Nigeria remains a large cash-strapped country. There are about 100 million Nigerian adults, more than half of whom have little or no access to financial services. Today, Bankly, Nigerian fintech startup Standup Cash as Cash Digitizing for Cashless Citizens announced that it has closed the $2 million seed round. Founded in 2018 by Tomilola Adejana and Frederick Adams, Bankly is digitizing the informal development collection system known by various names in Nigeria as esusu or ajo.
In the absence of a nearby banking system or neglected for anyone, resort to the traditional theatrical systems that are banned because they work completely offline. The system allows them to deposit and store cash with a thrift collector responsible for disbursing funds when deposited. However, there are problems around this system. The first is the safety issues when the enthusiastic collector goes missing with money or is in danger of dying, leaving no trace of where the savings are kept. There is also limited access where members cannot save consistently if absent from a specific location.
The third is the lack of customer information, as most do not have an online banking presence. What Bankly has done is digitize the whole process of collecting their money and allow these banned individuals to save using online and offline methods. For the past 18 months, the company has been building its distribution and agent network. Here, customers can deposit and withdraw cash with the banking agent at any time.
This solves the problem of access, as there are thousands of agents in these cash-dependent communities. When this new set of customer information collected and stored on its platform, Bankly begins to create attractive communities where these people can collectively save their income with agents. Gradually, an online banking presence created for them.
They often prefer to access these services online through their mobile phones as the bank has most of their money and cash or little cash to buy or pay for airtime. Running this new set of customers means they will save and transact more over time. It opens up access to credit and creates more value; there is a new set of bankers, leading to long-term financial inclusion.