Sequoia Heritage, Stripe, Founder’s Fund, and Ribbit Capital led a $200 million Serie A round of funding into Wave – a U.S and Senegalese mobile money payment provider. Other players who took part in the round are Partech Africa and Sam Altman (A former Y Combinator CEO).
This is the largest Serie A investment round in the francophone region by far creating a valuation of $1.7 billion. Mobile money across Sub-Saharan Africa has grown exponentially over the past year up to $500 billion has moved past 300 million active mobile money users in the region. Despite mobile money offering a solid mobile money infrastructure alternative, this is a fraction of the overall global market.
Wave is a spinoff of Sendwave, an Africa-focussed remittance provider. Founded in 2014, YC became a subsidiary of WorldRemit in 2020 in a $500 million cash and stock-linked transaction. In 2018 a pilot in the form of Wave was launched in Senegal, and Durbin and the team focussed their efforts there ever since.
Wave will be competing with Safaricom’s M-Pesa and telecom operators such as Tigo or Orange. However, it believes its mobile money service will be “radically affordable.” The startup is similar to PayPal while running an agent network that uses cash on hand to service users of Wave. The technology will also differ from telecom-driven mobile money as it runs exclusively on an app. This is one of the largest Serie A rounds this year worldwide. Wave joins Opay and Flutterwave as the third unicorn from Africa this year.