Rare. Magical. Mythical. Few of the words used to describe this startup that has become Nigerian’s biggest fintech company.
Flutterwave provides a payment infrastructure for global merchants and payment service providers across the continent. This company has a mission to build payments infrastructure to connect Africa to the global economy.
Founded in 2016 by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Olugbenga Agboola, and Adeleke Adekoya, its headquarters is in San Francisco, California with operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa , and seven other African countries.
Its current CEO is Olugbenga Agboola, after Iyinoluwa Aboyeji stepped down to focus on family and helping small scale businesses and other startups grow.
Named Africa’s best fintech company at the Apps Africa Innovation award in 2017, only a year after it was founded, this mythical creature will go on to become one of the biggest startups in Africa and among the only startups in Africa with a valuation of over 1 billion with Egyptian payments company Fawry, Nigerian payments company Interswitch and Dubai-based e-commerce giant Jumia all making the list.
Since its inception, Flutterwave has become one of the fastest growing companies in the world, processing close to $9 billion in payments and 140 million transactions across over 33 African countries where it currently operates and serves more than 290,000 businesses including Uber, Flywire, Booking.com and Facebook.
With investment from experienced Fintech investors such as Ycombinator Continuity Fund (investors in Stripe), Greycroft (investors in Braintree and Venmo), Greenvisor Capital, Omidyar Network, and Glynn Capital amongst others, it seems the sky’s just the beginning for this once startup turned Fintech giant.
The Biggest and The Baddest
But this giant is not without its problems. Two months before receiving the highest payment processing license from the Central bank of Nigeria, The Fintech giant was accused of operating without proper licensing in Kenya by the Kenyan central bank. The Governor of The Kenyan Cental Bank, Patrick Njoroge, disclosed on July 28, 2022, after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting, that Flutterwave has not been granted a license for certain operations in the Country. The clarification from the Central Bank of Kenya followed an initial ruling by a Kenyan High Court on July 6, 2022, which froze all assets and accounts of Flutterwave in the country.
According to Wikipedia, Flutterwave, in an official response, disclosed that it submitted applications for licensing to the central bank of Kenya in 2019 but has not been granted one.
Flutterwave has also recently been subject to multiple lawsuits and allegations of denying former employees stock rights as well as having a culture of bullying and harassment.
Flutterwave denied accusations of financial misconduct, including claims of money laundering in Kenya and irregularities related to stock options, and said it has taken action against those found culpable for any form of harassment in the company. It said the IPO plan is subject to market conditions.
According to Abubakar Idris from restofworld.org, The former head of implementation at the company responsible for its expansion into East Africa, Clara Wanjiku Odero, alleged that she had been bullied and harassed by the company’s current CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, that she’d had to fight to get paid after she left the company, and that the company’s “negligence” had led to her being investigated by the Kenyan police.
Talks with 12 former employees of Flutterwave, show that Odero’s allegations are reflective of what they claim are recurring issues at the company.
The former employees alleged that the company encouraged behavior that included harassment and bullying, inappropriate relationships between managers and staff, that the Fintech giant underpaid departing employees for their stock options, and that basic administrative errors were made using company document, which created serious legal problems for the former employees. Some of the allegations were previously reported by local investigative journalist, David Hundeyin, on April 12.
The Fintech giant denied all accusations and said they were investigating each of these allegations and that they are either false or issues that have been addressed before hand.
The Nigerian business space has always been ridiculed with controversies and corruption, but among all these uncertainties, Flutterwave continue to lead Nigeria (and Africa) in the Fintech industry and this growth will push Nigeria and Africa into the forefront of the Global Economy.