(Bloomberg) -- Cellulant Ltd., a Kenyan payment-services provider, is starting a South African business after months of testing the market and is looking to wrap up fundraising for further expansion to the Middle East and UK.

The two-decade old company is looking to tap South Africa’s mature retail ecosystem, Chief Business Officer Sike Bamisebi said in an interview, with the United Arab Emirates and UK set to follow in the next two years.

Cellulant is about to close its latest fundraising round, she said. While the company hasn’t disclosed the likely amount, it has previously indicated it could raise as much as $100 million. 

“We provide a valuable proposition in South Africa. We work with premium merchants and we give them access to these markets,” Bamisebi said at the Africa Tech Summit in London. “These new markets fall in line with our strategy to prioritize the top markets.”

Payment-technology companies have been at the forefront of an unprecedented boom in investment in African startups, which hit a record $5 billion in 2021. Businesses such as Flutterwave Inc. in Nigeria are tapping into rising demand for e-commerce on the continent, fueled by better connectivity and a lack of traditional banks.  

Cellulant’s backers include TPG Growth’s The Rise Fund, which led a $47.5 million round in 2018. The company operates in 18 countries and serves 35 others. 

The company enables businesses to collect payments online and offline from mobile money, cards or banks. Its clients include airlines, banks, fintechs and fast-food chains including Burger King. 

In its latest partnerships, Cellulant partnered with Copia Global, a Kenyan e-commerce platform, to facilitate payment for diaspora and urban customers. 

Cellulant’s fundraising comes amid a cool down in startup investment globally in part due to rising US interest rates. Funds raised by African startups this year are likely to match the previous year’s record $5 billion according to data from Briter Bridges. 

(Updates with details on Copia Global partnership in penultimate paragraph)

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