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Carbon Strengthens Digital Banking for Nigerian SMEs With Vella Finance Buyout


Nigerian digital lender Carbon has acquired local fintech startup Vella Finance in a strategic move to expand its financial services targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The deal value was undisclosed.

While Carbon pioneered consumer lending in Nigeria, it is now pivoting focus to equip SMEs with advanced yet accessible products. Vella’s specialized SME infrastructure and AI-powered insights align perfectly with this roadmap.

Founded by Mark Afolabi, Segun Fagbami, Tolu Adedayo and Gabriel Ajenifuja, Vella Finance delivers comprehensive solutions spanning cross-border payments, bookkeeping, invoicing, and business loans. Its data-driven personalized recommendations help companies monitor finances and strategize more effectively.

Carbon co-founder Chijioke Dozie stated the Acquihire demonstrates his company’s drive to revolutionize finance via technology. Vella’s innovation in understanding SME needs through AI made the deal a clear strategic fit.

Vella CEO Mark Afolabi said joining Carbon will empower more businesses during tough economic conditions. Combined capabilities can provide integrated platforms with actionable analytics, affordable credit, and solutions tailored to any business challenge.

As part of the transition, Vella will shift current customers to Carbon Business accounts over the coming weeks while preserving optimal user experiences. Individual users can also seamlessly upgrade to the new business-centric offerings.

This acquisition coincides with Carbon launching a dedicated AI-based platform for SME banking. Co-founder Ngozi Dozie says advanced internal analytics will translate to shared insights across all services, giving clients a “superpower.”

Specifically, the platform’s AI-driven transaction analysis feature provides strategic advice to small businesses. By leveraging artificial intelligence to unpack financial data, it enables growth. Businesses can also access credit at below-average interest rates to ease cash flow constraints.

Additionally, the platform makes accounting straightforward through sub-accounts and preset allocation rules. Collaboration tools enable team-based account management as well. The seamless integration with existing systems also facilitates an easy transition.

This robust new ecosystem spotlights Carbon’s push towards widespread AI adoption beyond lending. Sharing machine learning best practices signifies the next stage in its mission to provide a one-stop digital finance hub for underserved Nigerians.

Acquiring Vella’s domain expertise also plugs key gaps in Carbon’s offerings. As digital banking competition grows locally across consumer and business verticals, the deal empowers both entities for the road ahead.



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