Koree, a fintech that allows customers in cash-based economies to save spare cash on a card, wins $50,000 at the Ecobank Fintech Challenge, edging out almost 1,500 fintechs.
Koree, a Cameroonian fintech, has emerged winner of the Ecobank Fintech, ahead of eight finalists and 1,490 pitches. Koree went home with $50,000 in non-dilutive funding while Wolf Technologies, a DRC fintech, took second place and $10,000, and Flexpay, a Kenyan fintech, won $5,000 in third place.
Magalie Gauze, the founder of Koree, told TechCabal that her company will use the funds to hire for business development and engineering roles. She added that Koree will also get an office in Douala, Cameroon. “Our team members are located in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria, and Senegal since we started fully remote but having a proper office will help us bond and create a stronger culture,” she said.
Koree’s product aims to solve the spare change problem in cash-based economies by using a card and digital wallet to allow merchants to return their customers’ spare change. Merchants can also create loyalty programs where customers can earn cashback rewards. In the past year, Koree has registered over 11,000 users and processed over 40,000 cash-based transactions worth $285,000. The fintech has also created 22,000 private wallets in that time frame and makes money by charging its clients a commission on each transaction and a subscription fee for merchants.
The eight finalists were Flexpay Technologies (Kenya), IPOXcap AI (South Africa), Kastelo (South Africa), Koree (Cameroon), Kori Tech (Senegal), SmartTeller Technologies (Nigeria), Rubyx (Belgium), and Wolf Technologies (DRC). Oluwole Ogunwande, the CEO of SmartTeller, told TechCabal that although he had gone to many competitions, the challenge was the most difficult.
Ecobank, one of Africa’s largest banks with a presence in 35 African countries, has been organising its fintech challenge for six years and Koree is the first francophone and woman-led fintech to win the competition. The eight finalists will be inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship with other alumni like Piggyvest, Touch and Pay, Moni, and Nala.
Micheal Oluwole, the co-founder of Touch and Pay, last year’s winner, shared in a fireside chat at the event that his company has leveraged the sandbox to expand into Ghana and the prize money was used to conduct experiments to help his company’s growth. He added that since last year’s win, his company has doubled its users to two million and is now the largest processor of contactless payments in Nigeria.
The challenge’s alumni network has since gone on to raise $90 million in collective funding since participating in the challenge and 10 of the challenge’s alumni have also integrated into Ecobank’s pan-African sandbox, which gives them access to test their products in 35 African countries. According to Dr Tomisi Fashina, Ecobank’s group executive for operations and technology, the bank’s investment in the challenge has helped develop the bank’s fintech unit which saw a 28% increase in digital payments.
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