Microsoft partners with Flutterwave to power payment innovation in Africa

A business owner is talking with two other people while holding a piece of fabric and a man makes notes in a book.

12 October 2023 – Microsoft has announced a five-year strategic technology partnership with Flutterwave. Through the new collaboration, Flutterwave will build its next generation platform on Microsoft Azure, with the goal of fast-tracking payment innovation in Africa and, in so doing, accelerating the growth of small businesses across the continent.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to Africa’s progress and development. Current estimates are that around 90 percent of the continent’s population is employed within SMEs. Beyond employment, these businesses are often at the forefront of innovation, providing solutions to Africa’s most pressing societal challenges.

Though small businesses and startups are the bedrock of the African economy, they are required to navigate enormous obstacles simply to succeed. Research from the African Union Development Agency tells us that around five out of seven SMEs in Africa will fail in their first year. Similarly, the average startup failure rate in Africa sits at around 54 percent.

A key challenge for both SMEs and startups is a lack of access to financial services and the inability to transact seamlessly across local payment methods. While around 90 percent of transactions in Africa are still cash-based, as many as half of small businesses are without access to credit.

“To drive sustainable growth in Nigeria, small businesses need the ability to participate more actively in the local and even global marketplace. This begins with digital financial inclusion. If we want to build a more resilient country and ultimately a more prosperous continent, we must begin by giving these businesses the digital financial services they need, not just to survive, but to thrive,” says Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria.

Flutterwave’s mission has been exactly that – helping businesses overcome challenges surrounding access to financial services and connecting them to the global stage. It does this by enabling multiple payment modes, including local and international cards, mobile wallets and bank transfers.

In fact, since inception, Flutterwave has made important inroads around the democratisation of payments in Africa. Now by collaborating with Microsoft, the payments technology company aims to fuel growth and further revolutionise payments for businesses across Africa.

Transitioning away from its legacy infrastructure and onto Azure will allow Flutterwave to process high volume payments at scale, ensuring a seamless and secure payment experience for its clients. Through Azure OpenAI Service, it also has the opportunity to scale its product offering to millions of merchants worldwide.

Commenting on the partnership, Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola, Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, said: “In our journey at Flutterwave, we’ve always strived to touch lives by simplifying payments and connecting dreams to opportunities. Today, as we join hands with Microsoft, it feels like a family reunion of visionaries and go-getters. The excitement in our team is palpable because this partnership isn’t just about transactions – it’s about transformation. We’re honoured that Microsoft believes in our vision and trusts our capability. I am proud to say we’re not just dreaming of an inclusive digital Africa; we’re creating it.”

As part of the collaboration, Flutterwave will also launch transactable solutions on Azure Marketplace, including its SMB finance-as-a-service offering, further extending its reach.

“Microsoft is committed to fast-tracking economic growth in Africa through the transformative power of technology – a key part of this involves making it possible for SMEs to acquire the digital financial tools and services they need to succeed,” says Lillian Barnard, President of Microsoft Africa. “We believe greater access to technology and innovation holds the key to building thriving local businesses that will create stronger economies to enable a brighter future for all.”

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