Zambian startup gets into YC, develops card-issuing API

Over 40 startups from a few nations in Africa have participated in YC in the past ten years. Today, Zambia becomes a part of that crop of nations as fintech Union54 becomes the first Zambian startup to enter the accelerator program.

Union54 is a fintech firm founded by Perseus Mlambo and Alessandra Martini early in 2021. The startup prides itself as the first card-issuing API in Africa. 

Although the arm that offers the API only launched this year, the parent firm’s history predates 2021. The founders started their fintech journey with Zazu.

Founded six years ago as a Zambia-based neobank, Zazu provided payment solutions to Zambians that made remittances seamless and faster. As with most firms in its line of business, Zazu had to create debit cards to make it easier for users to spend from their wallets. 

After facing countless hassles and delays with partner banks, the founders approached Mastercard directly and secured a Mastercard Principle membership, allowing Zazu to act as an “issuing bank”.

Through Union54, Zazu founders now offer a range of APIs to help other fintech firms issue virtual or physical debit cards.

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