Nigerian fintech startup Zone secures $8.5 million in seed funding to expand its decentralized payment platform

African financial ecosystems have been increasingly embracing a blend of indigenous and international technologies to enhance their offerings. At the forefront of this innovation wave is Appzone, a local fintech powerhouse renowned for supplying banks and fintech companies with software solutions that offer competitive pricing and superior flexibility.

Over a Decade of Pioneering Financial Solutions

Founded over ten years ago and headquartered in Nigeria, Appzone has emerged as a pivotal force in the realms of banking and payments. The company specializes in the development of both custom software and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products, catering to an impressive roster of over 18 commercial banks and more than 450 microfinance institutions throughout Africa, with a notable presence in Ghana and Kenya.

In 2022, the founders Emeka Emetarom, Obi Emetarom, and Wale Onawunmi ventured into a bold new direction by integrating blockchain technology with traditional banking and payment systems. This strategic pivot led to the rebranding of the company to Zone, which now operates as a fully licensed, blockchain-enabled payment infrastructure firm. In parallel, the original banking-as-a-service operations were spun off into Qore, an independent entity. Zone’s latest achievement is securing $8.5 million in seed funding to fuel its growth.

Zone: Bridging the Future of Payments in Africa

Zone’s strategy is simple yet revolutionary. It seeks to address the inadequacies of Africa’s current payment infrastructure in supporting a seamless transition to a digital economy. By leveraging blockchain technology’s scalability, Zone is creating an interoperable payment platform that links banks and fintech firms, facilitating direct transaction flows without the need for intermediaries.

Subheading: A Closer Look at Zone’s Innovations and Impact

The Evolution from Appzone to Zone

  • Blockchain Integration: In a strategic shift, Appzone embraced blockchain technology to enhance legacy banking and payment systems, resulting in the formation of Zone.
  • Rebranding and Focus: The transition to Zone highlighted a deeper focus on blockchain technology, positioning the company as a leader in Africa’s payment infrastructure landscape.

Pioneering Africa’s Payment Infrastructure

  • Regulated Blockchain Network: Zone has distinguished itself as Africa’s first regulated blockchain network dedicated to payments, attracting major banks across the continent.
  • Interoperable Platform: By developing a blockchain-based payment infrastructure, Zone enables seamless transactions between banks and fintech entities, eliminating the need for traditional intermediaries.

The Technology Behind Zone’s Success

  • Licensed Switching Capabilities: Zone obtained a crucial switching license from the Central Bank of Nigeria, integrating with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System for optimal interoperability and swift fund transfers.
  • Direct Card Routing (DCR): This innovation allows for direct connections with card issuers, streamlining POS transactions and enhancing reliability for consumers and merchants alike.

Financial Institutions Embrace Zone

  • Wide Adoption: Over 15 of Africa’s largest banks have joined Zone’s network, with seven already processing domestic transactions through various channels, including ATMs, POS, and direct debit.
  • Implementation Stages: Despite the complexity of onboarding, eight banks are in the midst of integrating Zone’s solutions, underscoring the platform’s potential to revolutionize the banking sector.


  • New Use Cases and Functionalities: Zone plans to expand its offerings, including POS transactions, to incorporate fintech companies and improve financial transaction efficiency across the board.
  • Instant Reconciliation and Settlement: Leveraging blockchain technology, Zone aims to introduce immediate reconciliation and settlement features, addressing longstanding issues of transaction delays and chargeback fraud.

Zone’s Milestones and Financials

Year Milestone Financial Highlight
2022 Integration of blockchain technology; Rebranding to Zone Raised $8.5 million in seed funding
2023 Secured over 15 major bank partnerships Processed transactions for over 10 million cardholders
2024 Launch of new POS use cases and functionalities Aiming to process over $1 million in ATM transactions in Q1

The narrative of Zone is not merely about technological advancement but a testament to the transformative power of innovation in reshaping the financial landscape of Africa. By facilitating a more interconnected and efficient payment ecosystem, Zone is setting new standards for speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness in financial transactions.

  • First Regulated Blockchain Network for Payments: Zone’s establishment as the first regulated blockchain network in Africa for payments marks a significant milestone, offering unprecedented security and transparency in transactions.
  • Significant Bank Partnerships: The collaboration with over 15 of the continent’s largest banks, including the processing of transactions through various channels, underscores the trust and reliability vested in Zone’s platform.
  • Innovative Financial Solutions: From launching new use cases to integrating large fintech companies, Zone’s continuous innovation drives forward the financial sector’s evolution in Africa.

The journey of Appzone to Zone encapsulates a broader narrative of African innovation, where local solutions are not only competing but also leading in the global tech arena. Through strategic rebranding, embracing blockchain technology, and securing a place as a regulated payment infrastructure provider, Zone is poised to revolutionize the way transactions are conducted across the continent. With its recent funding and ambitious plans for expansion, Zone stands at the forefront of Africa’s march towards a more inclusive, efficient, and digital financial future.

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