(Bloomberg) -- Paystack, a Nigerian fintech startup and unit of Stripe Inc, is reducing its operations in Europe and the Middle East to expand in Africa, as it seeks to refocus its business. 

It’s cutting 33 employees in Europe and the United Arab Emirates, where its engineering hub is located, to enable it “localize costs and get closer to customers,” CEO Shola Akinlade said in a statement posted on X. “We’re changing our operating model to prioritize locating team members within the markets we serve,” he said.

No team members in Nigeria and the operating markets in Africa will be impacted, the firm said in emailed response to questions.

The payment processing and services provider this month announced expansion into Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt and Rwanda, bringing to seven its countries of operation on the continent, in addition to Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. 

Founded in 2015 by two Nigerians including the CEO, Paystack was acquired by U.S. payment-services giant Stripe Inc for $200 million in 2020. The US firm, which was in growth mode in the European markets at that time, wanted Paystack to help expansion in Africa.

In the three years following the acquisition, the firms “hiring philosophy was to recruit great talent regardless of location,” Akinlade said, adding that the  restructuring will optimize manpower and customer services in African operations.

Africa, with a huge unbanked population and increased adoption of smartphone and digital technology, is attractive to investors seeking to leapfrog payments services. Fintechs such as Interswitch Ltd., Flutterwave Inc. and Jumia Technologies AG have achieved billion-dollar plus valuations. 

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