Flutterwave to open Rwanda, Kenya offices despite payment license acquisition challenges

Adeniyi Odukoya
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Flutterwave, Africa’s most valuable startup, has disclosed its intention to establish an office in Nairobi, Kenya, as it seeks to expand services in East Africa. The payments giant has had its fair share of trouble with the Kenyan government and has yet to receive a license to operate fully in the country.

Flutterwave’s chief regulatory and government relations officer, Oluwabankole Falade, revealed this during last week’s third American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Business Summit held in Nairobi.

The attendance recorded the participation of more than 500 East African and American delegates.

East African delegates, a senior US government delegation, US investors convened by the US Department of Commerce, the US Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center, and East African businesses and officials, sets to chart new paths for enhanced US commercial engagement with Kenya and the East Africa Region.

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“We recognize the invaluable role Kenya plays in the East African region and the country’s business-friendly environment and digital capability,” said Mr Falade. “As a business with African roots and headquartered in San Francisco, we are aware of the importance of empowering the small business owners, an objective shared by the Kenyan administration.”

Flutterwave’s previous troubles in Kenya

After several allegations, including claims that Flutterwave was a key participant in a money laundering scheme in Kenya, several of its bank accounts in the country were frozen by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

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The state froze roughly USD 52 million of Flutterwave’s funds. The Kenyan government withdrew the financial impropriety case against the Nigerian fintech company earlier this year.

Techweez reports that Gbenga Agboola, Flutterwave CEO, visited the country recently to resolve the frozen funds issue. However, the firm has not acquired payment services from the Central Bank of Kenya. Opening a regional office in Nairobi could help the company establish a firmer grasp in the nation.

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Flutterwave’s operation in other African countries

As part of its scaling scheme in Africa, Flutterwave is fully licensed to operate in Rwanda and Egypt after obtaining an electronic money issuer license that enables the company to acquire all types of payment instruments.

The licenses in Rwanda allow Flutterwave users to access additional services like money deposits and withdrawals, electronic transfers, and outbound and inbound remittance services for over 13 million Rwandans.

Agboola Olugbenga
Olugbenga Agboola, CEO, Flutterwave

Flutterwave’s CEO, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, said Rwanda is crucial to their expansion plans in East Africa. He stressed the company’s commitment to connecting Africa through payments and providing tools for MSMEs to boost the economy and support businesses’ expansion.

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From our first transaction to over 400 million now, we’ve remained committed to our vision of connecting all parts of Africa through payments and connecting Africa to the world. As a country well known for fostering innovation and promoting the use of digital technology, Rwanda has always been important to our expansion plans in East Africa,” he said

Commenting on the news, Leah Uwihoreye, Flutterwave’s East Africa Regional Lead, Regulatory and Government Affairs, said,

“The licenses will enable us to provide safe, secure, and seamless payment services for individuals and businesses in Rwanda. This is definitely a starting point for Flutterwave as we continue to expand across East Africa.”

Two months ago, Flutterwave expanded into Egypt, announcing that it had received its Payment Services Provider and Payments Facilitator licenses there. As reported, the licenses will ensure that the platform becomes one of Egypt’s few payment service providers with local and global settlement capabilities.

Commenting on the news, Aalaa Gamal, Regional Manager, North Africa in Expansion & Partnerships, Egypt, said,

“We’re excited to receive the payment services provider and facilitator licenses in Egypt. The licenses will enable us to be the go-to payment processor and digital transformation partner for global settlements in Egypt, which enables our customers to expand quickly within or outside of the country. This, for us, is the beginning of other strategic wins in the North Africa and Middle East regions.”

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