International calling app Talk360, which enables people around the world to make calls to any landline or mobile phone worldwide, has secured $4 million (R64 million) in funding as it prepares to launch a Pan-African payment platform in mid-2022.
The seed round of funding was led by African venture capital investor HAVAÍC, 4Di Capital and several prominent fintech angel investors.
Talk360 was co-founded in 2016 by South African venture builder Dean Hiine, and Dutch entrepreneurs Hans Osnabrugge and Jorne Schamp.
With offices in South Africa, the Netherlands, India and Nigeria, the company says it connected more than two million people in 2021.
In South Africa, where it currently has 50 000 monthly active users, Talk360’s traffic is people making local calls, whether it is landline or mobile, Hiine recently told ITWeb in an interview.
In a statement, Talk360 says while the app is seeing rapid growth on the continent, with a growing number of paying users, accessibility has been an issue for the 500 million underserviced people.
It notes that users either don’t have online banking to buy Talk360 airtime, or their local currencies or payment methods are not supported.
According to the company, the new payment platform aims to address the continued issue of inaccessibility by providing users with the option to buy products and services using any currency and more than 160 payment methods. It will also be opened to other service providers, the company says.
“From the start, our mission was to bridge distance and connect lives by offering reliable, affordable and easy-to-use digital services, delivered in a localised manner to all communities, particularly emerging countries, so they can connect to the world,” says Hiine.
“The Talk360 app is now the number one calling app in Africa, independent of users’ currency or preferred way of payment. Thanks to our over 750 000 physical points-of-sale and ability to support mobile wallets, our reach goes beyond the traditional credit and debit card support that international companies usually use. We now have enough traction to attract internationally renowned investors to expand our footprint and allow other companies to use our unique single checkout payment platform for all of Africa.”
Ian Lessem, managing partner of HAVAÍC, says Talk360’s ability to overcome the challenge of distribution in Africa and organic growth was “nothing short of spectacular”.
“With HAVAÍC’s experience, networks and complementary investments in Africa, we are incredibly excited about the prospects of Talk360. We believe the business will not only continue on a path of exponential customer acquisition, but is well on its way to leverage this growth by offering other complementary technology-enabled products to its growing customer base,” says Lessem.
The angel investors include several unicorn founders and executives such as Gaston Aussems (ex-Mollie), Robert Kraal (ex-Adyen), Gabriel de Montessuss (president WorldPay International) and Marnix van der Ploeg (ex-Booking.com and EQT).
Aussems says Africa is an “interesting growth market”, with a fast-growing middle class.
“Through the calling app, Talk360 has already connected many people and is consistently improving the lives of its customers. With 60% of the population under the age of 25, there is huge potential for mobile digital services,” he says.
“The new payment platform will make it possible for providers to offer their services across the continent and to offer a suitable payment option for every consumer.”
Talk360 also aims to accelerate its mission to create jobs and reduce unemployment in the communities which it serves through its rapidly-growing agent network.
“By creating jobs and micro entrepreneurship opportunities within different communities, we learned how we can help African consumers and businesses connect with their loved ones,” says Osnabrugge.