South Africa’s Standard Bank has taken a stake in local fintech firm, Nomanini, to offer credit to potentially millions of small shop owners and other informal retailers across Africa that have limited access to banking services.
Africa’s biggest bank by assets has invested $4 million in Nomanini, which connects informal merchants with distributors via an e-wallet, and aims to roll the service out across 14 African countries by early 2021.
Nine out of 10 retail transactions in Africa are conducted in cash or via informal channels like kiosks and open-air markets, according to a 2017 report by audit firm Deloitte.
Using Nomanini technology, Standard Bank will collect and analyse data on the retailers. Adrian Vermooten, Standard Bank’s head of digital in Africa regions, said data on just one primary product line, such as pre-paid airtime, was enough to proxy the risk associated to that shop, build up a financial profile and understand its ordering patterns.
This will allow the bank to pre-empt the trader’s re-stocking needs and send them alerts offering to arrange and underwrite its next order, for instance.
This could be done via Nomanini or Standard Bank devices supplied to the traders or by leveraging other existing networks or devices from third parties – whatever fits best in each market.
Vermooten pointed to tens of thousands of informal traders who currently act as mobile money agents in African countries.
“Those are all small little businesses that we find really attractive,” he said.
At a later stage, the bank will look to help those retailers offer financial services, like cash deposits and withdrawals, to their customers.
Vahid Monadjem, founder and CEO of Nomanini, said even just 100,000 retailers could reach between 50 million and 150 million people.