Visa, together with Foundation Capital, has led a $170 million Series C funding in African-based financial app, Branch.
Branch and Visa share a vision of bringing financial access to billions of people still unreached by banks. Visa's investment in Branch will help expand financial access across the African continent, while fuelling new expansion in India and Latin America.
The companies will team up to offer virtual prepaid debit card numbers to customers around the world. This enables unbanked Branch customers the option to receive credit at any physical ATM, bypassing the need for a bank account.
"We started Branch in Kenya, where M-Pesa gives anyone with a phone - including the unbanked - access to digital credit. Unfortunately, mobile money isn't available in most countries," says Matthew Flannery, CEO and co-founder of Branch.
"With the help of Visa, now we can send cash to any ATM and reach the underserved around the planet."
Visa and Branch say traditional barriers such as a credit score and bank account make financial accessibility a challenge for over two billion people in the world. Yet, they add, many in underserved markets have a financial tool right in their pocket: their mobile phone.
By tapping into the rise of mobile technology worldwide, Branch aims to radically expand financial access, making full global inclusion a reality in our lifetime.
"At Visa, we believe financial empowerment is an essential passport out of poverty," says Bill Sheedy, executive vice-president of strategy at Visa. "Our partnership with Branch provides Visa a key distribution mechanism to reach people that were previously out of reach and help shape the future of microfinance."
Joining the round of investment are existing investors, Andreessen Horowitz, Trinity Ventures, Formation 8, the IFC, CreditEase and Victory Park, as well as new investors, Greenspring, Foxhaven and B Capital.
"I've known the Branch team since right after the company was founded," says Charles Moldow of Foundation Capital, who will join the Branch board of directors.
"After tracking them for years, it has become clear to me that emerging markets are one of the biggest growth areas for fintech. Our history of successful fintech investments is evidence that we know how to spot true innovators, like Branch. The team has executed incredibly well and is poised to become the cross-border financial super-app."