Months after the initial closing of its seed round, Talk360, a South African Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) startup, has raised an additional $3 million, bringing the total investment raised in the round to $7 million.
Recent Talk360 investors include Allan Gray E2 Ventures (AGEV), Kalon Venture Partners, E4E Africa, Endeavor, existing lead investor HAVAÍC, and a number of angel investors including Tjaart van der Walt and Coenraad Jonker.
The company plans to use the new funding to launch a pan-African payment platform next year and increase its VoIP market share. Talk360’s payment platform will integrate “all payment options” across the continent, creating a diverse set of localized payment options, making it easier for international and local businesses to sell to buyers residing in Africa.
“The new platform will allow users across the continent to purchase products and services using any currency and more than 160 payment methods. It will also be open to other merchants,” Talk360 said in a statement.
Talk360 told TechCrunch in a previous interview that its decision to be a payment aggregator was based on challenges it encountered implementing digital payment options, which affected the bottom line of its Internet calling business.
Dean Hiine, co-founder and CEO of the startup for Africa, told TechCrunch that existing digital payment methods in Africa are scattered and some involve long and complex processes, which affects their conversion rate.
Hiine, who co-founded the startup with Hans Osnabrugge and Jorne Schamp in 2016, hopes to leverage the payment platform to enable more people across the continent to make international calls through his app. Talk360 users make calls for a fee, with its platform built in such a way that only the initiator needs the app and the internet (a smartphone) to make calls.
“Our mission is to bridge the distance and connect lives by offering reliable, affordable and easy-to-use digital services delivered in a localized manner to all communities, particularly emerging countries, so they can connect with the world,” said Hiine.
The startup also has a network of agents, including PesaPoint in Kenya and Flash in South Africa, that allow users to purchase airtime vouchers at more than 750,000 physical outlets.
“But we’re not just solving socioeconomic problems: we’re also offering micro-enterprises and income-generating opportunities to our growing network of agents across the country.”
The company said its internet calling app has connected 2.3 million people globally so far this year, achieving 167% growth in customers and 130% growth in revenue. The app has active users in more than 170 countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh.
“We are investing further in Talk360 based on its strong progress in the South African market to date, as well as its potential in the rest of Africa. Since our first investment, the company has shown tremendous growth and a genuine ability to meet the distribution challenge in Africa. We have seen the company convert users into paying customers by offering them relevant services and making them accessible in an easy, affordable, reliable and trustworthy way,” said HAVAÍC Managing Partner Ian Lessem.