Pocket Money has come up with a marketplace that offers a multi-layered solution that ensures that the borrower is introduced to various potential lenders.
KAMPALA, Uganda, May 13, 2019 – Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of new fintech models, offering alternative financial solutions to the conventional set-ups, more so in the lending sub-sector in Africa. New horizons in the African financial industry are evident with new trends gaining strong traction especially through peer-to-peer (P2P) models-allowing such distinct niches as consumers, SMEs and other borrowers who were hitherto ignored by conventional lenders to access loans more efficiently and expeditiously via digital lending technology.
Be that as it may, financial pundits lament that credit extension in Africa lags behind other regions, noting that while the ratio of credit is only 18 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, comparable figures in South Asia and Latin America are 37 percent and 47 percent respectively.
However, hope is in the air though, with Pocket Money, a digital lending marketplace, determined to transform the financial fortunes of borrowers in Africa by pioneering a ‘cyclic’ lending system that will provide a breath of fresh air even to potential borrowers who had previously been ‘rejected’ by lenders within Pocket Money’s ecosystem.
To address this challenge, Pocket Money has come up with a marketplace that offers a multi-layered solution that ensures that the borrower is introduced to various potential lenders, offering more alternatives that provide the likelihood of a borrower to finally access the loan in the long run.
For instance, more often than not, a borrower may approach a lender for a microloan in cash, but the application, for one reason or another, is rejected, leaving the borrower with very few, or no options at all. The dilemma for the borrower becomes a nightmare especially if he’s a traveler in some regions of the world where access to an online lender is either limited or non-existent-a dire situation that means the end of the road for the borrower.
It is such a predicament that Pocket Money, which is now committed to officially stamp its footprint in Africa, is set to inhibit by developing a global marketplace in which the rejected loan applications are circulated and resubmitted to licensed lenders all over the world with a view to providing them with another chance of accessing the loan. Pocket Money’s ultimate aim is to make this technology available to everyone so that the echo of financial inclusion can resonate in every corner of the world, irrespective of geographic location. By doing so, it has created a marketplace for financial services that brings together financial service providers, customers, and investors into a single global stage.
According to CEO and Co-Founder of Pocket Money, Stefano Virgili, the new marketplace seeks to expand Africa’s financial ecosystem to have a real impact on financial inclusion on the continent.
“Through this unique system that links an array of potential lenders to borrowers, we are able to create a larger pool of clients who will in essence provide revenue sharing with lending businesses located across the world while the borrowers can connect with lenders around the world, breaking the barriers that prevented them from borrowing money from a competitive global marketplace”, says Stefano.
“Conversely”, adds, Stefano, “tech partners can connect to Pocket Money network and develop apps to integrate with fintech solutions while investors can participate in the Pocket Money fundraising as well as the backing of new loans”.
Stefano laments the challenges faced by borrowers in Africa including not having a credit history, therefore, rendering credit scoring almost impossible, loan application rejection partly due to the above or other criteria deficiencies, interests on loans that are prohibitively high, not having enough funds to repay loans, and not being able to borrow from someone abroad, while some lenders face the challenge of running out of cash to service borrowers.
“Pocket Money, therefore, offers solutions to these challenges by innovatively using technology, expanding the financial marketplace and strategic social engagement that reduces the risk of default. These solutions include creating a unique socially enabled Pocket Money Credit Profile that addresses the challenges of credit scoring which is a common criterion used to access borrowers’ repayment risk”, he adds.
Through the new technology, a borrower’s application is circulated through other lenders globally to increase the likelihood of getting a loan. The system ensures that the lender who wins the bid is the one offering the lowest interest, enabling borrowers to have access to competitive repayment rates.
The system, a new fintech technological phenomenon in Africa, is destined to be sweet music to borrowers in Africa for it will significantly attract and increase more aspiring borrowers, thus fostering financial inclusion on the continent.
Suffice it to say, Pocket Money is the easiest way to gain access to credit when rejected by a lender. However, lenders may also face the challenges that include risky borrowers’ profile which might expose financial service providers to uncertainty, unavailability of borrowers in certain markets and the risk posed by manual processes which might have an impact on time and quality of records.
These risks are nevertheless, mitigated by Pocket Money Credit Profile that provides hundreds of data points that give lenders a better risk analysis assessment. Through the marketplace too, lenders can bid on rejected applications anywhere in the world, ensuring there is no scarcity of potential borrowers.
Stefano explains that the Pocket Money ecosystem encompasses a strategic social engagement platform that enables participation with friends and families in surveys and micro tasks to earn loan credits that are particularly beneficial to cooperatives and groups like savings and credit societies as well as informal saving groups at places of work or among friends.
“Further, forex exchange rates in real-time used in this marketplace also facilitate a multi-currency wallet that allows sending money around the world in local currencies. This tool does not only service borrowers and lenders but also serves remittance payments in emerging economies”, says Stefano “in fact, it protects lenders by settling all the B2B transactions in USD.”
He adds that the marketplace is a multi-faceted platform that incorporates simple and intuitive lender dashboard developed by Pocket Money allowing for efficiency in saving processing time and ease of access to borrowers wherever they may be.
The marketplace also supports licensed lenders to ensure their sustainability by supporting some of their cash flow and liquidity challenges through loans made directly to borrowers, provision of third-party lenders and borrowers who use Pocket Money tools and borrowing money at low-interest rates and lending out at slightly higher rates for the service provided.
With Pocket Money, borrowers with high default risks are supported in paying back loans through social repay.
Depending on the country’s availability, Pocket Money users, whether they have borrowed or not, might receive micro-tasks, such as verifying that a billboard contains the poster that the advertiser has paid for, answering a survey, etc.
Such micro-tasks are paid for by brands through existing third-party apps. Each app might reward in a different digital currency, like Smiles for example. The currency can then be used in Pocket Money wallet to purchase USD vouchers that can be gifted to borrowers (i.e. family and friends) or purchased to offset your own loan.
All in All, Pocket Money not only benefits lenders, borrowers and investors; it also helps borrowers to pay back their loans through the use of innovative interoperability payment systems.
The marketplace uses today’s technology in a way that allows individual components of the financial services ecosystem to be open and connected to each other in such a way that was not possible before, creating solutions that are greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Partner lenders such as banks, financial services providers, telecommunication companies and governments who can act as underwriters for loan services will have an opportunity to operate in this marketplace with the advantage of having a larger market of customers locally, regionally and internationally.
Currently domiciled in Singapore, Pocket Money is now set on establishing its footprints in Africa, trailblazing what is destined to be a unique credit-lending marketplace that will undoubtedly transform the continent’s lending sub-sector.
Diaspora investments: A must for the development of Africa
Image Source: rupixen.com
It has been three years since his Excellency president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana shared some controversial thoughts on Africa’s dependence on aid or support from Europe in a decades long effort to develop the continent.
He was applauded for his bold statement and stance, but many (especially people from the Ghanaian diaspora) thought they were only words. Words they had heard many times before, but without plans or actions backing them. This might be true from their perspective, yet for the current generation of descendants from those who have been sold into slavery, it was good to hear an African leader show some backbone.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent based on whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked, and it will not work”.
The Diaspora Is Linked To The Strength of Africa
President Nana Akufo-Addo’s views on European aid are commendable, even if we debate how much he will be able to back up his words with actions.
“The place of the Diaspora, the status of the people in the diaspora, of the African diaspora, is intimately linked with what happens on the continent. An Africa strong and performing, transforms your position, your status here in Europe”.
He was addressing diaspora members in France, but he could have been addressing all people of African descent worldwide. The fact is that his ability to back his words, not exclusively but to an important extent, is contingent on the support he as an African leader receives from the African diaspora.
Remittance Coming From The African Diaspora
As a member from the African diaspora, one might ask: “Are we not supporting enough?”
Ishmeal Lamptey (Source: unsplash.com)
According to the World Bank Sub Saharan Africa received an estimated 48 billion US dollars in remittance funds from the African diaspora in 2019.
A study by Comstock, Iannone, Bhatia published in March 2009 (yes, the phenomenon has been studied for some time now) shows most funds are spend on costs of sustenance (29%), medical costs (16%) and education (12%).
When looking at the order of precedence these costs take in relation to each other, we see that unforeseen costs come first, second are medical costs and the last are for education. This underlines what we all know. The fact that there is often a sense of emergency to these transfers.
The Need To Move From Remittance To Investment In Africa
So, to answer the question of the diaspora, if it is not doing enough…well no. Harsh isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that the remittance funds are our own version of aid to the continent. It is keeping our people our family from dying but it’s not helping with any development.
We, the African diaspora, need to make the transition from remittance to investment. Remittance will always be part of the financial flows, but when seen in relation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the diaspora, they shouldn’t dominate as they do at present.
Following the content of a few independent journalists, there is now ample proof that at least some in the diaspora are not only willing, but able to move to the continent and start new businesses. But this group is a very small minority. The vast majority will not be able to follow suit and we should not want them to.
The revenues of the use of their human capital is needed to generate the investment flows Africa needs. The challenge Sub Saharan Africa faces is that of aggregation of available funds originating from the diaspora. The funds are clearly there, the industries which need them for we’ve identified, but now we need to create a robust infrastructure to aggregate and get them to their destination.
Like we pointed out in our previous article about thinking sufficiently big; while we keep our eyes on the end goal, we might need to start building one stone at a time. From individual projects, to industries, to the whole economy.
When doing so, we need to keep in mind that Africa is a unique environment. The common instruments of capital allocation used in the world should certainly be our starting point, but not limit our imagination when pooling the diaspora funds and channeling them into the continent.
As we have admonished a few times now; Africa should think BIG. And that also applies to its diaspora. In the coming articles we will continue exploring the idea of “thinking big” in the African context. So please make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on the matter and get a discussion going with us and our other readers.
Article By: Jerrol Cambiel, Chief Executive EU Operations Debnoch Capital
North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion
North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)
North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.
The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.
The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.
“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.
The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.
“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”
Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.
Legacy Premier Foundation Congratulates New World Trade Organisation (WTO) Head Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala © AFP via Getty Images
The entire team at Legacy Premier Foundation hereby congratulates Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the new chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
With a proud heart and jubilation, we salute our quintessential woman of many feats on this global call to service.
This is a perfect example of a narrative that says “when opportunity meets preparedness success is inevitable”. Madam Director, you are an epitome of this simple quote. Over the years, you’ve carefully built a track record of competence with your records very visible in the public domain.
We are very pleased to send our warmest congratulations on your appointment as the seventh (7th) Director General of the foremost World Trade Organization, also making history as the first African and female to hold this prestigious position.
At this time where the world is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic, with a gradual return to normalcy, there are still some undulating terrains in the global trade landscape. We believe with you at the helm of affairs coupled with 25 years of diplomatic dealings and demonstrated leadership as a World Bank executive, you will saddle the affairs of the WTO and the entire global trade economy through these sensitive times.
We wish you much success in your new post and we look forward to the pleasure of working with you, in the place of making our African continent prominent in the scheme of world trades, and much more rejuvenation of hope that an African has all it takes to get to the zenith of his or her career without any equivocation.
We wish you a resounding success with legendary actions for global impact.
Signed: Dr Remi Duyile, Former VP, Bank of America and Founder, Legacy Premier Foundation
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