Irofit raises $600k for “internet free” mobile payments

IroFit, a Helsinki-based startup offering a mobile payments dongle that will prompt many Square references, has completed a $600,000 seed round to fund a platform for merchants in emerging markets.

While the mobile payments market is flooded with similar offerings, like Stockholm’s iZettle, the Finnish startup has added something extra.

IroFit’s solution is a mobile platform for small business to accept card payments using a mobile EMV-certified card reader and mobile app. But Irofit’s “Internet-free” tech will allow the platform to operate in areas with absolutely no data coverage. Instead, the platform using a regular mobile signal and SMS, placing the startup in a different market – and technological league – to its competitors.

The company’s seed funding was round led by Nordic early-stage VC Inventure, with participation from Solinor, a payments industry software developer, and Rasheed Olaoluwa.

IroFit will use the funds to further develop the platform and launch the service in Nigeria.

IroFit co-founder and CEO Omoniyi Olawale says that in order to develop the payments ecosystem in some emerging markets, the Internet should not be too heavily relied upon. Even in large cities in Nigeria, he argues, IroFit is still the better option.

“Internet connection is usually so spotty and unreliable that it isn’t a reliable option for payment terminals,” Olawale told TechCrunch. “Initial testing in Nigeria has shown our solution consistently delivers greater than 95 per cent connection success rates, as against the less than 50 per cent aggregate for the country.”

“Moreover, it also works in areas where traditional terminals do not function at all due to no Internet coverage,” he added.

Irofit is entirely prepared for the recent changes in payments processing. Unlike Square, which only accepts magstripe for now, Irofit also works with Chip and PIN, and is NFC enabled.

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