These days, I have been thinking about my journey and the many ways I have earned grace that pushed me further ahead in my career. I remember my former boss, the Late Dr. Herbert Wigwe, may his soul rest in peace, and the pivotal role he played in our initial pitch to process payments for Uber in Nigeria.  

While it saddens my heart that he is no longer with us and will not be able to provide such support for me and many others again, I take comfort in knowing that that singular act gave us impetus and validated our mission toward the growth you see today. 

When I think of our journey and 2023, I reflect on the grace that we have received at different inflection points to propel, steady and focus us. Despite a challenging macro economic environment that has seemingly persisted for a while, we persevered, created, failed, succeeded, learnt, and we gained clarity. For this, I have immense gratitude for our customers, partners, people, solutions, regulators, investors and our entire ecosystem.


Our Customers

Our customers are at the centre of what we do at Flutterwave and their support and trust keep us here. In 2023, we expanded our customer base to include Nigerians looking to exchange their naira by launching Swap in partnership with Kadavra BDC and Wema Bank. This new customer base joins the businesses and diaspora folks who we already serve.

Africans have been historically excluded from the global payments system – paying and getting paid across African countries and the world is still a hassle for most. One of the reasons we exist is to solve this problem and in 2023 we announced some key relationships that would bring us closer to our goal. This includes our collaboration with Audiomack and IATA which points to our commitment to continue enabling easy expansion of multinationals into Africa. 

IATA’s international financial gateway is an industry-led payment gateway for the global airline industry. Flutterwave’s integration here means that Africans are one step closer to being able to pay in their local currencies for international flights. 

Similarly, in the creative and entertainment industry where we have partnered with Wizkid, a leading figure in the entertainment industry, our work enabling industry and leading pop culture events like Flytime Fest speak for itself. It’s evident that we care about the creative and entertainment industry, African creators as well as their fans. 

Working with Audiomack, we built technology that enabled monetisation for African artists on the platform and I’m excited to highlight that the landing page is among our top 3 most visited for December. Africans deserve a platform which understands their pain points and makes it easier for them to access services whether music, movies, live events, international flights etc and Flutterwave is at the forefront of making this a reality. 

To validate our support to our customers, Fast Company just listed us as No. 1 in the innovative Companies List, EMEA category, 2024. We join companies like Nvidia, Open AI, Youtube on the list. Every day, we come to work, and we live and breathe innovation. We’ve since built out Africa’s biggest payment network by reach, created solutions that make payments solutions, currency exchanges, e-commerce, and remittances easier for global companies selling in Africa, local businesses and Africans alike. We will continue to nurture a DNA of innovation as we simplify payments for endless possibilities. 

Our Partners

To build the solutions our customers love, we have to work with very important partners. We can’t do it alone and I often say payments is partnerships. What people will consider an instant payment – sending money from the UK to Nigeria –  is a system of optimized relationships between us and our partners for the benefit of the customers. Typically, it passes through more than 4 entities. We are honored that we are able to build these relationships with valued partners.

As the African diaspora continues to grow and expand, it is important that we think of easier, faster and secure ways to enable them to fulfill their payments needs in the continent. We announced as a partner in the UK and EU. We also announced Microsoft as a technology partner to build our next generation platform on Azure, with the goal of fast-tracking payment innovation in Africa. 

We’re grateful for their effort in working with us in turning challenges into opportunities and as we supercharge our growth in the coming years, we’re looking forward to more reliability, efficiency and support. 

Our People

Our people are essential to our success. As a lifelong learner, I was delighted to support an Engineering Mobility Program sponsored by our People and our Engineering executives. This initiative, which I consider one of our Projects of the Year, took 22 of our engineers in Lagos to India for a knowledge and skills exchange program facilitated by Capgemini. We hope to be able to do more of this across the organization and other departments. 

We have also invested in our Career Progression Framework and related online learning resources which guide our people through a career progression roadmap from entry level roles as Analyst 1 and Engineer 1 grades to Senior Vice President. The framework sets out in simple and clear terms, the skill-set, and experience required for individual contributors and people managers to progress to senior and leadership roles. 

I hope that these investments in our talent communicate my personal commitment to our people that no matter where you start within Flutterwave, there will always be room at senior and leadership levels for those who apply themselves. 

2023 was a challenging year for us as a company as we dealt with macroeconomic headwinds and I am glad our people were resilient through them all. We’re proud of the team we’ve built at Flutterwave – everyone who has passed through has contributed greatly to this goal and we are grateful for their sacrifice. I am also confident that we will be ready for the opportunities ahead. 

We welcomed leaders from various organizations to support our vision in the growth of our business. Particularly, and in line with our focus on maintaining the highest regulatory and compliance standards, and strengthening our risk infrastructure, we bolstered our team with industry leaders in the field, including our first-ever Chief Risk Officer. We focused on our Data, Product, Sales, Strategy, Marketing, Expansions and Partnerships Teams with new leadership.  They’re here to contribute to the wealth of talent we have and move us closer to our goals. 

That said, we’re also sad to say goodbye to our COO, Bode Abifarin who recently moved on from the Team. Bode joined us as an Associate Director from KPMG in 2018 and has grown with us ever since. In her role, she managed day to day operations and was the engine behind the improvements we made towards supporting our customers better. The best way to look at Bode’s legacy is in how she made others do great work. For every goal you saw Flutterwave achieve, Bode was fundamental. For some of us who watch football, Bode was like the defensive midfielder who covered the home defense, encouraging the others to go out there and attack (acquire customers and grow revenue). 

Beyond work, many Wavers if asked to describe Bode would tell you she is enthusiastic, passionate, warm, fun to work with and extremely funny. She is a big advocate for women in business and in the workplace as seen in her industry and community work. To me, she was a friend before Flutterwave and will be a friend after she’s transitioned from the Team. The Wavers will miss you and of course, I will miss working with you. This is a see you later, not a goodbye. Thank you Bode, and like you and I will always say, once a Waver, always a Waver. 

Our Regulators

In 2023, we obtained an International Money Transfer Operator (IMTO)  license in Malawi, and Money Transmitter Licenses (MTL) in various states across the US and we’re grateful to our regulators for the trust they’ve placed in us. We’re also excited that we have been able to put the issues in Kenya behind us after being cleared in the country. It took a lot of work, dedication and sacrifice but we got there. 

Our close and growing collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”) demonstrates the relatively quick impact that can be driven through public-private partnerships. We hope to be able to do that across our different geographies. Hence, we’ve prioritized investment in our risk and compliance strategies and functions.  We now have dedicated team members across our strategic markets/regions, and we’ve bolstered the team with senior executives from prominent companies and regulatory bodies. 

Going forward, we are doubling our efforts to work more closely with market experts and regulators to drive the important conversations and create an enabling environment for the ecosystem.  And that’s why I am particularly excited about this opinion piece on policy harmonization in the payments industry by our Chief Regulatory and Public Affairs Officer, Bankole.

We Gained Some Much Needed Clarity

As a market leader, we have explored a lot – we learned a key lesson to break down our products in the simplest way, ensuring they do exactly what they promise without doing too much. We’ve found that this has made us more efficient – we can focus on bettering a simple product while leveraging  our API. 

2023 was a year of setting the foundation for the next phase of growth. During the year, we enhanced  Send App, gave it a different updated look, and made it faster with better rates. Read how we rebuilt the Send App here. We experienced some bumps in the road, but Send App is a resilient product that has taught us a lot about the process of building a retail-first product. 

Send App does one thing and one thing alone. It helps people in the UK, US, Canada, Europe and various African countries to send money home to other African countries. It doesn’t hold money, does not have a wallet and does not have virtual cards. We could add all of that but we chose not to because we learned a hard lesson around building simple products that do one key thing. We also built Swap and Tuition on Send App’s infrastructure, saving development cost and time.

In addition, we increased our customer base for both business and retail products by over 160%. One of the key drivers for this fast growth has been the maturation of our omni-channel platform, with our in-store transactions soaring by over 1800% year over year and now accounting for about 9% of our TPV. This shows the success of our strategy to develop our omni-channel business, and the trust that major global retailers and large African corporations place in us to process their transactions both online and in-store.

On the other side of the coin, I’l take this time to answer the question in everyone’s mind – there’s no easy way to say this – we are saying goodbye to Barter by Flutterwave.

Barter was one of our first successful attempts to build a retail payments product and we had many bumps in the road on that journey, but it also served as the most solid basis for the products we’ve built since then – the lessons and experience have been invaluable, and the show of trust, faith and support from our early adopters spurred us on. That said, our retail solutions like Send App, and Swap continue to remain a priority as we improve and grow them. 

Growth Plans for 2024

Expanded/Enhanced Enterprise Payments

We will be placing more focus on servicing the enterprise segment for our key markets from 2024 in line with our mission to connect global companies to African users. Our hope is that as the world continues to see the potential in Africa, we will be available to help all sides earn value from the relationship. This change  is the outcome of  the lessons from a seven-year journey  and the need to do more with less.

With this new focus, we have been adding highly experienced talents for both managerial and non-managerial roles across different regions and industries to enhance the dynamic solutions and provide the support needed to meet the diverse payment needs of our existing and potential enterprise merchants. 

Doing this is important because enabling the expansion of multinational companies like Uber into and within African countries helps create alternative sources of income and knowledge transfer, which could have boundless and exponential growth effects on the continent in all sectors. 

As a home to over 500m young people with growing digital literacy and disposable income,. we must continue to support Africa economies and their people to do more in this digital age. We believe so much in the possibilities that we want to continue to make it easier for this to happen and for African giants like Air Peace to expand seamlessly across Africa. 

The work we continue to do in enabling these expansions comes from our in-depth understanding that Africa needs deeper interconnectivity with itself and the world, to leapfrog. This integration will be complete when global companies view our continent as the place to do business and create value. We’re happy to support these businesses with our suite of omnichannel payments capabilities including offline payment solutions, and online payments which allow you to pay with local methods like bank transfer, local and international cards, mobile money, and alternative payment methods like Google Pay etc. 

Currently, Flutterwave has the widest reach among payments companies operating across Africa. We used to say “Africa is not a country, but we make it feel like one.” We will be deploying our reach, licenses and partnerships to ensure Africa feels like a country to these businesses and their customers. Also, we will double down on the use of data, making all our major business moves 100% data-driven to drive our long-term play and contribute to our sustainable growth.

New Corridors for Send App 

Our promise is to be wherever our customers are, and that includes diaspora Africans that use SendApp. We already got licenses in 13 US States and now have reach in 29 States but that’s just the beginning as we will be expanding to the remaining 50 States of the US. We will also deepen our reach in the rest of North America and countries in the Middle East and Asia. Send App is a solution that has captured the imagination of its users. People have used the App for various use cases like planning their marriages and supporting loved ones. We plan to make this App available to as many people that need it as possible in 2024.

Thought Leadership 

We will also continue to engage regularly with issues and topics, such as cross-border remittances to multinational operations in emerging markets, that we’re passionate about. Policy issues are key in our outreach plans. We will use various platforms to reach out to key stakeholders including regulators on topics we feel strongly about. This is part of our learning in the last year, as we engaged with regulators all across the world. 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our journey as Flutterwave, we appreciate your trust, your advocacy and your support, and we’ll continue to do all we can to make you proud.  

Published by GB

CEO and Founder