Pan-African fintech company, MFS Africa has rebranded to Onafriq as part of its evolution, and also due to trademark challenges in America. “The trademark MFS actually belongs to another company in the US, and our ability to use it outside of Africa was becoming difficult,” according to Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO. “With this new name, we can bring everybody together under one brand and identity.”
Last year, the startup acquired US-based Global Technology Partners (GTP) in a cash-and-shares deal worth $34 million. The trademark hurdle that Okoudjou noted where possibly identified during this expansion.
GTP serves clients across 34 countries and collaborates with approximately 80 banks, including prominent African institutions such as UBA, Ecobank, Stanbic, and Zenith.
Aside from the challenges with trademark in the US, the CEO of Onafriq also said that: “The name MFS Africa, just like an old jacket, was getting a little tight for us as we’ve grown. We've expanded beyond just mobile financial services, becoming a true omni-channel platform across the continent and beyond. As we embark on this next phase of our journey, we wanted a name that reflects our aspiration of wiring up the whole continent into one network of networks with pathways from and to every African and every African business.”
The inspiration for the name “Onafriq” draws from the combination of potent elements: “Ona,” representing the Yoruba word for pathways, “Afrique,” the French word for Africa, and a subtle nod to IQ, symbolizing MFS Africa's dedication to becoming a leader in intelligent African fintech, the startup said in a statement seen by Bendada.com.
Onafriq boasts a network that spans 40 African markets, linking more than 500 million mobile money wallets, 200 million bank accounts, and 300,000 agents within Nigeria. This extensive reach empowers a wide range of financial activities, including domestic and cross-border disbursements and collections, card issuance and processing, agency banking, and treasury services.
The fintech serves as a pivotal link between global and regional enterprises, mobile network operators, money transfer operators, banks, fintech companies, global development organizations, as well as online and offline merchants. Furthermore, the company's operations are bolstered by world-class regulatory and compliance capabilities, along with a robust regional presence through its 10 offices in Africa and additional locations in the UK, the US, and China.
“From the get-go, my goal was to build a payment infrastructure that touches every corner of Africa and that lasts for over 100 years. My hope is that we get to do that and that we get to make borders truly matter less,” says Dare Okoudjou.
Last November, Onafriq (then MFS Africa) obtained three licenses–PSP (Payment Service Provider), PSO (Payment Systems Operator), and IPI (Issuer of a Payment Instrument)—from the Bank of Uganda (BoU). This was a year after the startup acquired Beyonic, a Ugandan-based digital payments services provider for enterprises operating in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.
This is one of the startup's several expansion moves across the continent in recent times, including the acquisition of Nigerian super-agent Capricorn Digital Limited, Baxi.