Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Orca Fraud Raises $550k to Fight Fraud in Emerging Markets

Orca, a South African startup that works with banks and fintechs in emerging markets to fight various types of fraud, has raised a $550,000 pre-seed round. The money raised will be used to build simple, yet effective fraud prevention tools and iterate with customers in South Africa.

The round was led by Norrsken22 with participation from First Circle Capital, Musha Ventures, Kara Ventures as well as several strategic business angels and family and friends. The round was well oversubscribed which is remarkable in these current market conditions.

South Africa has seen a 600% increase in reported fraud cases since 2018 (SAFPS, 2022). In addition to this greatly increasing volume, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to effectively identify and prevent at scale. The rise and growing adoption of new payment methods (Payshap, mobile money, cross border payments, e-wallets etc) has resulted in new avenues for syndicates to execute large-scale fraud, often enabled by instant settlements.

There’s several fraud and AML prevention providers which are trained to fight fraud in first world countries. Unfortunately, not many solutions are affordable and tailored to fighting fraud in Africa and other emerging markets.

The types of fraud are different due to: different payment methods and platforms, different socio-economic climates and regulations. Fintechs and banks in Africa need modular fraud prevention services which can protect them and their users from the damaging repercussions of fraud — this is exactly the kind of solution that Orca provides. South Africa is the cybercrime hub of the world which is why Orca is launching here before tackling the rest of the continent.

Thalia Pillay, co-founder of Orca, says “It has been incredibly useful establishing a network far beyond South Africa where we’re able to connect with fraud players in other markets. There are so many parallels between the types of fraud that we see in various emerging markets. There’s so much fraud to fight that it really is a team effort. As we always say, we named ourselves Orca because orcas band together to take down boats. Looking forward to collaborating with our peers to take down fraudsters”

Using the funding raised, Orca plans to expand its team and build, validate and iterate on their fraud and compliance products.

On the funding round, Thalia Pillay, co-founder of Orca, said, “We are excited about the strategic investors we have onboard, who can provide us with various types of support we are looking for at this early-stage. We aimed to have a diverse cap table that reflects where and how we plan on growing the business. Most of our investors are builders themselves who have successfully navigated B2B and fraud spaces which makes them especially relevant to us.”

Nivesh Pather, Norrsken22, said, “We have seen the quantum and complexity of fraud challenges faced by emerging market banks and fintechs, specifically in Africa, as they scale to provide increased financial inclusion. Orca is building a fraud prevention solution that is tailored for the African market. The market needs a bespoke solution, rather than a retrofitted suite of tools that was built for global markets where the finance and regulatory infrastructure is totally different. Whilst our core focus at Norrsken22 is on supporting growth stage businesses, we selectively back exceptional founders at an earlier stage building in key verticals and we believe Orca is in a great position to become the leading fraud tooling for African businesses.”

Selma Ribica, Co-Founder of First Circle Capital said, “We invested in Orca Fraud because of their focus on building an orchestrated fraud prevention platform, with tailored fraud models based on a company’s transactional data. Thalia and Carla are super strong product experts and experienced in fraud risk management. We are bullish about the scaling potential of the solution they are building”.

Orca was founded by an all-female founding team. All-women founding teams in the world, but especially Africa are rare. Between 2019 and 2022, data from “Africa: The Big Deal” shows that on average only 1% of funding went to female-only founding teams or solo female founders. However, this duo aims to disrupt the male-dominated landscape that are startups and ensure they reach the growth phases where dropoff typically occurs by being lean, resourceful and agile.

Advocating for women in engineering has always been a core passion of both Carla and Thalia. Now, being founders themselves, they realize the importance of having representation and diversity in all aspects of their business – from founding teams, to investors, to future employees. Orca will be hiring over the next few months and aims to build out a world–class team to innovate towards a fraud-free future.

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