Nigeria’s Paystack acquired for $200M+ by Stripe as it aims to grow presence in africa
When Stripe announced earlier this year that it had picked up another $600 million in funding, it said one big reason for the funding was to expand its API-based payments services into more geographies. Today the company is coming good on that plan in the form of some M&A.
Stripe is acquiring Paystack, a startup out of Lagos, Nigeria that, like Stripe, provides a quick way to integrate payments services into an online or offline transaction by way of an API. (We and others have referred to it in the past as “the Stripe of Africa.”)
Paystack currently has around 60,000 customers, including small businesses, larger corporates, fintechs, educational institutions, and online betting companies, and the plan will be for it to continue operating independently, the companies said.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed but sources close to it confirm that it’s over $200 million. That makes this the biggest startup acquisition to date to come out of Nigeria, as well as Stripe’s biggest acquisition to date anywhere. (Sendwave, acquired by WorldRemit in a $500 million deal in August, is based out of Kenya.)
It’s also a notable shift in Stripe’s strategy as it continues to mature: typically, it has only acquired smaller companies to expand its technology stack, rather than its global footprint.
The deal underscores two interesting points about Stripe, now valued at $36 billion and regularly tipped as an IPO candidate (note: it has never commented on those plans up to now). First is how it is doubling down on geographic expansion: even before this news, it had added 17 more countries to its platform in the last 18 months, along with progressive feature expansion. And second is how Stripe is putting a bet on the emerging markets of Africa specifically in the future of its own growth.
Paystack had been on Stripe’s radar for some time prior to acquiring it. Like its US counterpart, the Nigerian startup went through Y Combinator — that was in 2016, and it was actually the first-ever startup out of Nigeria to get into the world-famous incubator. Then, in 2018, Stripe led an $8 million funding round for Paystack, with others participating including Visa and Tencent. (And for the record, Akinlade said that Visa and Tencent had not also approached it for acquisition. Both have been regular investors in startups on the continent.)
In the last several years, Stripe has made a number of investments into startups building technology or businesses in areas where Stripe has yet to move. This year, those investments have included backing an investment in universal checkout service Fast and backing the Philippines-based payment platform PayMongo.
Collison said that while acquiring Paystack after investing in it was a big move for the company, people also shouldn’t read too much into it in terms of Stripe’s bigger acquisition policy.
Stripe, with its business firmly in the world of digital transactions, already has a strong line in the detection and prevention of fraud and other financial crimes. It has developed an extensive platform of fraud protection tools, but even with that incidents can slip through the cracks. Just last month, Stripe was ordered to pay $120,000 in a case in Massachusetts after failing to protect users in a $15 million cryptocurrency scam.