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Mines Secures $13M Series A to Grow Digital Credit Platform for Emerging Markets

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Mines, a fintech startup re-inventing credit in emerging markets, has closed a Series A round of $13M led by The Rise Fund, a global fund managed by TPG Growth.

Also participating are Velocity Capital, WesternTechnology Investments, First Ally Capital, X/Seed Capital, NYCA Partners, Persistent Capital, Singularity Investments, Trans Sahara Investments, and the Bank of Industry.

Mines plans to use its investment for talent acquisition, continued growth in Africa, and expansion to South America and South-East Asia.

Mines provides a Credit-as-a-Service digital platform that enables institutions in emerging markets to offer credit products to their customers; no smartphone is required.

Leveraging their own data sets, domestic institutions are able to serve loans to customers ignored by available credit systems and open up entirely new revenue opportunities.

“There are more than 3 billion adults globally without access to credit. Our vision is that every one of them will have instant access to credit in the next 10 years. We believe the best way to realize this vision is to partner with banks, retailers and mobile operators and power digital credit products tailored to their markets so they can create the customers of tomorrow, today,” explains Ekechi Nwokah, Mines CEO.

By mining high-volume data like phone records, bank records, and payment transactions in real-time, Mines can instantly assess credit risk in markets that lack robust credit bureau infrastructure.

It then integrates its risk models with identity, origination, payments, loan lifecycle management, and customer service to form a holistic platform.

The net result is a seamless user experience where partners’ customers can apply for and receive a loan in less than 60 seconds or make instant purchases with virtual or physical credit cards.

The company has hardened its proprietary technology in Nigeria where it has been used by over 1 million customers since launching in 2017.

It is now the leading provider of consumer credit in the country, counting mobile operators 9mobile and Airtel, payment processors Interswitch and NIBSS, along with several banks amongst its partners.

“What we have done differently is take Silicon Valley technology and built it into a product that is robust enough for emerging markets like Nigeria, Brazil, or Indonesia”, says Chief Scientist Kunle Olukotun. “We can extend credit to all types of customers, including customers without smartphones or even bank accounts as these are the people who need credit the most.”

As part of the financing, Yemi Lalude from TPG Growth and Willem Willemstein from Velocity Capital have joined Mines’ Board of Directors.

Lalude says, “Mines combines world-class artificial intelligence and extensive use of data with a strong focus on local partnerships to build financial inclusion. We are excited to partner with them to drive financial access across the world.”

Mines started out as a research project on high performance artificial intelligence led by Olukotun, a professor of computer engineering at Stanford University.

It came to life after a chance meeting with Nwokah, a computer scientist working on big data projects at Amazon Web Services, after which they teamed up to direct the technology towards solving the grand challenge of financial access.

Both founders grew up in Africa and understand the challenges facing technology companies trying to solve problems in emerging markets without a deep respect for the complexities of local culture, knowing they need to take a different approach.

They have been joined by VP Commercial Adia Sowho, who has successfully scaled several digital financial services at one of Nigeria’s largest mobile operators, to grow the business.

Sowho says “Scaling a digital product in Africa requires a deep understanding of two things – distribution and partnerships.

“In Nigeria, Mines has demonstrated that its platform is flexible enough to enable partners with consumer reach across the income pyramid, activate a wide swath of distribution channels, from rudimentary USSD to more advanced web-based ones. We look forward to building more partnerships in Nigeria and beyond”.

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E-Financial

AfDB Blacklists Nigerian Firm, Its MD for Alleged Fraudulent Practice

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African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has announced the debarment of Lutoyilex Construct Limited, a construction company registered in Nigeria and Mr. Bamidele Obiniyi (also known as Mr. Bamidele Abayomi), its managing director, for a period of 36 months.

 

An investigation conducted by the Bank’s Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption established that Lutoyilex Construct Limited engaged in fraudulent practice while bidding for a construction contract under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase One in Nigeria (ATASP-1).

 

According to the AfDB, while participating in a tender for the construction of social infrastructure in Niger State of Nigeria, the company misrepresented its experience in conducting similar construction contracts.

 

The debarment renders the company and its Managing Director ineligible to participate in Bank-financed projects during the debarment period.

 

The debarment qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks under the Agreement for Mutual Recognition of Debarment Decisions, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group.

 

ATASP-1 is financed under the African Development Fund administered by the African Development Bank Group.

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Man Allegedly Hacks into Wema Bank Account, Steals N4m

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Nonso Okereke, a 29-year-old man has been being arraigned before an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court in Lagos for allegedly hacking into a Wema Bank account and stealing N4 million.

 

Okereke, allegedly committed the offence in connivance with Emeka Onumba, 36-year-old man.

 

Inspector Ingobo Emby, the police prosecutor, who brought the suspects before Magistrate A.O. Alogba, claimed that the duo committed the offences sometime in January at Wema Bank headquarters, located at 54, Marina Street, Lagos Island.

 

He informed the court that the defendants hacked into an account of Wema Bank, fraudulently transferred N4 million into various accounts, and later withdrew the money and shared, which the prosecutor said contravened Sections 287 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.

 

When the charges were read to them, the suspects pleaded not guilty, while the magistrate granted them bail in the sum of N400,000 each with two sureties each in like sum who must have N500,000 in their bank accounts, with the case adjourned till July 18 for trial.

 

But as a result of the fear created by this report last week, Wema Bank has emphasised that its system was never hacked by the suspects, assuring customers that their deposits were safe.

 

“Wema Bank remains committed to protecting the funds of their customers and offering safe and secure banking services,” the financial institution said.

 

Explaining what happened, it was gathered after an investigation that the said sum was fraudulently withdrawn from the Wema Bank account of Maxwell Odoemenam without his consent by swapping the customer’s SIM card through the telecom company.

 

The SIM card swapped was due to failed controls on the part of the telecoms firm who did not carry out due diligence before allowing the SIM card swap. This is beyond the control of the bank, as they do not issue SIM card to customers, we learned.

 

The investigation further reveals that the customer had initially visited our Lawanson branch on 20/12/2018 to request for the balance in his account and when he was availed his account balance, he discovered that there was a shortfall of N20,100.00 in his balance. Further review of his statement of account revealed that the sum of N19,000 was transferred from his account via USSD platform into the account of one Amadi Promise in Union Bank, while the balance of N1,100 was used to purchase airtime recharge for his mobile line.

 

He however claimed that he did not register for USSD or any online platform with the bank thus, the transactions were fraudulent and not at his instance.

 

Upon interrogation of the customer, he explained that he had earlier visited Airtel Office to complain of network downtime on his phone number (08121730557), which he registered with the bank and he was notified by a staff of Airtel Office that someone had tampered with his SIM card, hence, he visited our Lawanson branch to request that his phone number be changed to another.

 

The staff of Lawanson branch (Wema Bank) who attended to the customer claimed that he advised the customer to allow the bank to place a debit restriction on his account to avert further fraud on it but that the customer did not agree with her but rather requested for a change of telephone number on the account because it is his business account and that he did not want any restriction on it so as not to disrupt his business.

 

Hence, restriction was not placed on his account but his profile was deactivated on the USSD platform.

 

The customer however denied the assertion that he rejected the Officer’s advice on placing a restriction on his account.

 

Unknown to the customer, after the initial N20,100 transactions, the fraudster(s) had already enrolled the customer on ALAT platform using the customer’s telephone number and other BVN details.

 

The telephone number was fraudulently swapped at the Telecommunication company which gave them access to the customer’s BVN details on NIBSS platform.

 

Upon the successful enrolment of the customer’s account on the ALAT platform, funds totalling N4,056,500.00 were fraudulently transferred to Adanna Mary Opara (N210,000.00), Okeke Favour (N100,000.00), Onumba Peter (N3,646,500.00) and Anyanwu Chinonyerem (N100,000) in Access, Union and GTBank, respectively.

 

The bank has refunded the customer with the lost funds and got the fraudsters arrested through the instrumentality of the Police to ensure substantive justice on the matter.

 

Onumba Peter, one of the fraudsters apprehended by the Police claimed that one Nonso Okereke introduced the fraud to him.

 

 

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SystemSpecs, NIBOX Ink Deal to Deepen Financial Inclusion

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SystemSpecs, the Nigerian company with interests in financial technology, designs and development of human resource management, (HRM) solutions and NIBOX, a multi-platform payment solution provider, have entered a partnership to extend financial products and services to the banked, under-banked and unbanked in the country.

 

SystemSpecs in a statement, said it would leverage NIBOX’s self-service payment terminals strategically located throughout Nigeria, and online through its innovative mobile platforms.

 

Through this partnership, it added that services such as federal and state governments’ payments, electricity recharge token, airtime and data phone top-up, cinema tickets purchase, insurance premium payment, cash transfers and other utility bills would be accessible on NIBOX touch points.

 

It added NIBOX had deployed 55 terminals in Lagos and Abuja, with plans to deploy additional 500 terminals in Lagos and Abuja by the end of 2019.

 

“We are glad to be collaborating with SystemSpecs to deliver new services to customers. Indeed, the value proposition and attainments of the Remita brand are a boost for this partnership and would ultimately be to the advantage of the end-user, who would now have improved access to various services and products across Nigeria,” Dr George Manuwuike, chief Executive officer/founder, NIBOX, said.

 

“This partnership is also in line with our aim of becoming the fastest and most convenient platform for cash payment for broad-based goods and services for public and private sectors,” Manuwuike added.

 

Commenting on the development, Demola Igbalajobi, SystemSpecs’ divisional head, Payment Gateway and Infrastructure, said, “At SystemSpecs, we understand that access to financial services is key to the development of a strong and efficient financial ecosystem, which facilitates economic growth. It is therefore a delight for us to partner with NIBOX to further bring Remita services closer to customers at their point of convenience using NIBOX touchpoints.”

 

 

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