Flutterwave CFO Resigns amidst $50m IPO Plans

Oneal Bhambani, chief financial officer (CFO) at Flutterwave, has resigned, just over a year after joining the Africa’s leading payments company.

Bhambani, took to his LinkedIn to make the announcement public, saying “I wish everyone at Flutterwave the best and I will be rooting for you. Last week, I made the difficult decision to end my tenure at the company.”

His resignation is coming as the fintech company plans a $50 million investment in Kenya.

Bhambani joined Flutterwave after serving as CFO for American fintech Kabbage.

He was at Kabbage, a lending company, when it was acquired by American Express.

Post acquisition, he stayed on as an executive. He left American Express to join Flutterwave at a time when the company was facing fraud allegations in Kenya and battling court cases.

Flutterwave in Kenya has undergone what its Co-founder terms as ‘a baptism of fire”.

Alleged accusations of money laundering led the corruption watchdog, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), to shut down several of its bank accounts in the country.

The development saw the state freeze over USD 52 million of Flutterwave’s funds. However, the case was withdrawn and Flutterwave was granted access to its accounts on this occasion.

This year, a group of 2,468 Nigerian  Nationals obtained a court order to have 45 Flutterwave accounts in Kenya frozen alongside 10 Mobile Money Wallets.

The Nigerians claimed the pan African start-up was the vehicle used to defraud them of $12.04 million.

Bhambani’s time at the payments company was also marked by expansion into Rwanda as a licensed remittance company.

After making his resignation public, he has not announced his next move yet.

In the interim, Israel Koledowo, head of Finance for Africa, will serve as the Flutterwave’s CFO.

The company is set to begin a global search for a new CFO.

Meanwhile, despite, its troubles in Kenya, Flutterwave  plans a $50 million (Ksh7.3 billion) investment in Kenya.

Bhambani has quit as at crucial phase as the firm pushes for a payments and remittances licence in Kenya.

In September, Olugbenga Agboola, the company’s chief executive and co-founder confirmed that Flutterwave has received first-name approval from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

“We are looking at investing not less than $50 million. We are employing people. We are getting a new office and scaling up our infrastructure. There is a lot to do in Kenya,” said Mr Agboola.

Optimistic on receiving a payments and remittance licence from the regulator, Flutterwave has been hiring more staff to prepare the ground.

The firm has snapped up top talent from other fintech’s like Chipper Cash and tech companies including Safaricom and Microsoft. It is building a team while planning to set up a physical premise in the country.

Securing approval in Kenya will expand Flutterwave’s presence into additional African markets, including Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Cameroon, where the company already offers payment infrastructure solutions for merchants and service providers.

Bhambani, who previously served in the same role at American Express and Kabbage, joined Flutterwave in June 2022—a few months after the company secured a $250 million Series D at a valuation of over $3 billion.

Announcing his appointment at the time, Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola, founder and CEO of Flutterwave, said: “His track record of operating finance to enable scale and innovation with listed company standard financial controls will help us accelerate our growth as we continue to meet the needs of our expanding global customer base.”

Given that his appointment occurred a few months after the company had been accused of financial misconduct, some analysts contended that Bhambani’s hiring was imperative.

They argued that since the scandal primarily centred on financial issues, an experienced CFO could have either prevented or more effectively controlled the problems.

Earlier this year, allegations of financial misconduct against Flutterwave in Kenya were dismissed. Subsequently, the fintech company has initiated a series of strategic hires to facilitate its expansion in the East African nation.

Moreover, it has unveiled intentions to invest $50 million in the country. In August, Flutterwave received name approval from the Central Bank of Kenya, a significant step towards obtaining its remittance and payment licenses.

In August, Flutterwave partnered with IndusInd, the sixth largest bank in India by assets, to expand its remittance product, Send App to the South Asian country. Before the expansion announcement, Agboola said that it was moving forward with plans for an initial public offering (IPO), which it first publicly indicated in 2022.

“The timing of the listing will be determined by many factors.

Currently, we’re dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Like any company in our position, we consider multiple strategic opportunities. I can’t share any details regarding listing venues,” Agboola said.

Flutterwave processes over 500,000 daily payments and operates across 34 African countries, accepting payments in more than 30 different currencies.

The platform offers a wide array of payment options, exceeding 15, and it receives over 20 million API calls each day.

Additionally, as of February 2022, Flutterwave’s e-commerce solution amassed a network of more than 30,000 merchants.

Their rapidly growing product, Flutterwave Send, which debuted in December 2021, processed 4,729 transactions amounting to $3.6 million in its first full month of operation.

This product attracted customers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Nigeria.

By March 2021, Flutterwave had processed 140 million transactions totaling over $9 billion. By February 2022, the number of transactions processed had surged by more than 40%, reaching 200 million transactions, with the transaction value soaring by 78% to $16 billion.

During the same period, the number of businesses utilising Flutterwave’s diverse payment methods globally tripled, growing from 290,000 to 900,000, according to Contrary Research.

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