AZA Finance says it has agreed to buy SA’s Exchange4Free to become the biggest nonbank 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 $2.5bn and will give it an entry into SA, 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.

“SA was a market in which we thought it was better to buy than build,” AZA CEO Elizabeth Rossiello 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 $5m, a sector largely neglected across Africa, she said. By encouraging trade in currencies on the continent and between nations, the fintech company says it is boosting intra-Africa commerce, a key drive in the region where the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into effect in 2021.

It also works with 26 remittance companies that help Africans working elsewhere to send money home. These flows to Sub-Saharan Africa total about $35bn 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 and Greycroft Partners.

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.

Bloomberg News. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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