Emerging victorious from nearly 1,500 competitors, Cameroonian fintech Koree clinched the top prize at the Ecobank Fintech Challenge. The company secured $50,000 in non-dilutive funding, outperforming eight finalists. Wolf Technologies from the Democratic Republic of Congo came in second with $10,000, while Kenya’s Flexpay rounded out the top three with $5,000.
Koree’s founder, Magalie Gauze, shared with TechCabal that the newly acquired funds will be allocated for recruiting talent in business development and engineering. Gauze also revealed plans for setting up a physical office in Douala, Cameroon. “We started as a fully remote team with members spread across Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria, and Senegal. Having a centralized office will enhance our team’s cohesion and fortify our company culture,” she elaborated.
Koree offers a card and digital wallet solution to address spare change in cash-dominated economies. This system enables merchants to return customer change digitally and even implement loyalty programs that offer cashback rewards. Over the last year, Koree has garnered more than 11,000 users and facilitated over 40,000 cash transactions amounting to $285,000. The company has also set up 22,000 private wallets in the same period. Koree generates revenue by levying a transaction fee on clients and a subscription charge on merchants.
The finalist lineup for the Ecobank Fintech Challenge consisted of Flexpay Technologies from Kenya, IPOXcap AI and Kastelo, both from South Africa, Koree from Cameroon, Kori Tech from Senegal, SmartTeller Technologies from Nigeria, Rubyx from Belgium, and Wolf Technologies from DRC. Oluwole Ogunwande, the CEO of SmartTeller Technologies, commented to TechCabal that this challenge was the most rigorous of all the contests he’s participated in.
Ecobank, a major African banking institution operating in 35 countries across the continent, has hosted its fintech challenge for the past six years. Koree broke new ground by being the first fintech from a Francophone country, led by a woman to claim the top spot. All eight finalists will join the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, an alumni network that includes past winners like Piggyvest, Touch and Pay, Moni, and Nala.
Micheal Oluwole, co-founder of Touch and Pay and last year’s winner, revealed during a fireside chat that his company used the prize money for growth-oriented experiments and expanded into Ghana using the fellowship’s sandbox. Since their victory, the company has doubled its user base to two million and has become Nigeria’s largest processor of contactless payments.
Dr. Tomisi Fashina, Ecobank’s Group Executive for Operations and Technology, stated that the alumni from the challenge have collectively secured $90 million in funding post-participation. Additionally, 10 alumni have been integrated into Ecobank’s pan-African sandbox, allowing them to test their products across 35 African nations. The bank’s involvement in the challenge has significantly contributed to a 28% rise in digital payments.