Nigerian fintech startup Vesti, which simplifies banking for intending immigrants and those who have newly-arrived in a new country, is planning expansion into a host of new countries this year after securing backing from Techstars.
Launched in May 2021 by two Nigerian brothers – Olusola and Abimbola Amusan, both immigrants in the United States (US) – Vesti is a neobank that provides financial services, information and community for the 272 million international migrants who do not have access to banking.
Adaptable to any country, Vesti’s technology allows immigrants to open bank accounts, get debit and credit cards, and bank like they never left their home country.
“We also help intending immigrants make difficult migration payments to services in the countries they are moving to, using our platform. Our service is a huge answer to the prayers of immigrants all over the world, who experience pain points when they arrive in a new country,” Olusola told Disrupt Africa.
“Before they arrive, immigrants must pay fees such as attorney fees, credential evaluation and visa-related fees, many of which are not supported by local card companies. Today all these payments can be made on Vesti. Also, when they arrive, immigrants must establish banking history and build their credit score. This end-to-end payment and banking infrastructure deficit for immigrants is what Vesti is out to simplify.”
A significant solution for a significant market, then, and investors are backing Vesti to succeed. In April, it was one of three Nigerian businesses selected for the Techstars NYC accelerator programme, receiving US$20,000 in equity funding and access to other support services. The startup is also funded by angels, and some VCs including Berrywood Capital, Microtraction, and the Discovery Centre.
“We also have a decent revenue margin and started making money from day one. So far we have raised US$500,000, and we are closing on more venture funding, to keep us ahead of the competition,” Olusola said.
Vesti – which makes money from transaction fees on payment services, upgrade fees to access migration services in-app, and lending to immigrants – already has around 50,000 users, and is growing fast. The platform has processed more than US$1 million in gross transaction volume so far.
“Gaining 50,000 users almost organically in 10 months is proof that people want our service. This is a company that can easily grow to half a million users by the end of 2022,” said Olusola.
It will do that by expanding into more markets. Currently operating in Nigeria and the US, the startup is in the process of expanding to Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh as we speak, and plans to add the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by the end of the year.
“Every year nearly 700,000 new immigrants arrive in the United States, coming mostly from Asia and Mexico. However, the number of immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa triples each year. This growing trend is unique, and we want to capture this growth and engender further growth,” Olusola said.
He said solving banking for immigrants in a country they are completely new to was a tough challenge, even more so than solving cross-border payments, but believes Vesti is equal to the task.
“We encounter a lot of challenges while integrating new services, and building partnerships that drive our business. What keeps us going is the success stories and the customers we serve daily,” said Olusola.