Zone raises $8.5m Seed Funding to Scale Decentralised Payment Infrastructure

Zone, Africa's rapidly expanding payment infrastructure firm, recently announced that it secured $8.5 million in a seed funding round that exceeded expectations.

This round was spearheaded by VC firms Flourish Ventures and TLcom Capital. This development signifies a crucial juncture for Zone as it forges ahead with its mission to create a Blockchain-based decentralised payment framework for financial services providers within the continent and beyond. Utilising Blockchain technology, Zone's network offers dependable, seamless, and universally interoperable payment solutions at scale to financial service providers and their clientele. Distinctively, Zone stands as Africa's inaugural regulated Blockchain network for payments, having onboarded over 15 of the continent's premier banks and fintech firms.

The newly acquired funds will facilitate Zone's expansion of its network coverage within its domestic market and enhance connections with more banks and financial services entities. A substantial portion of the capital is earmarked for executing an extensive pilot programme aimed at evaluating the company's cross-border functionalities, planned for 2025. Zone prioritises readiness for broadening its presence across Africa, intending to bolster Intra-African and global payments, thereby advancing its ambition to emerge as a leading global payment network.

Flourish Ventures, a global fintech venture firm with a mission, is set to furnish Zone with a global outlook, access to networks of industry influencers, and profound expertise in African fintech, thus facilitating its entry into new markets. TLcom Capital, headquartered in the UK, offers vital local legitimacy and insights into the African tech landscape, capitalising on its strong ties with pivotal stakeholders in Nigeria to lay a solid groundwork for Zone within its primary market.

Other contributors to this funding round include international blockchain-focused VC firms such as Digital Currency Group (DCG), VKAV (Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures), and Alter Global, each contributing specialised sector knowledge and credibility. These investments, secured during a period marked by a scarcity of start-up financing, underscore investor confidence in Zone's vision to interconnect every monetary value store and create a regulated and decentralised global payment framework.

Moreover, support and investment from Endeavor Catalyst underscore Zone's position as a leader in Africa's fintech innovation wave, aligning with the entrepreneurial ethos that propels technological advancement and economic development.

Commenting on the funding round, Obi Emetarom, CEO and co-founder of Zone, said: "The participation of high-quality investors despite the funding drought and the fact that we had more interested investors than we needed, is a sign of trust in the Zone brand and investor excitement about the opportunity to redefine payment infrastructure in Africa. As we step into this new phase at Zone, we are re-energized and our commitment to transforming Africa's payment infrastructure is renewed. Our new investors and existing shareholders including CCA, Lateral Capital, Constant Ventures and V8 bring more than just financial backing as their global scope and deep expertise make them invaluable partners for us. With their support, we are poised to accelerate our mission to connect every monetary store of value and enable real-time payments within and across geographical borders. Zone is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancement and industry evolution in financial services."

Ameya Upadhyay, Partner at Flourish Ventures, said: "For the first time in Africa, Zone's technology enables direct communication between participants in the payment ecosystem. We believe this is a fundamental leap that will allow customers to experience a completely new standard of reliability, speed and cost efficiency at the ATM, at POS machines and online. We are excited by the potential for Zone's technology to be replicated across borders to advance payment innovation globally. The fact that Zone is led by Obi and Wale who are veterans of the banking industry reinforces our conviction that Zone can fulfil our shared goal of moving the entire sector forward."

Ido Sum, Partner at TLcom Capital, said: "We are thrilled to partner with Obi Emetarom and Wale Onawunmi, co-founders of Zone, on their journey to build a category-defining fintech company that is using advanced blockchain technology to solve a critical payments system challenge. The Company's innovative infrastructure has the potential to deliver tremendous value to financial institutions, enhancing the overall payments experience for end-users and driving down costs for hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses that rely on digital payments in Africa every day. We have no doubt that Zone, led by Obi and Wale, is on its way to transform into a global company over time, and TLcom is excited to bring its complementary experience, networks and expertise to support the Company in fulfilling its impressive scale ambitions."