Mobile-Lending.com, a Rotterdam based fintech startup that assesses creditworthiness using smartphone data, has announced a new partnership with the Dutch Business Tycoon Pieter Vermeer. (Source of Wealth: Family-owned listed company Dura Vermeer Group NV).
With billions of potential customers in developing countries Mobile-Lending is working to expand access to credit in countries where the average middle class borrower might not have a credit history or even a bank account. Mobile-Lending makes small personal and commercial loans to people in sub-Saharan African countries via their Android phones. Bjorn de Jong, Mobile-Lending’s co-founder and Head of expansion, says he got his inspiration for Mobile-Lending in part from the success of M-Pesa, a mobile money service that launched in Kenya more than a decade ago.
Easy access to credit helps create room for small businesses to grow. De Jong says a typical Mobile-Lending borrower does the following: “They take a $20 loan, go to the market for supplies to make meals at their restaurant to sell to their clients and make a profit, then two months later they paid back the loan and they do it again requesting a $30 loan.” With a loan from Mobile-Lending, a merchant might be able to invest incsupplemental stock and a taxi driver might be able to gas up his car in advance of payday.
De Jong is also a founder of the Charity organisation 168 Million, and says his time at the nonprofit helped him see the need for the product Mobile-Lending is offering. “I spent years travelling to developing countries helping people that lived in remote areas, I knew that this was a group that nobody wasn’t serving.” he says.
After a potential borrower downloads the app and verifies their identity, Mobile-Lending’s machine learning algorithms determines their creditworthiness and can grant loan approval within minutes. Loan durations range from a few weeks to more than a year, and the typical loan amount hovers around $20. “As we look at the future, we are looking for an opportunity to reach people who are outside of the formal economy or in places that are underserved, but have enormous potential” says Rien Kornegoor, Mobile-lending’s CEO. Mobile-Lending plans to use this new partnership to continue to raise in a series A funding, to serve more and more underserved people.
What investors and partners, such as Pieter Vermeer, like even more is that Mobile-Lending — which holds offices Rotterdam and Kampala — was profitable before taking on new funding and partnership. The company is also growing 10 to 15 per cent month over month.
“There is ample demand for small-scale loans even at high interest rates,” says Professor Jonathan Morduch, who studies microfinance and social impact at New York University. “If the algorithms can cut costs adequately, then it is highly be profitable and stable.”