AZA Buys Exchange4Free to Become Biggest Africa Non-Bank FX Firm
(Bloomberg) -- AZA Finance said it has agreed to buy South Africa’s Exchange4Free Ltd. to become the biggest non-bank provider of currency exchange and treasury services in Africa.
The acquisition of Exchange4Free will more than double the value of AZA’s annual value of online transactions to more than $2.5 billion and will give it an entry into South Africa, the most developed country on the continent, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. That will extend AZA’s services to more than 115 countries. The value of the purchase wasn’t disclosed.
“South Africa was a market in which we thought it was better to buy than build,” Elizabeth Rossiello, AZA’s chief executive officer, said in an interview, citing the need for an understanding of the country’s currency regulations.
AZA and smaller rivals service the market for companies and individuals who make transactions of $10,000 to $5 million, a sector largely neglected across Africa, she said. By encouraging trade in currencies on the continent and between nations, the fintech company says it’s boosting intra-Africa commerce, a key drive in the region where the African Continental Free Trade Area came into effect this year.
It also works with 26 remittance companies that help Africans working elsewhere to send money home. These flows to sub-Saharan Africa total about $35 billion annually.
The company, which Rossiello founded eight years ago, created currency pairs between some of Africa’s less used currencies. It has its main offices in Nairobi, Lagos, Dakar and London.
Investors in AZA include the Development Bank of Southern Africa, which recently took a stake, Draper Associates LP and Greycroft Partners LLC.
AZA plans to launch its services in Egypt and then expand across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
“We are looking for our next transaction very soon,” Rossiello said.
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