When we first featured the company in 2014, the pitch from IroFit (ZirooPay’s parent company) was that its “Internet-free” technology — a mobile platform for small businesses to accept card payments via a mobile app and EMV-certified card reader — worked in areas with no data coverage, particularly in emerging markets.
CEO Omoniyi Olawale, who was based solely in Helsinki at the time, stated that the funds raised ($600,000 in seed) would be used to launch the company in Nigeria. However, the firm did not complete that launch in Lagos until five years later. In a recent call with TechCrunch, Olawale explained that the delay occurred because his company, which recently raised an additional €2 million, was fine-tuning its technology and expanding its capabilities.
That pitch hasn’t changed, and ZirooPay has grown tremendously in three years. According to the company, its POS terminals and mobile application are used by over 15,000 merchants. According to the company, these merchants have processed $500 million — a 5,000 percent increase in three years — across 10 million transactions.
The rate of transaction failures due to a poor internet connection is one of the most significant barriers to the widespread acceptance of card payments in retail locations. “That led to us developing our in-house technology, which we have a patent for, which allows us to process those events in real time without an internet connection,” Olawale said of his decision to make ZirooPay available offline first.
“So the product was built around that major problem; with that, we were able to identify a 95 percent transaction success rate versus the less than 50 percent that you find in the market,” he added.
The next major issue for POS terminals is functionality, which refers to what other features they can provide aside from payment processing. Every interaction between a retailer and a customer is a gold mine for payment processors and merchants. However, because POS terminals lack bookkeeping capabilities, merchants are more likely to manually reconcile their books on a daily basis or rely on Khatabook-like platforms such as Kippa to digitize their processes.
However, ZirooPay advises merchants who use its platform not to look elsewhere. According to Olawale, its mobile application enables small businesses in the retail, agency banking, hospitality, and services sectors to perform similar tasks, such as tracking sales and managing business operations.
“Think about everything that cash registers in big supermarkets can do; we provide that same functionality to small businesses with an Android app and a mobile point-of-sale card reader,” he said.
“Within three months of onboarding, we were able to see over 70% of our users migrate from paper-based accounting to rely on the in-app sales accounting.”
The expansion funding will enable ZirooPay to expand its product suite and include additional payment channels and options in its quest to build an omnichannel system for merchants. And, as POS providers in Nigeria, particularly fintechs, shift their focus to agency banking—a massive fintech segment that drives financial inclusion—ZirooPay sees an opportunity to dominate an open retail space.
“No major company is attempting to tackle this space with modern technology, and that’s one area where we see an opportunity because we are primarily a retail payment platform.” Even though we offer agency banking on the side, our primary focus is on retail, which sets us apart from the competition,” said the CEO.
“The growth in the online economy of the African continent has been remarkable,” said Samson Esemuede, managing director and chief investment officer of Zrosk, of the investment: “However, the offline economy is orders of magnitude larger than the online economy.”
“ZirooPay has a patented technology advantage (that works without an internet connection) and distribution model that significantly increases the chances of digitizing the offline economy at a unit cost that makes the story especially compelling.” The payment space has become well-resourced and competitive, but the white space we see in cash digitization is why we are optimistic about the investment’s prospects.”