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Jiji raises $21M for its Africa online classifieds business

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Pan-African digital classifieds company Jiji has raised $21 million in Series C and C-1 financing from six investors, led by Knuru Capital.

The Nigeria-based venture, co-founded by Ukrainian entrepreneur Vladimir Mnogoletniy, has an East to West presence that includes Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Buyers and sellers in those markets use Jiji to transact purchases from real estate to car sales.

“We are the largest marketplace in Africa where people can sell pretty much anything…We are like a combination of eBay and Craigslist for Africa,” Mnogoletniy told TechCrunch on a call.

The classifieds site has two million listings on its Africa platforms and hit eight million unique monthly users in 2018, per company stats.

Jiji sees an addressable market of 400 million people across its operating countries, according to Mnogoletniy. The venture bought up one of its competitors in April this year, when it acquired the assets of Naspers-owned online marketplace OLX in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Jiji’s top three categories for revenues and listings (in order) are vehicle sales, real estate and electronics sales (namely mobile phones).

With the recent funding, the company’s total capital raised from 2014 to 2019 comes to $50 million. Knuru Capital CEO Alain Dib confirmed the Abu Dhabi-based fund’s lead on Jiji’s most recent round.

Jiji plans to use the latest investment toward initiatives to increase the overall number of buyers, sellers and transactions on its site. The company will also upgrade the platform to create more listings and faster matching in the area of real estate, according to Mnogoletniy.

For the moment, Jiji doesn’t have plans for country expansion or company purchases. “Maybe at some point we will consider more acquisitions, but for the time being we’d like to focus on those five markets,” Mnogoletniy said — referring to Jiji’s existing African country presence.

To ensure the quality of listings, particularly in real-estate, Jiji employs an automated and manual verification process. “We were able to eliminate a high-percentage of fraud listings and estimate fraud listings at less than 1%,” said Mnogoletniy.

He recognized the challenge of online scams originating in Nigeria. “We take data protection very seriously. We have a data-control officer just to do the data-protection verification.”

With the large consumer base and volume of transactional activity on its platform, Jiji could layer on services, such as finance and payments.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about adding segments other than our main business. We decided that for the next three to five years, we should be laser-focused on our core business — to be the largest marketplace in Africa for buying and selling to over 400 million people,” Mnogoletniy said.

The company faces an improving commercial environment for its goals, with Africa registering some of the fastest growth in the world for smartphone adoption and internet penetration.

Jiji also faces competitors in Africa’s growing online classifieds space.

Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia, which listed in April in an NYSE IPO, operates its Jumia Deals digital marketplace site in multiple African countries.

Swiss-owned Ringier Africa has classified services and business content sites in eight French and English-speaking countries. On car sales, Nigerian startup Cars45 has created an online marketplace for pricing, rating and selling used autos. 

Adding to the trend of foreign-backed ventures entering Africa’s internet business space, Chinese-owned Opera launched an online buy/sell site, OList, last month connected to its African payment app, OPay.

And eBay operates a partnership with Mall for Africa for limited goods sales from Africa to the U.S., but hasn’t gone live yet on the continent.

On outpacing rivals in its markets, Jiji’s co-founder Mnogoletniy touts the company’s total focus on the classifieds business, market experience and capital as advantages.

“We’ve spent five years and raised $50 million to build Jiji to where it is today. It would take $50 to $100 million for these others to have a chance at building a similar business,” he said.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/09/jiji-raises-21m-for-its-africa-online-classifieds-business/

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Is Smart Data Fabric the Approach Financial Institutions Have Been Dreaming About?

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This is a sponsored post in collaboration with InterSystems, Gold Sponsors of FinovateSpring, and Monica Summerville, head of capital markets, Celent, a division of Oliver Wyman.


Financial institutions and data have had a love-hate relationship for many years.

On the one hand FIs and data are a match made in heaven. It is a symbiotic relationship where business functions create and consume data over and over until the result exceeds the sum of the parts. Ideally this partnering results in revenue or alpha-producing insights. On the other hand, siloed, unreliable or simply too much data creates frustration and risk as the business potential is teased, but ultimately unattainable as FIs struggle to extract value from their data (see figure 1).

Business use cases for leveraging data across financial services are plentiful, from management reporting, enterprise risk, liquidity and treasury management, and more recently, driving innovative customer experiences. More specifically within capital markets and banking, trends such as the embracing of multi-asset trading or the desire to simplify architectures have triggered a rethink of data approaches. There is also, now more than ever, the desire for cost savings – equally important to FIs whose margins are increasingly coming under pressure from increased regulation and competitive factors. Indeed, research by Oliver Wyman and Morgan Stanley found that the benefits from having clean, consistent, and automated data management could be a two-to-four percent reduction of infrastructure and control costs. When IT spend ranges into the billions of dollars, as is the case with larger FIs, every percentage point of savings is a big win.

No wonder then that cracking the data management challenge has long been considered the perfect marriage of technology achievement and business function. FIs have made repeated attempts and invested hundreds of millions of dollars through the years to get this right. From simple relational databases storing structured data, to data warehouses and more recently data lakes capable of holding all types of data, there has been no shortage of excitement that maybe (whisper it) this latest approach could be “the one.” Heartbreaks inevitably followed as the heady days of getting to know new technologies turn into frustrations and recriminations. A pristine data lake becomes a swamp.

The latest research by Celent discovered that leading FIs including Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and RBC, to name a few, have lately been getting serious with a new data management approach called Smart Data Fabric. As these entities move from a process- to platform-driven organisation, their business focus has shifted to ensuring the best customer experience possible. This shift however requires mastering and leveraging data to generate insights at an enterprise level. The reality is that a history of disjointed business expansion common to financial services, means data is siloed across numerous platforms, tuned for very different use cases. There are multiple “single sources of truth,” and these vary depending on whose truth you are seeking.  

The right data management approach should empower FIs to become better versions of themselves, without fundamentally changing who they are. Unlike previous data management architectures, Smart Data Fabrics offer centralized access and a single unified view of data across the organization. Crucially, Data Fabrics do not require that copies of the data be created and stored outside its original location, so can offer a useful bridging solution between modern and legacy systems – the latter often holding the most business crucial data. In this way Data Fabrics can also avoid the creation of more data silos, which is especially important as FIs increasingly embrace cloud. A Data Fabric becomes “Smart” when it inherently supports advanced data analytics and aims to future-proof data management (see Figure 2).

Financial institutions, from asset managers to banks and brokers, have always known that they need to become smarter about data. Business end-users and clients are demanding better user experiences, targeted insights, and increased access to analytic capabilities which requires free access to accurate and harmonized data drawn from disparate sources across the entire enterprise. At the very core of modernization is the ability to innovate at scale, and this relies on freer access to data. Celent’s latest research report sponsored by InterSystems found that the business necessities and benefits of better data management is driving adoption of Smart Data Fabrics. This time it might just be for real. Read the full report here >>

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Source: https://finovate.com/is-smart-data-fabric-the-approach-financial-institutions-have-been-dreaming-about/

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Big Data

How Big Data impacts the finance and banking industries

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Nowadays, terms like ‘Data Analytics,’ ‘Data Visualization,’ and ‘Big Data’ have become quite popular. These terms are fundamentally tied preidominantly to matters involving digital transformation as well as growth in companies. In this modern age, each business entity is driven by data. Data analytics are now very crucial whenever there is a decision-making process involved.

Through this tool, gaining better insight has become much easier now. It doesn’t matter whether the decision being considered has huge or minimal impact; businesses have to ensure they can access the right data to move forward. Typically, this approach is essential, especially for the banking and finance sector in today’s world.

The Role of Big Data

Financial institutions such as banks have to adhere to such a practice, especially when laying the foundation for back-test trading strategies. They have to utilize Big Data to its full potential to stay in line with their specific security protocols and requirements. Banking institutions actively use the data within their reach in a bid to keep their customers happy. By doing so, these institutions can limit fraud cases and prevent any complications in the future.

Some prominent banking institutions have gone the extra mile and introduced software to analyze every document while recording any crucial information that these documents may carry. Right now, Big Data tools are continuously being incorporated in the finance and banking sector.

Through this development, numerous significant strides are being made, especially in the realm of banking. Big Data is taking a crucial role, especially in streamlining financial services everywhere in the world today. The value that Big Data brings with it is unrivaled, and, in this article, we will see how this brings forth positive results in the banking and finance world.

The Underlying Concept

A 2013 survey conducted by the IBM’s Institute of Business Value and the University of Oxford showed that 71% of the financial service firms had already adopted analytics and big data. Financial and banking industries worldwide are now exploring new and intriguing techniques through which they can smoothly incorporate big data analytics in their systems for optimal results.

Big data has numerous perks relating to the financial and banking industries. With the ever-changing nature of digital tech, information has become crucial, and these sectors are working diligently to take up and adjust to this transformation. There is significant competition in the industry, and emerging tactics and strategies must be accepted to survive the market competition. Using big data, firms can boost the quality and standards of their services.

Perks Associated with Big Data

Analytics and big data play a critical role when it comes to the financial industry. Firms are currently developing efficient strategies that can woo and retain clients. Financial and banking corporations are learning how to balance Big Data with their services to boost profits and sales. Banks have improved their current data trends and automated routine tasks. Here are a few of the advantages of Big Data in the banking and financial industry:

Improvement in risk management operations

Big Data can efficiently enhance the ways firms utilize predictive models in the risk management discipline. It improves the response timeline in the system and consequently boosts efficiency. Big Data provides financial and banking organizations with better risk coverage. Thanks to automation, the process has become more efficient.Through Big Data, groups concerned with risk management offer accurate intelligence insights linked to risk management.

Engaging the Workforce

Among the most significant perks of Big Data in banking firms is worker engagement. The working experience in the organization is considerably better. Nonetheless, companies and banks that handle financial services need to realize that Big Data must be appropriately implemented. It can come in handy when tracking, analyzing, and sharing metrics connected with employee performance. Big Data aids financial and banking service firms in identifying the top performers in the corporation.

Client Data Accessibility

Companies can find out more regarding their clients through Big Data. Excellent customer service implies outstanding employee performance. Aside from designing numerous tech solutions, data professionals will assist the firm set performance indicators in a project. It will aid in injective analytic expertise in multiple organizational areas. Whenever there is a better process, the work processes are streamlined. The banking and financial firms can leverage improved insights and knowledge of customer service and operational needs.

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Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/how-big-data-impacts-the-finance-and-banking-industries-2/

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AI

Financial wellbeing app ilumoni raises €1.3 million to help people borrow money better

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ilumoni, the startup app that aims to help people borrow well, has raised around 1.3 million in an over-subscribed seed funding round after successfully launching in Beta earlier this year. 

Founded in 2019, the purpose-led, AI-driven fintech had previously raised approx. 528K in pre-seed funding, which saw the initial build of the first version of the app. The app went on to receive full FCA authorisation in January of 2021 and has already attracted its first beta users.

The free-to-use app helps people understand and manage how to borrow money better. ilumoni delivers rich, personal insights into how users borrow and repay, with full visibility of what they owe, including how long it will take to repay and how much their borrowing will cost in interest. This is combined with prompts and future scenarios that users can interact with to find repayment amounts or alternative products that cost less in interest, help pay balances sooner, or free up cash.

The latest round of investment was over-subscribed, despite two increases, and has attracted an additional 20 plus angel investors to the business. The new funding will take the product to market and beyond, with general App and Play Store release planned for later in the year

In addition to the funding, UK-based ilumoni has appointed two Non-Executive Directors to its board, new investor James Eden and existing investor Simon Moran.

Eden commented: “While there are many emerging tools that champion consumers’ financial degrees of freedom, there aren’t any that provide an independent view of borrowing and debt, despite the impact it can have on people’s financial and mental wellbeing. The purpose behind ilumoni, level of innovation and credentials of the team were more than enough to convince me this was an investment worth making. So much so that I am delighted also to be joining the board.”

Ilumoni CEO, Gary Wigglesworth, added: “We’re thrilled to have such a ringing endorsement of ilumoni with an over-subscribed funding round. There is a huge opportunity to help people to borrow well and it’s more important now than ever.”

Wigglesworth continued: “Many borrowers need to manage their debt better, yet there is very little help available until they’re faced with formal debt management, such as IVAs. As with anything, prevention is better than cure, and we believe in better borrowing for everyone. ilumoni provides a tool that not only demystifies borrowing but provides practical ways to relieve the stress of debt and reduce how much it costs. We can’t wait to show people how, very often, small changes can make a big difference, and encourage them to borrow well.”

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Source: https://www.eu-startups.com/2021/05/financial-wellbeing-app-ilumoni-raises-e1-3-million-to-help-people-borrow-money-better/

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Vietnamese flexible pay startup Nano raises $3M seed round

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Nano Technologies, a startup that lets workers in Vietnam access their earned wages immediately through an app called VUI, has raised $3 million in seed funding. The oversubscribed round was led by returning investors Golden Gate Ventures and Venturra Discovery, and included participation from FEBE Ventures, Openspace Ventures and Goodwater Capital.

Nano recently took part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program. Golden Gate Ventures and Venturra Discovery both participated in its pre-seed funding. The startup was founded at the beginning of 2020 by Dzung Dang, formerly a general manager at Uber and chief executive officer of ZaloPay, and Thang Nguyen, who previously served as chief technology officer at Focal Labs and SeeSpace.

VUI launched six months ago, and now serves more than 20,000 employees from companies like GS25, LanChi Mart and Annam Gourmet. Nano Technologies claims that about 50% to 60% of employees sign up for VUI as soon as their employers offer it, and use the service about three times every month to withdraw their earned wages.

Nano’s earned wage access features can be used by employers of all sizes, in all sectors, to offer flexible pay to their employees, but its focus is currently on retail, food and beverage, and manufacturing, especially for textiles, garments and shoes. The startup says companies in these sectors have seen recruitment costs increase, while worker retention drops. This is in part because many people are opting for gig economy jobs, like ride-sharing, where their earning are automatically deposited into their digital wallets or bank accounts.

Nano usually fronts wage advances, and then is paid back back by employers on their paydays through payroll deduction. Employers who have higher liquidity can also front wages through their own balance sheets. VUI is usually offered by employers as a benefit, and they can opt to cover fees, have their workers pay fees or use a co-pay model.

Nano is among a crop of companies across the world that offer earned wage access, meant to help companies retain workers by letting them withdraw earnings whenever they want, instead of waiting until payday. In Southeast Asia, this also includes GajiGesa in Indonesia. In the rest of the world, other companies that offer similar services include Square, London-based Wagestream and Gusto). Nano’s plan is to continue focusing on Vietnam, and develop new products for employers, including tools for managing staff and engagement.

In a press statement, Chi Phan, the CEO of LanChi Mart, a subsidiary of Central Retail with about 2,000 employees, said “On-demand salary via VUI is an obvious idea and practical HR initiative that LanChi team is pleased to roll out to our employees as a new voluntary benefit. VUI provides a much-needed financial lifeline from LanChi to our employees, keeping the employee morale up during the COVID-19 pandemic and reducing attrition rites post-Tet.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/13/vietnamese-flexible-pay-startup-nano-raises-3m-seed-round/

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