Matthew Flannery, CEO and Co-Founder of Branch

African app-based lender, Branch International, has announced a new partnership and investment from Visa. The new investment aims to expand financial access across the African continent, India and Latin America. Following the partnership, both of the companies will offer virtual prepaid debit card numbers to customers with an effort to reach the unbanked customers.

“We started Branch in Kenya, where M-Pesa gives anyone with a phone — including the unbanked — access to digital credit. Unfortunately, mobile money isn’t available in most countries. With the help of Visa, now we can send cash to any ATM and reach the underserved around the planet,” says Matthew Flannery, CEO and co-founder of Branch.

Branch International has recently closed a Series C financing round valuing to $170 million and led by Foundation Capital and Visa. The round was joined by some of the existing investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Trinity Ventures, Formation 8, the IFC, CreditEase, and Victory Park as well as new investors, Greenspring, Foxhaven, and B Capital.

“At Visa, we believe financial empowerment is an essential passport out of poverty,” said Bill Sheedy, Executive Vice President of Strategy at Visa. “Our partnership with Branch provides Visa with a key distribution mechanism to reach people that were previously out of reach and help shape the future of microfinance.”

Branch has been aiming to tap the rising mobile technology and expand financial access in order to reach the unbanked population.

Established in 2015, Branch International provides mobile-based lending services. The company aims to reduce the barriers to delivering financial services in emerging markets. It has offices in San Francisco, Lagos, Mexico City, Mumbai and Nairobi.

by Megha Bhattacharya
Market Analyst at IBS Intelligence
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