Nigerian startup CrowdForce, a Y Combinator-backed agency banking platform, has raised a US$3.6 million pre-Series A funding round to increase its PayForce agent network three-fold this year to deepen its financial service offerings to underserved Nigerian communities.
Initially established by Oluwatomi Ayorinde and Damilola Ayorinde in 2015 as Mobile Forms, a data analytics platform that provided insights on hard-to-reach rural and semi-peri urban populations, CrowdForce came about after a 2018 pivot and rebrand.
The startup has developed a financial services distribution platform that can turn any merchant into a mobile bank branch within minutes. The platform uses data analytics to build financial service products that truly tackle financial inclusion. Its PayForce product is a PoS-enabled system providing ATM services, transfer, and bill payments.
The US$3.6 million pre-Series A round, which is split between equity and debt, was led by Aruwa Capital Management with participation from HAVAÍC and AAIC. CrowdForce will use the capital to expand its team, geographical operations and marketing to increase its agent network. CrowdForce aims to grow its 7,000 active agents three-fold this year.
It also plans to distribute more point of sale terminals to small businesses – gas stations, pharmacies, and aggregators/resellers – which act as mobile bank branches. CrowdForce has been cash positive since 2020 and served 1.9 million unique customers in 25 Nigerian states to date.
“Fintechs and challenger banks are emerging in Africa to deliver better financial services via digital rails. It’s a fantastic development in the market, but cash is clearly still king in Nigeria. Ninety-seven per cent of retail transactions happen offline. There is a clear need to build an offline distribution network to enable fintechs and challengers to reach the mass market – this is exactly what we’re doing at CrowdForce, and this round will accelerate our momentum even more,” said Oluwatomi Ayorinde, CrowdForce’s CEO and co-founder.
“We are excited to lead this investment in CrowdForce. We see significant value in the product as it is solving a real problem by providing access to critical financial services in rural areas that have been overlooked by traditional financial institutions. CrowdForce is actively deepening financial inclusion through its products and services, and has unique competitive advantages through its proprietary technology and extensive agent distribution network across the country,” said Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Aruwa Capital founder and managing partner.