African start-up of the week: Infinity Space wants to become PayPal on the continent
With its WeCashUp mobile payment solution, the start-up Infinity Space headed by Cameroonian Cédric Atangana aims to become a single point of entry on the continent, between the mobile wallets of telephone operators and e-merchants. The launch in 35 African countries is scheduled for September 2016.
Cédric Atangana stalled this time. Candidate for the eleventh season of BFM Academy, the competition for business creators on the French channel BFM Business, the young boss was eliminated on Monday, May 9 for one reason only: WeCashUp, the universal mobile payment platform that its team and him develop for three years, is not yet launched.
But the jury was enthusiastic about the talent of the 24-year-old industrial and computer engineer, graduated from Polytech Marseille, to sell his baby which will be launched in September in 35 African countries. Didn’t he pocket a pack worth $ 20,000 in 2014 in Silicon Valley by presenting his solution in one minute at Google I / O Pitch Night – an annual search engine conference American dedicated to new generations of companies?
The figures are known and the potential enormous: one billion mobile phone users in Africa, most of whom do not have bank accounts, and as many customers of one or other of the mobile payment solutions offered by telephone operators. mobile, like Orange Money, MTN Mobile Money, Tigo Cash, Airtel Money or M-Pesa Vodacom, to name a few. Not to mention the similar services that are offered by the banks themselves.
No matter the competition, WeCashUp approaches its market segment with important ambitions since it wants to become the “African PayPal”, from the name of the online payment service to the 184 million accounts in the first quarter of 2016. Unrealistic?
A team of 20 people who play the African card to the full
Before its launch, the team of 20 people behind Infinity Space plays a la carte African – on the team’s web page the origins of each are highlighted (Cameroon, Kenya, Congo Brazzaville) – and can count on a slightly more senior staff.
This is the case for Marc Legoc, professor of artificial intelligence and computer science applied to research at Polytech Marseille, alongside several sponsors in strategy, communication or business development. All are chaperoning Infinity Space so that WeCashUp launches under the best conditions.
The technology of the payment solution – which will take the form of an application which few details filter so far – is being patented in France. It intends to interconnect the mobile payment systems of the various telecom operators on the continent.
The promoters of the project are conducting a marketing campaign with the aim of attracting large e-merchants such as the American Uber, the French Cdiscount and Afrimarket, as well as many Nigerian, Moroccan, Kenyan and South African companies.
WeCashUp’s business model is fairly classically based on charging a commission for each transaction. “Negotiations are underway with telecom operators to arrive at a single price,” notes Cédric Atangana. According to the figures communicated by the young manager, his company aims for a turnover of 600,000 euros at the end of 2016.
A result he sees exploding after the launch of the application, at 12 million euros at the end of 2017. The most pressing challenge is to complete a fundraising 300,000 euros before the end of June to complete the tests.