Startups

Explaining The Rationale Behind Carbon’s Decision To Be First African Digital Lender To Build An iOS App


February 6, 2020

For what seems like the first time ever, a digital lender that is truly African has built an iOS app, thus enabling people to initiate and complete an entire loan cycle on iOS devices for the first time ever.

Yes, it appears Carbon — the Nigerian fintech company that has become some sort of digital challenger bank by offering a rich collection of digital financial services — has scored another first.

Founded by sibling duo Chijioke Dozie and Ngozi Dozie as a digital lending platform, Paylater in 2014, before a rebranding effort saw it take up a new identity as Carbon last year, the startup is known to have been at the vanguard of the development of instant digital lending in Nigeria.

Besides pioneering instant lending in Nigeria. Carbon also claims to have been the first mobile app that provided access to credit digitally and without requesting individuals to present the documents and collateral traditionally associated with accessing loans.

Until now, the startup has provided its services via only an Android app, which is not unheard given that most popular African lending platforms tend to build apps exclusively for Android possibly due to the dominance of Google’s Android in these parts and in order to sell their products to a certain “best-suited” demographic.

But it seems Carbon has opted to take things to another level by treading what seems like uncharted territory by releasing an iOS version for its app.

With the new iOS app, as with the existing Android app, individuals can access instant loans in minutes. All that is required is a mobile phone, data connection and a means of identification.

Carbon will be looking to further drive financial inclusion with the new move.

However, it seems a rather curious move given that most African digital lending platforms steer clear of building apps for iOS because of the relatively small market size, Apple’s unshakeable stance on user data privacy, and the fact it’s hard to think of anyone in possession of such high-end devices as underbanked or unbanked.

Be that as it may, a recent Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) report suggests that more than one in three Nigerian adults (37 percent/36.6 million) are financially excluded, with 40 percent (14.9 million) of the excluded having no access to a financial institution at all.

With smartphone adoption predicted to quadruple (from 36 million to 144 million) by 2025, Carbon says that the addition of an iOS app affords an excellent opportunity to provide financial services to individuals, some of whom may otherwise be unbanked or underbanked.

It is understood that Carbon opted to build the new iOS app with flexibility in mind, making it easier for customers in different markets to access the financial services they require.

“In Nigeria, for example, users can perform transactions or get loans at all 3 KYC tiers (low, medium and high value) provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” reads a part of the press release seen by WeeTracker.

“This means more people (both banked and unbanked) at every level of the market can access Carbon’s market-leading services.”

It is also understood that Carbon — which recently expanded into Kenya — will soon be adding a USSD channel in the coming months, possibly with a view to capturing Africa’s significant feature phone user base.

According to Chijioke Dozie, CEO and co-founder of Carbon, “We are really excited to add consumers on the Apple ecosystem to our network and we have channeled a lot of the learnings and user insights from the last four years on Android into this app. As we establish ourselves as a Pan-African digital bank, we want to go everywhere with our customers and be innovative and versatile enough to fulfill their needs.”

Carbon is known to empower individuals and businesses across Africa with access to credit, simple payment solutions, high-yield investment opportunities and easy-to-use tools for personal finance management.

Since launching in 2016, Carbon claims to have amassed 2.1 million users and disbursed more than USD 120 Mn in instant loans.

The new iOS app can be downloaded via Apple’s App Store and will initially be available in Nigeria before it is rolled out in Kenya and other markets as Carbon expands.

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