Nigerian startup Duplo makes it easier for African businesses to pay each other by providing digital tools that enable a more efficient, cost-effective and transparent process of making and receiving payments.
Founded by Yele Oyekola and Tunde Akinnuwa in September 2021, Duplo allows B2B companies to automate payment inflows, reconcile at scale, and create a streamlined experience for business customers.
Businesses are able to perform all their payment operation needs on Duplo and also offer financial services to their customers, with the startup describing itself as a “financial operating system for B2B companies”. Businesses of all sizes can seamlessly generate and process invoices, offer customers a more efficient payment experience, and position themselves for consistent growth by improving their payment flows.
The startup announced a US$1.3 million pre-seed earlier this year after taking part in the Y Combinator W22 batch, and swiftly followed up with a US$4.3 million seed round in September. Oyekola believes Duplo is addressing a huge market opportunity.
“According to the World Bank, B2B payments in Sub-Saharan Africa represent a US$1.5 trillion market. However, the process of making and receiving payments remains largely manual, expensive and highly inefficient for businesses. Invoices are also not standardised and they are typically issued and received manually. This increases the administrative burden on business owners, taking more time and effort that could have been invested into their businesses,” he said.
“With Duplo, businesses can automate the process of making and receiving payments, reducing the risk of theft and fraud, cutting time spent on admin tasks such as account reconciliation by up to 50 per cent, and reducing payment-related costs by up to 85 per cent. There are still various challenges in the payment process that make it difficult for businesses to maximise opportunities to scale their operations. Our mission at Duplo is to address these challenges to more effectively position African businesses for the growth they need to scale their business.”
The startup, which charges a transaction fee on every payment that goes through its platform, believes its competition is the status quo.
“People have been used to slow and clunky payment processes for years and the main challenge is getting them to consider a different way after which they are convinced to use the alternative payment option we are offering,” said Oyekola.
Well-backed by VCs, Duplo has seen great traction with FMCG distributors and finance teams of midsize and enterprise businesses, helping them to digitise and simplify how money moves between them and their business partners.
“FMCG distributors can onboard retailers in their network on the Duplo platform, making it easier for them to collect payments digitally and access real-time insights into business performance. They can also automate payments to vendors, manufacturers and suppliers, with instant payments enabling them to transact in larger quantities,” Oyekola said.
For finance teams, Duplo’s end-to-end solution automates the back-office processes of generating and processing invoices, receiving and approving bills, collecting and disbursing funds, and completing account reconciliation. Duplo works seamlessly with all major accounting and ERP platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, QuickBooks and Sage, and payments processed through Duplo are automatically synced with these platforms in real time.
Currently operating in Nigeria, Duplo plans to expand into other African markets next year.
“Our plan is to use our seed funding round to launch new products which will enable us to address the seamless flow of money in other sectors and to further transform how they make and receive business payments,” Oyekola said.