Zambia-Based Card Issuing Startup, Union54, Raises $12m In Seed Funding

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Union54 is a fintech company offering card issuing services in partnership with licensed card issuers in their respective countries. Union54’s API allows software companies from the African continent to issue and manage their debit cards without requiring a bank or a third-party processor. This enables cross-border payments and easing the overall process.

Union54 says it aims to create a homegrown alternative to worldwide known card issuers. Such as Mastercard and Visa, who dominate the continent but impose higher fees for merchants.

According to the CEO, recent global events like Visa and Mastercard pulling out from Russia. This leaves China’s UnionPay to fill in the void, have made it evident that payments can be influenced by politics.

The purpose of creating another card network is an inspiration of what’s happening right now. Number one, we’re vulnerable and hostage to any political decisions that might affect trade on the continent. And if anything were to happen, we would wake up and would not have access to our funds.
Number two, when you think about the card networks today, they’re not fit for African merchants because settlement is often taking three days for a local debit card, maybe it’s taking over seven days for an international debit card. There’s a significant opportunity as the world realigns itself; we need to get to a point where we’ve got a payments route that needs to be developed locally for local use.”

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