Going Against the Grain: Financing Low-middle Income Earners via Tech

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Ever since it hit the global arena, technology has virtually revolutionised everything centering on human life. Huge tasks have been simplified both at an individual and organizational level. For instance smartphones and mobile money adoption.

According to a recent research finding by Global Smartphone Connections Intelligence (GSMA) smartphone connections are projected to triple in the next three years. This provides a perfect launching pad for enhancing financial inclusion through mobile banking technology.

It is against this backdrop that GetBucks, a brand of MyBucks group, has been empowering thousands of lives financially. According to Anthony Maulgue, chief executive of GetBucks Kenya, mobile money has made it easier to conduct transactions: “We already make significant use of various mobile money solutions on the continent in our products. We foresee a big shift coming in the next few years. With Blockchain and Open Banking fundamentally changing the way we transact, regulators have no option but to keep up. They need to focus on development and take the stance of being enablers in order to foster more innovation which will change the global financial landscape for good.”

GetBucks set up operation in Kenya a five years ago. Previously operating on brick and mortar payslip lending, it has overhauled its systems to fully embrace fintech. “Our loan applications are completely online and there is no human to human interaction. Not that we do not want to see the client but the system is timely and efficient. Physically giving credit through queues in a banking system can be an arduous process,” says Anthony.

Online loan application is simple. Clients have been educated on how to use the apps and online platforms.

Anthony admits that the platforms are fast, secure and accessible to nearly everyone. Working around the clock, it takes an average of five minutes from the time a request is made to actually disbursing the funds.

The firm’s product portfolios are innovative and diversified, to the expectations of targeted customers. “From Mama Mboga selling groceries along the streets, to fishermen in Lake Victoria to the taxi guys in town, they all find haven here,” reveals the executive.

Traditional SME financing take an average of three to four weeks. GetBucks has completely redefined this experience via tech. it is now much faster and takes an average of two to three days. On some cases it can even take a day where the application processes are completed in the same day.

There are other targeted products for asset financing, agriculture and group loans.

“Most low income earners here in Kenya and many other emerging markets have been financially excluded. While most lack operational bank accounts, they can access Mpesa or any other form of mobile money. We have taken a deliberate decision to finance them and we have relevant risk mechanisms with our digital algorithms to analyse their credit worthiness and finance them accordingly.”

According to Anthony, the institution has a better understanding of its targeted clients including their social and economic lifestyle. As such it makes use of relevant platforms to reach out to them and create awareness. “Besides using traditional media like print, outdoor billboards and radio advertising, we make use of digital platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube among others to communicate to them,” he says.

Milestones

Since setting up shop in Kenya, GetBucks has steadily grown to become a force to reckon with within the financial landscape in Kenya. It now has close to 70 employees working in 14 branches nationwide.

“Going into a market which everyone considered too risky, and improving livelihoods through responsible financing is fulfilling. It is equally exciting to see a client move from a street vendor to a shop owner or parents educating their children through our loan products,” shares Anthony.

Enabling Virtual Financial Inclusion Through Technology

MyBucks S.A is (WKN: A2AJLT, ISIN: LU1404975507, Ticker Symbol: MBC: GR) is a FinTech company based in Luxembourg that delivers seamless financial services via technology. Through its brands, namely: GetBucks, GetBanked and GetSure, the company offers unsecured consumer loans, banking solutions as well as insurance products to customers. MyBucks
has experienced exponential growth since its inception in 2011 and today has operations in twelve African and two European countries.

MyBucks aims to ensure that its product offering is accessible, simple and trustworthy, in comparison to traditional, non-technological methods, ultimately working towards enhancing the benefits to the customer. The MyBucks’ product offering enables customers to manage their financial affairs easily and conveniently.
Edge Magazine highlights how the firm aims to deliver a buffet of financial products and services that meet the financial needs of targeted customers through technology

Do Fintechs have space in high growth emerging markets?

Fintech is to banking and financial services what the mobile phone was to landlines in Africa. Like mobile phones, Fintechs reach will surpass the physical banking halls and branches, which have limited reach on the continent. It is a game changer because it makes financial services more cost-effective, convenient, and with greater reach. If managed correctly, it is the answer to financial inclusion in emerging markets. Our partnership and recent acquisition of some of the Opportunity International Banks on the continent has diversified our clientele ranging from low to middle class. We can now offer them Fintech solutions. Apart from that, we educate our clients through Financial Education programmes, while offering them Digital Savings, SME, education and Agricultural loans. Our primary goal is to bank our clients as we believe having a bank account is the cornerstone of financial inclusion. Technology makes this easier.

What are some of your greatest accomplishments?

The recent rollout of our SME/Nano Loan app called Haraka in Kenya, has been a resounding success, in less than three months we have had thousands of downloads in Kenya alone. The app provides small loans to informal entrepreneurs with small short term loans. Assessment and KYC (Know Your Client) is performed by our artificial intelligence engine called Jessie; that uses an applicant’s mobile phone data to perform’s this function. We are also working on a technology-based
financial education programme funded by a very prominent international donor in Uganda, in collaboration with Opportunity International.

How do you make use of tech to enhance financial inclusion of targeted customers?

We use technology as a means to deliver the product to a customer’s mobile phone, computer and or a tablet PC equipped agent. We utilise our artificial intelligence, self-learning algorithms to understand and assess customers in the absence of credit bureau information.Our systems make the process safer, faster and more reliable for the customer. We also equip our customers with a mobile budgeting tool, and integrate with existing fintech and technology partners to deliver a complete financial experience for customers.

What’s the role of financial technology in the social and economic transformation of emerging markets?

Fintech has already made a substantial positive impact in terms of social and economic transformation. To use one of the pioneers, Mpesa as an example. Mpesa has 21.8 million registered users in Kenya making payments person to person (KSh 106 billion), person to business (KSh 23.5 billion) and business to person (KSh 27.8 billion) per month.
These numbers are just scratching the surface of what the global impact is or can be. You will also notice that other mobile money services in various forms are now available in almost every country in the continent.
What does the future hold with a vibrant Fintech sector? And what will be MyBuck’s role in shaping these projections?

There is a Fintech boom across the globe at the moment. MyBucks feels that it is uniquely positioned as it provides the technology and the underlying services and products. There are many banks buying fintech firms, and fintech firms providing technology only. MyBucks is a fintech firm doing the opposite, by doing this we wish to enable rather than disrupt. We are also focused on reaching the underbanked, and providing access to not only credit, but also savings, insurance, and other products, there is potential to positively influence the fortunes of many Africans.

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