In a deal subject to approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria, MFS Africa has signed an agreement to acquire Capricorn Digital, one of Nigeria’s largest digital solutions and distribution companies for an undisclosed amount.
As the largest fintech interoperability hub in Africa, MFS Africa connects banks, telcos, and money transfer operators across over 35 countries via a single integration point. Paga, MTN mobile money, Ecobank, and Safaricom are among the operators integrated on the hub, with an estimated 320 million mobile money customers interacting across various digital wallets without transaction fees associated with switching platforms.
Capricorn, under its SME-focused brand, Baxi, operates an ecosystem of digital payment services. Its solution is built to help Nigerians with everyday payment needs; including utility bill payments, airtime purchases, pay-TV and data subscriptions, withdrawals, and money transfers. The company delivers these services through its retail network of agents and merchants in some of the remotest locations across Nigeria, and via its BaxiBox POS, BaxiPay, Baxi MPoS Device, and BaxiRIMS products.
The 100 percent cash acquisition, MFS Africa’s third in five years, sees the pan-African payments giant expand into Africa’s largest economy, where its presence to date has been limited given the country’s small number of mobile wallets. Capricorn will be called MFS Africa but its core product, Baxi, retains its name.
“This deal is a pivotal step in our journey. By combining Baxi’s network of SMEs operating as agents with our pan-African network, we aim to take Nigeria’s SMEs to the rest of Africa and the world. Our expansion into Nigeria brings us one step closer in our mission of making borders matter less,” said Dare Okoudjou, MFS Africa Founder and CEO.
Founded in 2014 by Degbola Abudu and Folu Majekodunmi, Baxi is one of Nigeria’s largest independent SME-focused electronic payment networks. Baxi provides a cash-in/cash-out offering as well as value-added services – account opening, money transfer, bill payment, and more – to the last mile. Through its network of more than 90,000 agents, Baxi has already processed over USD 1 billion in transactions this year.
Following the acquisition’s close, MFS Africa will build Baxi into a key node on its digital payment network, allowing customers to make regional and global payments to and from Nigeria. MFS Africa will also expand Baxi’s proposition for offline SMEs to select markets within MFS Africa’s footprint of 320 million mobile wallets across more than 35 African countries’ markets within its footprints.
Previous restrictions to mobile network operators’ participation in mobile money services have restrained the sector’s growth in Nigeria. To serve the more than 55 per cent of Nigerian consumers currently excluded from formal financial services, Nigerian fintech that have built strong agent networks are the crucial interface to reach Nigeria’s ~31m financially underserved and 67m financially unserved populations. Supporting and nurturing SMEs is crucial to Nigeria’s economy, as they contribute 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and provide 76 per cent of jobs.
With its presence in 36 Nigerian states, Baxi fills a critical gap by providing unbanked Nigerians and informal SMEs access to financial services.
The focus areas of both companies are complementary. Baxi simplifies and integrates online and offline payments for SMEs and merchants in Nigeria through its omni-channel distribution network. MFS Africa simplifies cross-border payments, integrating payments via one hub.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the MFS Africa team to expand our service offering for individuals and SMEs. We believe that we’ve barely scratched the market’s potential. Only 3 per cent of Nigerian SMEs have access to credit products. By teaming up with MFS Africa, and with the strong support of our local commercial banking partners, we can offer more value-added products and services, such as cross-border payments, to support Nigerian SMEs in their growth,” said Degbola Abudu, Baxi CEO.
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