Wala, a Cape Town-based financial services provider seeking to reduce barriers to financial access in Africa and elsewhere, recently sold an equity stake to South Africa’s Newtown Partners and raised USD 1.2 million from the public through an initial coin offering (ICO) of its Dala token. The size and price of the Newtown stake have not been disclosed.
Wala also recently partnered with M-vendr in Uganda, allowing Wala users there to access point-of-sale systems at 2,000 merchants, through which they may upload and withdraw money as well as make cash-free purchases.
Wala serves 1 million customers in 100 countries via a smartphone application and Dala tokens, which are managed through a blockchain, a record-keeping system that can be used to record financial transactions on multiple computers so that the security of the data is not dependent on any single machine. Features of the Wala app include opening accounts, depositing savings, sending cross-border remittances, applying for loans, sending loan repayments and paying other bills.
Tricia Martinez, the CEO and co-founder of Wala, said, “Through the use of blockchain technology and tokenization, we have developed a platform that makes it possible to serve the financially excluded economically at scale. Our community’s guidance has ensured that the Wala Financial Platform has been built by the people for the people.”
The US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International) is also offering its customers access to its services via the Wala app. Founded in 1984, FINCA-affiliated microfinance institutions serve approximately 1.9 million people in 20 countries as of 2017.
M-vendr, which operates in 20 countries, describes itself as a “pre-paid product distribution and cash payment collection App-as-a-Service provider.” The firm was established in 2014 and has offices in South Africa and the UK.
Founded in 2014, Newtown Partners is a venture capital firm based in Cape Town, South Africa, that specializes in financial technology and blockchain services. As of 2017, the firm had a portfolio of 12 companies.
By Aleks Marceau, Research Associate
Sources and additional information:
Wala press release on its ICO:
Newtown Partners home page:
FINCA International home page:
FINCA on its partnership with Wala:
M-vendr home page:
Wala on M-vendr and FINCA:
MicroCapital on blockchain and Everex:
MicroCapital on FINCA and digital financial services:
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