Senegalese PayDunya wants to be PayPal for Africa

Young West Africa startup is providing API system that aggregates all African mobile wallets to send and receive payments in one single gateway

Africa has mobile money technology that covers 80% of the unbanked. However, the fact these solutions are country-specific poses a problem. Now, one startup has come up with a technology that will make it possible for Africans to send and receive mobile money to and from different carriers across West Africa. 

PayDunya, from French-speaking Senegal, has developed a universal solution that plugs into all mobile money services to facilitate payments to and from Africa. This API also accepts all major credit and debit cards.

“PayDunya is a payment service provider that allows e-merchants and e-businessmen everywhere in the world to accept payments from their African customers from mobile money wallet, fund transfer services, debit and credit cards,” Aziz Yerima, the startup’s CEO tells IDG Connect.

The idea came about in 2013 when Yerima was a member of Enactus, an international non-profit that works with university students to provide them with knowledge to positively impact their communities. Through this Yerima was part of a team which worked on a project with a women’s association that wanted to provide local products and a network distribution.

“We decided to create them a website. [But] we encountered two problems: firstly, it was hard to pay for the domain name of this website because we did not have a bank card and secondly, the website couldn’t accept web payments because PayPal would not allow African businesses to use their gateway,” Yerima says.

Launched in November 2015, the startup has four main tech products. “One of our products we call API, allows payments from all of our mobile money wallet partners in West Africa and credit/debit cards. It is available for websites and mobile applications. This is a check-out button after one has made purchases on a platform,” Yerima tells us.

“Our API is available for websites built in PHP, Java, Android, WordPress, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, Ruby, Python, .NET, WHMCS and Node JS.  All customers can pay or receive payment without having a PayDunya account. All you have to do is have money in your mobile wallet or be near a cashpoint where you can send money,” Yerima adds.

Its second product “click and pay” or CnP allows individuals to send and receive payments on social media networks or make private sales without having their own websites. When using this product, the system will allow people to generate a web link that will serve as a presentation of the product or service and a payment page. They can then send or share this link through social media, email or even as a mobile text. Additionally, users can send invoices or payment requests using the startup’s built-in invoicing service called “Payment Demand” or simply DmP.

“Our DmP Payment request allows our clients to bill for their services or products. You can send an invoice to your customers and they receive notifications. This service also offers the possibility to pay in installments, while PayDunya PAL [Payment on delivery], is our e-commerce solution that allows customers to make web payments or on our ‘Click and Pay’ sales and confirm payment on delivery,” Yerima tells us.

The startup has also developed technology which is available in WordPress as a free plugin for mobile and e-commerce. Yet Yerima singles out “Aggregation of the means of Payment” as the single most unique offering. This allows developers to avoid integrating several payment gateways, accountants to avoid multiple account managers, and business managers to avoid multiple contract managers. With only one account, everyone in the world will accept or send payments to all West and Central African countries (as per now).”

With just a year of operation, 15 websites are already using this service with 50 more in the pipeline, and the CEO is confident that the startup will be the PayPal of Africa. Additionally, more than 100 merchants are using the click and pay solution to sell on social networks with more than 5,000 customers. But what mobile operators does PayDunya work with?

“We work with Orange Money, the mobile wallet of the first mobile operator in Senegal. There are millions of people with Orange Money. Joni Joni is this carrier’s system of mobile money transfer. There are more than 12,000 points of exchange in Senegal for this. [We also work with] Vitfé the mobile application of Joni Joni with over 110,000 Downloads in addition to bank cards VISA, MASTERCARD and GIM UEMOA used in all UEMOA zones,” says Yerima.

PayDunya has been self-funded to date and has already been nominated for FINTECH Africa Awards. It also recently pitched and participated in the local Seedster’s World Event with eight other startups this October.

“It was a good experience to pitch among other amazing startups and [was] our first English pitch. We have learned from this,” says Yerima. Other challenges have included forming partnerships with mobile money operators (MNOs), banks and other financial institutions as these still have “traditional rigid management styles”.

“It is [also] very hard to have business angel (financing) in French-speaking countries so actually, we are in discussion with French business angels [investors],” he adds.

However, the company’s main aim is to build local partnerships and establish the PayDunya brand in all African countries. “We are currently concentrating in the city of Dakar but in 2017, we are spreading our wings further in the region to cover Ivory Coast, Mali and Cameroon, eventually to all other West and Central Africa, and in the long-term, cover the entire continent.”


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