JUMO: A Full Tech Stack for Building and Running Financial Services

A customer accessing JUMO through her mobile phone. Photo/Courtesy JUMO.

Briefly tell us about JUMO and its mandate?

JUMO is a full technology stack for building and running financial services. We use advanced data science and machine learning to create the fastest and leanest financial services infrastructure.

What products are in your stable now and what can customers look forward to?

To date, we have launched mobile credit products in all of our active markets. Our products are accessible, easy to use and understand. This is important since many of our customers have had minimal or no contact with financial services before. We have two types of credit products: a short-term, single repayment loan and a longer-term installment product payable monthly.

We recently launched a savings product in two markets giving customers the ability to save regardless of their location or the type of phone they have. Using mobile money infrastructure we’ve removed the time-consuming task of going to a branch to deposit or withdraw money.

We are in the process of adding more financing options for merchants who stand to benefit most from access to working capital to grow their small businesses or for cash flow.

JUMO is also building a points programme which incentivises positive financial behaviour and serves as a financial education tool.

What sets JUMO apart from other providers in the industry?

Our biggest differentiator is the way we use behavioural data, such as mobile money activity, to develop alternative credit scoring methods. We don’t require access to a customer’s social media information, or that they use a smartphone or mobile data to access our products and services. This helps keep the cost of accessing finance low for customers.

How is JUMO leveraging new technologies to promote financial inclusion?

JUMO analyses alternative data sets to gain insight into new ways of creating opportunities that can address shortfalls in the financial system. For instance, we are able to use data to identify excluded groups that don’t have appropriate access to finance, such as women. Women in emerging markets remain financially underserved for cultural, social and geographical reasons. Our data science teams are able to use machine learning to identify certain behaviours in these groups so that we can customise products and services for them.

What are some of your key milestones since establishment?

Since it was founded in 2015, JUMO has served over 14 million customers across six markets in Africa and Asia. We’ve disbursed over USD 1 billion to entrepreneurs and small business. While we are proud of that, we are not blind to the fact that there are still hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia who remain financially underserved. We are working on ways to reach them and serve their needs.

Can you comment on the role of financial technology in the social and economic transformations of emerging markets?

Financial technology has the potential to enable access to financial services to the most un(der)served people.

Consider, for example, a female merchant who is a mother working in a local market in Lusaka. She sells a crate of bananas a day and after settling her expenses, has to be able to put food on the table. At the end of the day, she may not have enough money to buy another crate of bananas to sell the next day. But, if she has access to a small loan, she can buy two crates of bananas and sell more to boost her income. The additional income could pay for school fees and other family essentials.

Photo/Courtesy JUMO

With proper, responsible lending practices and sufficient customer education, financial technology can transform lives. If scaled sustainably this affords us the opportunity to have a positive social impact on entrepreneurs and their communities.

Any emerging trends in line of your business and how you intend to take advantage?

There are two trends relevant to our business – the increase in smartphone adoption across Africa and an increase in mobile money use by individuals, businesses and governments. For example, Nigeria has historically experienced slow growth in the mobile money space, but since the government fast tracked the operation of mobile money services, the country is positioning itself for steady growth. This creates opportunities for financial technology companies, especially JUMO who partners with MNOs to deliver greater value for customers. These two trends will enable us to grow our financial services products and reach a greater volume of customers.

Where do you see JUMO in the near future?  Any other pertinent issue?

JUMO currently operates mobile financial services in five African countries, but this is set to grow exponentially as we expand our suite of existing products and develop new ones. We’re operational in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and South-East Asia identified as future growth opportunities for advancing financial inclusion.

By Dinko Svetic, Country Manager, JUMO Zambia