African Fintech Firm OPay Raises USD 120 Million from Chinese Investors
COVID-19 and China
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OPay, a Nigerian digital wallet platform backed by Opera Group (OPRA: Nasdaq) – a global leading Internet company – announced a USD 120 million Series B round of funding on November 18, 2019.

Alongside Meituan, GaoRong Capital (高榕资本), Source Code Capital (源码资本), SoftBank Ventures Asia, Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), Redpoint China (红点创投), IDG Capital, Sequoia Capital China, GSR Ventures (金沙江创投) and Meituan-backed investment fund DragonBall Capital (龙珠资本).

According to Frode Jacobsen, CFO of web browser developer Opera, the financing will be used to scale in Nigeria and expand OPay's payments product to Kenya, Ghana and South Africa.

The e-wallet platform completed its previous round of funding less than 6 months before, during which USD 50 million was raised.

Launched as a spinoff in 2018 by Opera, the Nigeria-based OPay is now more than a payment company – its digital platform covers payment, transportation, food and grocery delivery and other services related to local lifestyle.

Focusing on reaching the massive unbanked population of Nigeria with an agent-centric logic, the platform is currently the largest digital wallet provider in the country. The number of active agents on its platform has tripled to exceed 140,000 since its Series A financing, and the daily transaction volumes also doubled to over USD 10 million per day.

The business of OPay more or less lies in the same category as Meituan-Dianping – who took part in both of its two rounds of funding.

After it's market capitalization surpassed (JD: Nasdaq) and Baidu (BIDU: Nasdaq) successively in May 2019, the supper-app company now ranks as the third-largest internet company in China. Apart from its rapid domestic expansion across different cities and coverage of many categories, the Chinese supper-app has been actively deploying its ambitious overseas strategy.

On New Year’s Eve in 2018, Wang Xing (王兴), CEO of Meituan-Dianping, re-emphasized the determination to promote a globalization strategy in an internal mail, describing 2018 as the first year of the company's global exploration. “For overseas markets, we will continuously stay focused and actively participate in the long-run,” said Mr.Wang.

China's top internet players tend to have their own style in overseas investment activities. Tencent (0700.HK) prefers to invest in the leading firms in a given market regardless of the field; Alibaba (BABA: NYSE), on the other hand, tends to pour money into areas that are somehow associated with their own business – for example, e-commerce, payment, logistics, food delivery services, etc. – and relies on PayTM to carry out whole-industry-chain layout; Meituan-Dianping, however, values investment opportunities related to future megatrends in emerging economies, and cuts into local markets by betting in its most familiar sectors.

The lifestyle service giant now covers companies operating food-delivery services, mobility platforms and delivery robots, all in its overseas investment portfolio. Apart from OPay, its major overseas investment cases include Swiggy – the Indian ‘Meituan’ –  and Gojek, Indonesia’s largest on-demand multi-service platform.

*Contributor: Ivan Platonov | Editor: Luke Sheehan
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