Interswitch to restart investments in African startups, says GMD
In July last year, Interswitch was reportedly planning an IPO via a dual listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange.
Group Managing Director and Founder of Interswitch, Mitchell Elegbe, told TechCrunch on Wednesday that the payment processing company was planning to restart its corporate venturing – the practice of using corporate funds to directly invest in external startups – after a four-year hiatus.
Elegbe made the disclosure during his session at the ongoing Disrupt 2020 conference organised by TechCrunch, an American media company that provides news and analysis on technology, startups and venture capital. Interswitch – which achieved a unicorn status in 2019 following a $200 million equity investment by Visa – had launched a $10 million venture arm in 2015.
In 2016, the fintech firm acquired Value Added Network Solutions Limited (Vanso), also a fintech provider. Interswitch had said the acquisition was part of its Africa expansion strategy. But the venture arm of Interswitch became inactive after the Vanso deal.
Speaking to TechCrunch on Interswitch’s plan to resume startup acquisitions, Elegbe said, “We’ve just certified a team and the plan is to begin to make those kinds of investments again. This time around we want to make financial investments and also leverage the network that Interswitch has and put that at the disposal of these companies.”
Launched in 2002, Interswitch is at the forefront of creating innovative ways to pay and transact using digital technologies such as Quickteller and Verve, a pan-African chip card accepted in over 185 countries across the globe. Vanso provides highly secure messaging, payments and banking solutions to a range of telecommunications and financial services clients in Nigeria, and a number of African markets. Interswitch also has operations in Kenya and Uganda.
In July last year, Interswitch was reportedly planning an initial public offering (IPO) via a dual listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The date for the IPO, which was expected to take place before the end of the year, has not been announced. It has been speculated that the Covid-19 pandemic may have delayed Interswitch’s IPO plans yet again in 2020.
Asked by TechCrunch if the company still planned to list publicly, Elegbe offered no definite response. Instead, he said, “At this point in time we’re focused on growing the business and creating value for our customers and that is our primary focus.”
With a successful dual listing of Interswitch, the fintech company would become the second VC-backed African tech company to be listed on a major bourse, after Jumia's listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019.
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