South African mobile payments business Zapper is seeking to raise fresh capital in a deal that could value the firm at close to $1bn, reported Bloomberg News citing people familiar with the development.

The Cape Town-headquartered firm is said to be considering options including a stake sale for the fundraising.

The firm has hired Ernst & Young as advisers on a potential deal and could also consider a merger with a strategic bidder, according to sources whose identities were not revealed as the matter is private.

Nothing has been finalised yet and it’s the type of deal that will determine the valuation, the added.

A Zapper spokesperson told the news agency in response to questions about a potential deal: “Management is excited by future opportunities, underpinned by an innovative technology roadmap.”

The person also added that the interested parties have put the firm “in excellent standing for ongoing and future discussions.”

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Founded in 2014, Zapper operates a mobile payments platform that facilitates quick settlements using QR code and URL technology and the use of data insights to award discounts. 

The platform is said to have around 250,000 customers and 65,000 merchants.

In 2020, China-based technology giant Huawei struck a partnership with Zapper to introduce its mobile payment service ‘Huawei Pay’ in South Africa.

In 2018, Zapper launched Mastercard’s digital payment service, Masterpass, at over 20,000 of its merchants across the country.

South African startups are said to have raked in a record $5bn through funding rounds in the last year.

Last November, Ozow, a South African payment gateway, secured $48m in a Series B funding round to expand the availability of alternative payment solutions across the country.