Applicant name: Afriex
Applicant type: Individual
Headquarter City: Richmond
Headquarter Country: United States
Innovation Name: Afriex
Innovation Type: Product
Category: Innovation Remittance Solution
Status of Innovation: In-Market
Innovation Active Since: 02/01/2020
Demonstrate what technology your product has that is different from the market: We allow users to send money from the US to several countries in Africa in seconds. 90% of our transactions are completed in 5 seconds or less. We deploy new features on a weekly basis.
Explain the functionality.
- the user signs up
- the user loads funds to their Afriex wallet using their debit card or direct transfer from their bank via ACH
- the user selects the amount they want to send and the recipient’s currency
- the user then selects where the recipient wants the funds sent: mobile money or their bank account
- the user selects the recipient from their existing contacts or adds new recipient information
- the user click send. And in a few seconds both the recipient and send receive confirmation that the funds have been received.
Explain who followed your example and deployed the same technology and timeframes. We are so focused on serving our own customers so we don’t spend too much focus on what our competition is doing. But our customers use us in cases of emergency, when they need to send funds quickly and reliably. Particularly in last minute situations. A good example is a customer was traveling to an African country and needed a purchase a Visa on arrival. One of our users was able to send a WhatsApp message to their brother in the US. He was able to respond with funds moments later. And our user was able to purchase the Visa with local currency using our Send To Bank flow.
Do you know if this innovation is specific to only one market and which one? This innovation can be applied globally. As the diaspora continues to achieve success, there is a growing need to share some of their financial success with loved ones at their country of origin.
Innovation Description. We partner with trusted banks with the licenses to receive funds from our customers interested in funding their Afriex wallets. We send funds from our FBO accounts to a financial partner with the licenses to send funds overseas. In our receiving countries we have local banks that allow us to pay out to recipients in their local currency. We also work with local payment partners in recipient countries who have relationships with mobile operators and banks. We sometimes send funds to these local payment partners to settle funds to recipients on our behalf. However, this route takes slightly longer that our goal of 2 seconds or less.
What was the inspiration for this innovation? Our CEO, Tope Alabi, was working on another startup while living in the US and wanted to hire engineers in Africa. He went to West Africa and recruited some great talent but every month trying to pay these engineers became cumbersome, slow, and expensive. Since Tope Alabi was engineer himself, he put together a prototype to automate the payment of his engineers. One of the first engineers receiving these payments loved the experience so much that they decided to work on the product full time. They quickly realized the pain of sending money from the US to Africa was something experienced by many.
Who can benefit from your innovation most? People in the diaspora trying to send money to loved ones around the world: ideally from developed nations to developing nations.
Businesses looking to send funds from developed nations to developing nations either to pay for raw materials or pay global employees.
What are you most proud of about your innovation? I am most proud of giving people in developing nations a first class financial products. We also allow users to save money in their USD wallets. This allows people to save money due to severe inflation. In some cases, a person’s paycheck can be worth more than 10% less within a month. This makes it more difficult for people to save. With Afriex, when a user receives funds, they have the option of saving the funds in their USD wallet and cashing out only when they need it.
Why do you think you should win this category? We plan to be a global platform with a hyper focus on Africa. We’re seeing more and more requests for intra Africa transfers which is an exciting opportunity for the entire continent. As more relaxed immigrations policies open up borders between neighboring African nations, this will enhance employment, trade, and inevitably the flow of funds. Afriex will be there to provide the payment rails for this future.
Full Name: Tope Alabi y
Role: Co-Founder CEO
Full Name: Eugene Baah
Role: Head of Product
Forbes article highlighting Series A raise