Start ups

Mama Money prevails as growth surges in tough climate

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Mama Money co-founders Mathieu Coquillon and Raphael Grojnowski.
Mama Money co-founders Mathieu Coquillon and Raphael Grojnowski.

Despite the tough economic conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, local fintech start-upMama Money says it saw growth in international money transfers of over 500% in volumes during this period.

This, says the firm, is up from the 300% growth recorded in 2019.

Founded in 2013, Mama Money started with money transfers from SA to Zimbabwe in 2015. Since then, the payment platform has used technology to become an inexpensive money transfer operator to more than 50 countries, providing services to Africa, Asia and Europe.

It now counts more than a million users who pay fees of up to 3% for international money transfers, and says it has had to expand its team to keep up with the explosive growth.

“We’re incredibly grateful that 2020 was our best year yet. It’s terrible to see how tough the pandemic has been for so many people and businesses,” says co-founder Mathieu Coquillon. “We’re humbled and very lucky to have added over 70 permanent team members during this time.

“Lockdown restrictions spurred the adoption of digital money transfer services. While there is a large informal network for money transfers that operates predominantly in cash, services like Mama Money make it easier for people to transfer money from the safety of their homes, which became particularly appealing during lockdown.”

Where the business employed just 30 staff two years ago, it now has close to 200 permanent staff and over 2 500 field agents operating across SA.

In addition, it has partnered with other payment providers and money transfer operators, which allow customers to send money to Western Union, MTN Money, Airtel Money, and others, while still keeping costs low.

Coquillon explains: “We saw that people were paying ridiculous fees of up to 20% or more for sending money to their families for essential needs like school fees and medical bills. Many were handing cash to a driver to physically transport it across the border to their mama. It was a slow and unsafe process and sometimes the money would never arrive.

“There was a clear need for a safe, low-cost and reliable way to send money across borders using mobile technology that makes sending money as easy as sending a WhatsApp message. It’s now possible with Mama Money’s mobile app.”

Bentolina Nnadi, Mama Money head of talent, adds: “A challenge is hiring the best talent to keep up with our growth. We focused on fostering an inclusive company culture, though we still have a lot more opportunities for top talent to join us, with many vacant roles that still need to be filled.”

The Mama Money app can be downloaded from Google Play or the App Store.

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