Prince Boakye Boampong, the founder and CEO of Dash, which provides an alternative payment network with connected wallets allowing interaction between mobile money and bank accounts in Africa, has allegedly been temporarily suspended pending an investigation into financial impropriety, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
Boampong founded the Ghanaian fintech in 2019 and is one of Africa’s well-known serial entrepreneurs after co-launching OMG Digital, a YC-backed Ghanaian media startup, in 2016. For the time being, the board replaced him with Kenneth Kinyua, the former CEO of Kopo Kopo, a Pan-African payments business, who recently joined Dash for a regional leadership role in East Africa. Kinyua assumes the role of interim CEO.
Last March, the Ghana-founded and New York–headquartered Dash raised $32.8 million in equity from Insight Partners, Global Founders Capital, 4DX Ventures and ASK Capital, among others. The seed round, which according to sources, valued Dash at slightly over $200 million, was the second-largest deal of its kind after PalmPay’s $40 million in 2019. It also signified Insight Partners’ first lead investment into an African startup; the $20-billion behemoth took part in Flutterwave’s Series C round in 2021.
Before raising over $30 million, Dash initially wanted to raise a quarter of that money, about $8 million, as its seed round. It had done so by October 2021 off the back of acquiring about 200,000 users and processing $250 million in transaction volume. By March of 2022, five months after its first seed tranche, Dash’s total processing volume topped $1 billion and had acquired a million from Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, Boampong told TechCrunch in the March interview. That’s a 4x boost in transaction volume and a 5x rise in user count within five months. The rapid growth, coupled with the fintech boom of 2020–2021 that spilled into the first quarter of 2022, allowed Dash to draw new investors as it reopened and quadrupled its seed round.
In retrospect, though, the user and transaction volume growth that Dash reported within that short period may not have been entirely above board, as its growth figures significantly differed from what TechCrunch usually sees around how other consumer fintechs scale in Africa.
Indeed, sources told TechCrunch that Boampong was allegedly suspended as chief executive for engaging in financial misreporting. However, Dash’s board, in a joint statement, communicated a different angle regarding the former chief’s current status to TechCrunch. Without offering a comment or providing specific context on Boampong’s wrongdoing, a spokesperson for the board said it placed the CEO on “indefinite administrative leave on January 24, 2023, pending a forensic financial audit of the company.” The audit results might be out within a month, sources say.
On the interim CEO’s appointment, the board stated it is “confident in Mr. Kinyua’s leadership and ability to execute Dash’s mission to create a unified payments system designed to increase efficiency and accessibility for how Africans transact with digital money.”
Meanwhile, sources familiar with the company’s internal operations allege that executives repeatedly concealed financials within the firm and described a disorganized workplace where employees resigned and were laid off at will. TechCrunch reached out to Boampong for comment. The founder — who, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation, sold millions of dollars’ worth of his shares in a secondary sale, a practice that a handful of African founders participated in during the VC boom over the last two years — didn’t respond.
Dash, a unified payments app combining mobile money and traditional bank accounts, facilitates transactions for consumers and businesses. The fintech’s playbook is similar to Visa or Mastercard as it routes payments through banks and telcos regardless of who issued it. Thus, users from different African countries Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, can connect their bank or mobile money accounts to Dash, pay bills, and send and receive money to other users while the platform handles currency conversions. The four-year-old fintech generates revenue from processing fees, savings, FX fees, bill payments, and subscription fees.
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Dash CEO placed on ‘indefinite administrative leave’ as the Insight-backed startup carries out financial audit by Tage Kene-Okafor originally published on TechCrunch