Sudo Africa, a fintech that provides a card issuance API for developers and businesses in Nigeria, has raised $3.7m in pre-seed funding.
San Francisco-based Global Founders Capital (GFC) led the round. Participating VCs include Picus Capital, LoftyInc Capital, Rallycap Ventures, Kepple Africa, Berrywood Capital, ZedCrest and Suya Ventures.
Several African fintech founders such as Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola, Ham Serunjogi and Odun Eweniyi are also investors in the company.
Like many API-driven fintechs, the card issuance API (innovated by Rapyd, Ayden, and even Stripe globally) is more and more attract the attention of investors who think it’s the next big thing in a sector that has attracted the most venture capital dollars in Africa.
Aminu Bakori and Kabir Shittu, founders of Sudo Africa, told TechCrunch that the opportunity to create Sudo was due to a problem they faced when trying to issue cards in their previous startup: a mobile wallet system allowed to users of aggregate existing financial institutions into a single platform and conduct transactions.
“At one point we wanted to issue cards and worked with one of the local banks in Nigeria,” CEO Bakori said. “They had to print up to 1,000 cards, but it took a long time and none of them worked because the bank was unable to provide us with APIs to manage the cards or even control the use of these cards. It was the first time that we had come, thinking about how to issue cards.
The fintech landscape, as described by Bakori, is one where, while startups create siled interfaces that allow their customers to send or receive funds from each other, problems still arise when global financial systems come into play. Game.
For example, a mobile wallet or a local card in Nigeria trying to make a purchase on Amazon is always a terrible experience. But with the introduction of virtual dollar cards in a few digital banks and fintech platforms, this has become less of an issue.. Card-issuing API fintechs such as Kaduna-based Sudo Africa are behind the technology.
Its pitch to customers is that while banks take weeks or months to issue cards, Sudo Africa takes days. In partnership with licensed card issuers, the company’s infrastructure allows itself and any developer or merchant that comes to its platform to issue virtual and physical cards to their customers. And wheren the platform allows companies to control and program the cards to their likingcreate their functionalities and safely integrate with other services.
Here is a granular explanation. Suppose a company uses Sudo Africa to issue cards for managing employee expenses; what happens is that the employees are given cards with a low balance, so whenever they need to use the card, an API is called each time to decide whether to approve or deny this transaction in real time.
Another example is that of a delivery company that sends its courier with a programmable card to complete a transaction and spend a certain amount of money in a particular mall. The sudo API works in such a way that if the passenger decides to use the card in another mall for some reason or spends more than the budget, the card will not work.
“It’s beyond fair create a prepaid card, fund that card and then allow the customer to spend wherever they want,” Bakori said..
“So all those controls that we have implemented on the card, like spending controls where you can set how much can be spentwhere he can be spent, and when, put the business first and say, “hey, that’s all the transaction details and spend controls, but do you still want to go ahead and approve this transaction?” This opens up a stream of opportunities for fintechs and businesses using our platform.
The founders say these features – localized spending and controls – differentiate Sudo Africa from YC-backed Union54 and unicorn Flutterwave, a new entrant in the card-issuing API space. Neverthelessit seems like the trio are nearly identical, considering the features each company claims to have on their sites.
Sudo clients expand a number of sectors, Shittu, COO of the company, told TechCrunch. These include fintechs, microfinance banks, non-tech companies, government agencies, logistics companies, commercial banks and e-commerce companies, he said.
The company charges interchange fees when its cards are issued are used to complete a web or POS transaction and charges authorization fees when spending and location-based checks are made. Sudo collects cheaper card production and personalization fees than cardholders, Shittu claims.
Sudo Africa is currently the only player in this space that offers its virtual and physical card service uniquely in Nigeria. Although based in Zambia, Union54 has clients all over Africa. Flutterwave says it helps merchants in its 35 African markets issue virtual cards while only those in Nigeria are privileged to get physical cards for now.
So, he should that Sudo Africa, which is setting an example for other fintechs and startups trying to make a name for themselves outside of Lagos, will want to expand to other African markets with this investment, not necessarily out of competition, but rather out of necessity. “Our current concern is to expand into other African countries. So we look before the end of this year, we will Probably be in three or four other African countries,” the COO said.