Before starting Dash, a fintech company in 2019, Prince Boakye Boampong traveled to Kenya and was impressed by how the country’s unbanked population could pay for bills and services using mobile money. Mobile money penetration in Kenya, which is facilitated by Safaricom’s M-Pesa, has won global admiration with its over 30 million users.
In Ghana, where Boampong comes from, the mobile money platform is largely used for sending and withdrawing money to relatives and friends. Using it to transact business and pay for goods and services is still in the nascent stage.
“I was blown away by the ubiquity and convenience of mobile money in 2014 when I visited Kenya for the first time. However, there are over 200 mobile money wallets and 100 banks across the continent that [do] not work with each other,” Boampong, the CEO of Dash, told TechCrunch.
What Boampong’s travel to Kenya brought to the fore for him was the fact that a unified payment ecosystem across Africa is lacking. In other words, if a Kenyan using M-Pesa travels to Ghana, the Kenyan cannot use his platform to transfer money to a Ghanaian who is using MTN due to a lack of interoperability.
Boampong realized that this was a market gap, leading to the founding of Dash in 2019 to build an interoperability platform in Africa to facilitate payments. The platform allows someone traveling from Kenya or Nigeria to Ghana to pay for goods and services without having to change currencies or set up an account.
“We’re building this interoperability so a Kenyan traveling to Ghana or Ghanaian traveling to Kenya would be able to pay for stuff without having to change currencies or setting up accounts when they touch the ground,” Boampong said. “We’re taking a page from AliPay and PayTm by building features that will make the lives of our users easier without having to switch from different providers.”
The Ghanaian entrepreneur designed his platform to function like Visa or Mastercard, where payments can be routed through banks and telcos irrespective of who issued it. He has started with users from Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.
They can connect their bank or mobile money accounts to Dash, save and invest, pay for goods and services, and send or receive money (regardless of currency) as the platform handles currency conversions.
“We are committed to unifying the financial sector in Africa and leveraging its current technological revolution as more than 400 million smartphones and 548 million mobile money users circulate within the continent. Dash will provide a singular solution for all our users, individuals, merchants, and banks,” said Boampong.
In a statement, the platform said that in January 2022 alone, it reported a Total Processed Volume (TPV) of over $300 million, up 3X on a monthly basis from Q4 2021. It also said that its one million customers have processed over $1 billion since its launch in 2020.
The company makes money from processing fees, savings, FX fees when Dash is used cross-border, bill payments and subscription, according to Techcrunch. This week, Dash announced that it has raised $32.8 million in an oversubscribed seed round. This is one of the largest for an African startup.
The seed round was led by New York-based private equity and venture capital fund Insight Partner. The fintech company had previously raised $8 million when it had just over 200,000 users and generated transactions amounting to $250 million.
Prior to starting Dash, Boampeng was the co-founder of OMG Digital, a YC-backed Ghanaian media startup he started in 2016 alongside Jesse Ghansah, the current CEO of Float.