Nigeria’s OsusuMobile rolls out SMS savings platform

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Nigerian startup DSA has rolled out OsusuMobile, a platform that allows users to save money via SMS, aimed at helping the unbanked access financial services and increase their creditworthiness.

OsusuMobile allows people save money more conveniently, using only an SMS-enabled phone and a local agent.

All a user requires to open an account is a mobile phone number, after which they can start saving with an agent near them. Co-founder Rodney Jackson-Cole told Disrupt Africa the platform was built based on the traditional African collective saving model.

“The concept of building a community of trusted users that individually or in groups make contributions to build credit and possibly access loans to start businesses or carter to other personal needs,” he said.

“What we decided to do was learn from this existing saving model and digitalise it. Making it more secure, affordable, and convenient with a familiar technology – SMS. We get to build a wider trusted community.”

DSA began working on OsusuMobile in February, and has reached out to experts in the financial space in Nigeria and abroad for advice and guidance with operations and regulations. It is now building its network of agents.

Jackson-Cole said the startup was focused on the unbanked and underbanked, which he said was a big market.

“Close to 39 million adults are unbanked in Nigeria. A whopping 326 million adults are unbanked in Africa. That’s a lot of people who are either currently saving money the traditional and tiresome way or not even saving at all,” he said.

“They are off the radar, they can’t build strong creditworthiness to obtain loans to kick off businesses and other ventures. This is a huge market with opportunities not just for us, but for more fintech startups to tap into while making financial services affordable and accessible.”

OsusuMobile is funded internally by DSA, and is currently focused on expansion within Nigeria. Jackson-Cole said the team was in talks with financial partners to expand to francophone states in West Africa next year.

The startup also plans to expand its services beyond savings.

“We plan to introduce loans, fund transfers and possibly payments. We are in this for the long haul and also plan to harness the power of data to capture and offer value to our users and partners in turn for revenue, but for now our focus is growing our user base and empowering more people to build better credit and creditworthiness,” said Jackson-Cole.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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