Nigeria’s lending startup Payhippo has raised $3 million in a seed round, funding the company plans to use in sourcing the talent needed to optimize its technology as it ramps up effort to extend speedy credit to more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the West African country.
The round was led by an array of angel investors, including Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled, the co-founders of the African cross-border payments company Chipper Cash; Olugbenga Agboola of the San-Francisco based payments firm Flutterwave; Bolaji Balogun, the CEO of investment banking firm Chapel Hill Denham; and Hakeem Belo-Osagie, the founder of Metis Capital Partners.
This is the largest amount Payhippo has raised to date after receiving $1 million in pre-seed funding earlier this year.
The company’s co-founder and chief operations officer, Chioma Okotcha, said they are looking to hire more engineers and data scientists.
Payhippo says it disburses short-term loans in less than three hours, a record that remains unmatched by traditional banking institutions in the country, which often require borrowers to meet stringent conditions, like regular account activity and the maintenance of minimum operating balances. A bank loan application also requires a visit to physical branches and extensive paperwork.
Payhippo applies its own credit scoring formula that uses different SME data to determine the value of loans to give out. The loans are disbursed through mobile phones. The average loan disbursed by Payhippo is about $1,300, with the minimum loan being about $200.
Payhippo says it is banking on its fast turnaround time for loan applications to grow its customer base within Nigeria before venturing to other countries. The company says it has so far disbursed about 5,000 loans since inception, valued at $1 million and with a repayment rate of 97%, earning them $64,000 in revenues. It added that the demand for credit is high, fueling its current 25% month-on-month growth.
Going forward, the company targets to tap the credit needs of the nearly 40 million SMEs in Nigeria to grow its business.
Payhippo is one among many digital lenders in Nigeria offering short-term loans to SMEs. Others include Carbon and FairMoney.