Fintech Digest. African heat, identification methods and cryptocrollers

    When we say “fintech”, we somehow immediately imagine a clean, spacious office, people in expensive clothes, beautiful computers on comfortable desks ... But imagine wild heat, desert, lack of water and electricity. At the same time, fintech is the most real. And the turnover of half a billion dollars a year. This case is described in an interview on the Fintech Futures portal.

    Microcredit organization Letshego operates in 11 countries of Africa. In six of them, the company has a license for basic banking services - in particular, for accepting deposits. And these are not some prosperous countries, but Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Namibia, Ghana and Rwanda, where until recently they were building communism, they were organizing military coups, they simply could not end the civil war for decades. As you might guess, the population does not live well, the infrastructure is poorly developed, but there is a need for financial services. Banks, however, prefer to serve relatively wealthy citizens (the penetration of banking services in Africa, depending on the country, ranges from 5 to 25%), leaving tens of millions of less successful Africans to the share of Letshego and her colleagues.

    The amounts that the organization gives are not so small - the range from 500 to 60,000 US dollars is announced. Moreover, loan recipients are not only individuals, but also local businesses that find it difficult to find understanding with banks.

    Letshego has no offices, and all work goes through agents. And here begins the hardcore fintech. Suppose that each agent has a tablet and a smartphone with preinstalled software, you will not surprise us. But the software is written in such a way as to minimize transmitted data. The fact is that in these countries, the mobile Internet leaves much to be desired, and GPRS (not EDGE) is still for happiness. Two optimization methods are used: sending data in parts during the process of filling out forms and archiving each of the parts. All information is sent in encrypted form.

    Each agent also receives a mobile solar battery. It serves not only for charging working gadgets, but also for paid (!) Recharging of customers' phones. After all, electricity in homes and, hmm, customer offices is not always there. It is emphasized that this is a source of additional income for agents (and we can imagine how much they earn on commissions).

    When registering with the system, each client leaves fingerprints using a portable scanner connected to the agent’s smartphone. Each transaction is completed by printing a check, which also contains the signature of the recipient of funds, previously depicted on the screen of a smartphone or tablet.

    Customer data is not stored with agents; after the transaction is completed, it is sent to the company's servers. There they do not lie dead weight. A continuous analysis of debt servicing is ongoing to improve the performance of the scoring system. Obviously, the concept of a “good customer” in Africa is somewhat different, and a person without an official job and banking history, living in a hut, can in practice be very solvent and responsible. Or not to be. This is what algorithms should guess.

    Unfortunately, the interview does not talk about debt collection mechanisms. Most likely, there are many nuances that I don’t want to remember in public. But still, half a billion dollars is an impressive turnaround, and if the company has been doing this for 20 years, then profitability is sufficient. It is not for nothing that some fintech startups with Russian roots drop into the African market.

    The stewardess is back in business!

    A few years ago, a wave of start-ups swept around the world, offering a new way of identification - a person was guessed by how he types the password. Then they said that this is a unique thing, no worse than fingerprints - the force of pressing, pause between characters, speed, etc. But in the end, the startups that promoted this did not take off. No one. The error remained too high to entrust anything serious to this method.

    At the Mobile World Congress, I came across Aware with a Knomi product that recognizes a person just by pressing a key. The main product, by the way, came to the exhibition with him. Yes, and stood at the FIDO booth. No, this is not our FIDO who has died in Bose, but a very serious organization, which includes all the major banks and IT corporations, from Visa to Samsung. FIDO deals with issues of simplicity and reliability of user identification (details at ), creating standards as a 3GPP consortium in the field of communications.

    Grandfather stood with a kind smile at the Aware booth. As it turned out later, all his life he has been selling secret equipment to state bodies. If he doesn’t deceive, then personally during the time of his work at the FSB, Polkovniku Putinu sold the right equipment to Siemens. And obviously not a washing machine. So, grandfather said, with one keystroke, you really won’t understand anything. It is not possible to achieve a 100 percent result. However, in combination with the picture from the camera, even the inferior one, what identification accuracy is needed. It can be used in the most critical areas.

    You can, of course, ask - what’s the point of making such a designer when there’s already nothing to do, from fingerprint scanners to dual video modules shooting in 3D? As we have already found out today, the world lives very differently. Someone has an iPhone X with 256 gigabytes on board, while someone else has no electricity in the hut. 2 billion people on our planet have never been to banks. But financial services are needed even by the very poor, and where services are, there is identification. And if there is a way to provide it with a computer, say, 15 years ago, equipped with no less than an ancient webcam, this is a very useful technology. And she will find a buyer.

    And about crypt

    On Wednesday, two news came almost synchronously. Firstly, in June, Google will prohibit the promotion of everything related to ICOs, cryptocurrencies and exchanges where these currencies are exchanged. This is motivated by the fact that in this area the level of fraud is too high, it is impossible to distinguish good from evil, and therefore Google does not want to be substituted. And Xiaomi released a kind of cryptocurrency surrogate called CryptoBunnies (Crypto Rabbits).

    Images of fictional animals are stored on the blockchain (it is not clear yet - public or private) and go on sale once a day in a limited amount. Everything seems to be innocent, and it is officially forbidden to profit from animals (Chinese laws are harsh), but there are always options. Characteristically, the first batch of Crypto Rabbits was sold out in just an hour.

    So very timely Google introduces this ban, and even CryptoMice would have reached it.

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