Nigerian startup, Payhippo in a move to expand its product offering has acquired Maritime Microfinance Bank (MFB), in a deal subject to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) approval.
Payhippo, a AI-driven digital lender in a statement said the latest acquisition will enable it to directly access Nigeria’s Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS).
Founded in 2014, Maritime MFB is a financial institution that lends funds to micro businesses and SMEs to enable have a stable financial standing in their ventures. The acquisition of the bank by Payhippo is expected to help the Micro Finance Bank expand into new sectors.
The acquisition will also help Payhippo merchants to accept deposits, and also send and receive money across various commercial banks in Nigeria, while enabling it launch an array of products and services for its teeming customers. The Lagos-based startup is also expected to grow its team with the infusion of professionals from the Maritime team, in the process adding in-depth experience from the banking and finance sector.
Launched in 2019 by Chioma Okotcha, Uche Nnadi, and Zach Bijesse, Payhippo with the mandate of providing Nigerian small business credit access and since its inception has received $4.1 million in Venture Capital funding. Payhippo has since then disbursed over 25,000 loans to small and medium enterprises in Nigeria, even as it annually earns over $4 million in revenue.
“At Payhippo, our mission is to provide seamless financial services for merchants throughout Africa. We are making this investment to enhance products and services for our customers and in turn enable us to reach a wider customer base. We are very excited to work with Maritime Microfinance Bank to revolutionise the SME financial service through digital innovation,” says Payhippo CEO and Co-founder, Zach Bijesse.
The Chairman of Maritime MFB, Adetola Atekoja while speaking on the deal 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 customisedfinancial products for SMEs in the country. The team is incredibly talented, resilient and exudes excellent leadership. I am very excited to welcome them onboard and look forward to supporting them in achieving their goals”.
As the two firms await the CBN approval green light to finalisethe deal, Maritime is expected to adopt the Payhippo’s corporate brand, with Payhippo also extending its digital services to existing Maritime customers.
This is not the first time digital lenders will be acquiring physical MFBs. It would be recalled that Kenyan digital lender, Branch acquired Century Microfinance Bank May last year, a move that made it possible for the startup to receive deposits, while enhancing lending for individual use and SME customers.