Last February, Djamo announced that he had been accepted into Y Combinator, his first from the Ivory Coast. Months later, the two-year-old fintech raised $14 million in funding from the popular accelerator, as well as three leading investors — Enza Capital, Oikocredit and Partech Africa — and other participating investors, including Janngo Capital, P1 Ventures, Axian and LaunchAfrica.
As with most fintechs across Africa, Djamo, launched by Régis Bamba and Hassan Bourgi last year, provides financial services for the population with and without banks. Its focus is on French-speaking markets where less than 25% of adults have bank accounts. One reason this is so is that banks focus on wealthy customers and those they deem profitable for the business. But as banks slowed down, the region’s mobile telecom money filled the gap, and in the last 10 years their wallets reached over 60% of the population, proof of how many millions of native French speakers were hungry for financial services.
Today, this infrastructure and mobile money reach allows startups like Djamo to build on their existing payments infrastructure to democratize financial access across the banking and mobile money spheres. Djamo’s app enables interoperability between banks and mobile money, meaning its customers in Côte d’Ivoire can send money from their bank accounts to mobile money wallets and vice versa; has leveraged this feature to build a comprehensive suite of financial services.
Djamo’s first product is a Visa-based debit card that allows users to make online purchases on sites such as Amazon, Alibaba or Netflix. Other products include virtual accounts for peer-to-peer transactions, a payroll product, and an automatic savings product that provides guidance on clients’ financial goals. Kuda, Telda, PiggyVest, TymeBank and Koa are a few examples of comparable products across Africa.
“Before Djamo, it was a real challenge for an average customer to receive paychecks digitally because they weren’t integrated into the banking system,” CEO Bourgi told TechCrunch about a call. “We have found the right partner to launch that product and any company can pay salaries to employees with a Djamo account. When you look at Djamo, along with other products, we want customers to be able to better manage their money and help them plan for their future. We don’t necessarily need to digitize cash like mobile wallets. We are here to work on the personal finance side.
Customers see so much value in the diverse use cases Djamo has assembled so far that fintech still relies on word of mouth to expand across the Ivory Coast, according to Bamba, the company’s chief product officer. The platform currently has over 500,000 customers on file, a more than 5x increase from the 90,000 customers Djamo had entered in February 2021.
“In our region, users pay some of the highest rates in the world, but they don’t always get the right service in return, which can be extremely frustrating. The only thing we want to achieve is to offer a product where customers get real value for their money,” said the CPO. “The app has grown organically like crazy and getting such numbers in a market like this in a short period is proof that we are nailing the overall user experience and creating something very relevant for users”.
While they didn’t provide an update on the 50,000 monthly transactions they logged during their February interview, the founders say the fintech platform has processed more than $400 million since inception. Djamo is also seeing 20% to 25% month-on-month revenue growth, spurred by a change to its pricing plan that includes a free option and two premium options with different services: $2/month and $3.5/month. month. They say these options are 80% cheaper than other bank accounts offered by financial institutions – including microfinance banks that Djamo sees as direct competition due to their adoption of digital channels to provide financial services – in Côte d’Ivoire .
Bourgi said 60% of Djamo customers have never used a Visa debit card before joining the platform. It’s a feat the CEO is proud of and one he sees as crucial in Djamo’s quest to make financial services accessible to the masses, including those outside Côte d’Ivoire. The $14 million in funding capital, which it claims is the largest equity round ever for a startup in Côte d’Ivoire, will help the startup advance into two other French-speaking African countries by the end of next year and to expand the product offering to include investment and lending.
Tidjane Deme, general partner of Partech Africa, speaking about the investment, said: “French-speaking Africa offers a large integrated market, with [a] rapidly growing demand for seamless services from a new cohort of digital-native young adults. We are excited to join forces with top tier local investors bringing sector and regional expertise to enable Djamo to seize this opportunity.”