Payhippo, a Nigerian digital lender has acquired Maritime, enabling Payhippo to access Nigeria’s Inter-bank Settlement System.
Payhippo, a Nigerian digital lender, has acquired Maritime Microfinance Bank, a bank that offers loans, facilitates investment and accepts deposits and savings. The deal has yet to be approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Payhippo claims that the acquisition will allow the company to access Nigeria’s Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS).
Payhippo: Providing access to credit
Payhippo was founded by Chioma Okotcha, Uche Nnadi, and Zach Bijesse and launched in 2019. The company’s goal is to provide small Nigerian businesses with access to credit. To date, the company claims to have administered over 25,000 loans to Nigerian SMEs. With revenue of over USD 4 million per year, the company has received USD 4.1 million in VC funding since launch.
Founded in 2014, Maritime is a traditional finance institution that offers loans to micro businesses including the self-employed and solo entrepreneurs as well as SMEs in the maritime industries.
According to Payhippo, the deal will allow the company to access the Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), allowing Payhippo’s merchant clients to accept deposits and transfer and receive funds from commercial banks across Nigeria. Payhippo’s acquisition of Maritime will also assist the bank in expanding into new sectors.
A problem of capital
First-time business founders across Africa often face problems raising the funds they require. Traditional lenders are reluctant to provide finance and the founders can find it challenging to raise capital. The process is often mired in financial bureaucracy and features high interest rates and challenging collateral requirements. Digital lenders, which typically offer lower rates and flexible arrangements, are making inroads across the continent as they are typically free from inflexible financing laws.
In an interview with TechCabal, Payhippo CEO and co-founder Zach Bijesse said that the startup had been planning the acquisition since the beginning of the year. Once the Central Bank of Nigeria approves the deal, Maritime will operate under Payhippo’s corporate brand and Payhippo’s digital services will be offered to existing Maritime customers.
In a statement on acquisition, Maritime Microfinance Bank’s Chairman, Adetola Atekoja said, “Nigeria has an ever-growing need for SME lending solutions to help businesses meet their financial needs. We believe Payhippo is well-positioned to develop new and customized financial products for SMEs in the country.”
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