firm was founded by Mitchell Elegbe in 2002 with an initial purpose of digitizing Nigeria’s then paper-ledger and cash-based economy.

Now, the firm has a physical presence in Kenya, Uganda and Gambia providing online banking systems in 23 African countries.

Visa and Interswitch see the equity investment as a strategic collaboration between the two companies.

“The partnership will create an instant acceptance network across Africa to benefit consumers and merchants,” reads part of a joint press release.

Visa’s move comes months after competitor, Mastercard, invested $300m in Dubai-based Network International ahead of its stock market debut in London.