NALA, an East African financial technology company, has grown rapidly in recent years via geographic expansion, product innovation and improvement on financial infrastructure.
One of the critical elements to NALA’s growth has been their methodical approach to pursuing payment licenses.
Holding licenses permits the company to own more steps in the payment flow, including direct integration with banks and mobile money operators.
The company received approval from the National Bank of Rwanda for a Payment Service Provider license, which will enable direct integration with banks and mobile money operators locally.
This is a major milestone towards NALA’s mission to build strong payment networks in Africa, and a signal of their intention to continue investing in Rwanda, given the country’s position as a global hub for business and investment.
NALA has been operating in Rwanda since 2021, partnering with other companies to disburse remittance payments to bank accounts and mobile money wallets.
Since then, the company has processed 10,000+ transactions and helped thousands of Rwandan diasporans send money home.
This has resulted in over one billion Rwandan Francs being sent home from abroad. The new PSP license enables NALA to process disbursements and collections in-house, reducing cost and increasing reliability for those sending money to and collecting money from Rwanda.
With this new license in hand, NALA can now offer: Payment gateway services, allowing merchants to collect payments from local channels such as mobile money or cards, Direct integration with telcos and banks, opening up greater reliability and control as well as reduced overhead costs and payment processing on behalf of third parties, such as other remittance services.
NALA group COO Nicolai Eddy said, “Enabling direct integration to banks and telcos allows us to address some of the most pressing and sticky challenges that individuals and businesses face when moving money across Rwanda’s borders. Our new PSP license enables us to build these capabilities under our own roof, which means we can improve quality of service and reduce cost. We have worked closely with the Bank of Rwanda to complete the appropriate steps to become licensed as a Payment Service Provider. With this new license, NALA commits to supporting and collaborating with the Rwandan regulator and the relevant government agencies to accomplish our shared ambitions.”
The approval comes after the rollout of the Rwanda Fintech Policy 2022-2027, which aims to firmly establish Rwanda as a regional financial centre and advance the nation’s financial inclusion.
The report states: “The development of the Rwandan fintech landscape and the establishment of Rwanda as a fintech hub will attract investment and provide the technology and financial services needed to make Rwanda a global financial centre… Fintech also enhances the reach and efficiency of financial services more broadly to boost financial inclusion beyond payments.”
Rwanda’s vision for economic advancement, not just of their own nation, but of the region and the continent aligns closely with NALA’s mission to increase economic opportunity for Africans worldwide.
Jean-Marie Kananura, Chief Investment Officer at Rwanda Finance Limited
commented: “The establishment of NALA aligns perfectly with our aspirations of positioning Rwanda as a Fintech hub. NALA’s presence will undoubtedly contribute to our efforts to drive digital and financial inclusion in Rwanda. We are excited about this development as it underscores our immediate role in facilitating different forms of investments to structure through KIFC. Working closely with different stakeholders, we have put in place the right framework and policies to create a conducive environment that will attract more Fintech companies like NALA in our ecosystem to drive innovation and growth of our financial sector.”
NALA continues its operational activities in Rwanda, and hopes to support the nation’s ambitions to innovate and advance technologically, especially as a lever to support opportunities for its growing youth population.
The NALA App is available for download via the App Store or Play Store from the US, UK and Europe.
Despite the many options for sending money to Africa from abroad, the continent continues to be the most expensive destination to send money to. The World Bank estimates average transfer fees to Africa at ~9%. Further, many existing options include hidden fees that make it hard to discern the true cost of sending money.
NALA is working towards changing the paradigm of financial tools for Africans by providing fair and transparent services to empower people with control over their finances.