Home » Meet Zambian entrepreneur breaking barriers with Africa’s first card-issuing platform

Meet Zambian entrepreneur breaking barriers with Africa’s first card-issuing platform

by Omokolade Ajayi
Perseus Mlambo

Perseus Mlambo, a tech entrepreneur and startup founder, is using innovation and technology to drive the adoption of mobile payment services in his home country, Zambia.

Mlambo’s journey as an entrepreneur began in 2015 with the launch of Zazu, which aims to make money management simpler and more accessible to people, especially in low-income groups.

The tech entrepreneur, who holds degrees in law, psychology, and social work, has always been passionate about solving problems and creating value in society. Prior to starting Zazu, he worked on a DfID project in El Salvador addressing environmental issues affecting farmers’ livelihoods and also had a stint at the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Through Zazu, Mlambo has created a fintech platform that aggregates financial service providers and helps customers find the best products for their needs, all while increasing transparency in the industry.

Motivated by a desire to make mobile payment services easier, faster, cheaper, and better, Mlambo partnered with Alessandra Martini to launch Union54, a homegrown alternative to Mastercard and Visa.

As Africa’s first card-issuing platform, Union54’s API allows African software companies to issue and manage debit cards without the need for a bank or third-party processor, saving fintech firms six months of development time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in setup fees.

Since its launch last year, the startup has issued more than 500,000 virtual debit cards to customers and seen a 600 percent increase in revenue in its first month, with processed volumes reaching double digits in the millions of dollars.

Union54’s success has not gone unnoticed by investors, and the startup, under the leadership of Mlambo, recently raised $12 million in a seed extension round led by Tiger Global, a U.S. investment firm focused on internet, software, consumer, and financial technology startups.

In addition to attracting investment, Union54 has also gotten in touch with three central banks interested in exploring settlement agreements with the new card scheme.

Mlambo’s vision for Union54 is to scale its operations and continue improving access to financial services in Zambia and across the African continent.

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