Kenya’s MODE acquired by Singapore’s TransferTo (DT One) to bolster its global mobile top-up solutions


MoDE, Mobile Decisioning, a Kenyan mobile value-added services firm providing airtime credit to mobile network operators in emerging nations has been acquired by Singapore’s TransferTo, which rebranded recently to DT One.

According to Peter De Caluwe, CEO of DT One: “We are thrilled to have acquired MODE as we see their airtime credit service (ACS) as a key differentiator and growth opportunity given its natural value add to our existing global operations.”

MODE will become the DT One ACS division and full integration is expected to be completed in Q4 of this year. DT One recently partnered with Safaricom to allow PayPal-MPESA transactions in Kenya.

Airtime Credit Services

Founded in 2009 by Pastor Julian Kyula, MoDe is known for its Airtime Credit Service, an emergency airtime credit service advanced to prepaid mobile subscribers and paid on the next reload. The firm has operations in 13 countries across Africa and works with mobile networks such as Airtel and MTN to grow their revenues and talk time.

In 2013, MoDe was the winner of IBM’s SmartCamp and was named IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year and now claims to serve more than 500 million prepaid mobile users in Africa, Asia and Middle East.

MODE applies data science to provide financial services and is at the forefront of mobile financial technology, providing airtime credit and microloans to millions of mobile phone users across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Exit for investors

MODE’s foundation product is Airtime Credit Service (ACS) – a cashless microloan and the company’s mission is to deliver easy and convenient access to financial services through technology. MODE serves more than 500 million prepaid mobile users, across 20 countries in partnership with 26 mobile operators, processing more than 18 million airtime and data loans daily. The firm was earlier backed by Spring Accelerator and Future Fifty.

Cross-border mobile top-up becomes DT One

“MODE is quite a remarkable company, which from its humble roots as a Nairobi startup in 2009, has grown into a highly successful international business and the global leader in airtime credit services – cashless micro airtime or mobile data loans,” De Caluwe, CEO of DT One concluded.

TransferTo had two businesses, a cross-border mobile top-ups and payment solutions network. The rebrand saw it launch two separate company brands, logos and identities, DT One and Thunes.

Founded in 2005, TransferTo’s mobile top-up and rewards business, rebranded to DT One to bolster its global network for mobile top-up solutions and innovative mobile rewards. 

The business has been experiencing solid year-on-year growth, and last year delivered more than a 30% increase in both revenue and transaction volume. DT One will continue to focus on building smarter data-driven mobile solutions to enable more people worldwide to have better access to digital communications. 

Payment solutions network becomes Thunes

The cross-border payments business, which started in 2016, now operates independently from DT One and was renamed to Thunes. Thunes will focus its efforts on providing better interoperability between diverse payment systems and supplying smarter payment solutions for emerging economies. Since inception, this startup has also delivered exponential growth, and in 2018, saw nearly 900% growth in revenue and processed over $2 billion worth of transactions. 

“The decision to rebrand TransferTo and separate the cross-border payments business enables both companies to accelerate growth by independently delivering more targeted solutions to customers and partners,” said DT One CEO and Thunes Executive Chairman, Peter De Caluwe. 

“The industry is continually evolving and we see this change as an important next step to better position ourselves to capitilise on the growth opportunities in this rapidly changing market.”