Kenya-based credit data marketplace CARMA, which provides lending companies with access to real-time credit data on a peer-to-peer basis through a pay-as-you-go service, has signed an agreement for an initial launch in Zambia ahead of a full continental rollout.
CARMA describes itself as the world’s first credit data marketplace, tackling the gap in markets underserved by credit bureaus by providing lending companies with access to vital data to facilitate lending.
Though headquartered in Nairobi, the startup’s initial launch will take place in Zambia, where it has signed an agreement with the country’s National Association of Savings and Credit Unions (NASCU) to provide credit reference services for 1,122 credit unions. These credit unions serve almost 1.5 million members, equivalent to almost 15 per cent of Zambia’s adult population.
CARMA is targeting rollouts across the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically markets that lack or have limited credit reference services.
“The number of people enjoying access to formal financial services in Africa is increasing by an unprecedented number, however, there is still a huge gap in accessing credit information and the growth rate for collection of credit data history is still growing at a very slow pace,” said Ted Martynov, the startup’s co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO).
“At CARMA, we have reinvented a solution for mobile money-based economies by creating an inclusive environment for the pan-industry by providing real-time data that will help lenders fuel their scorecards and provide a unique method to monetise data for any enterprise. CARMA is available across Africa as data is provided from one peer to another and we do not store any customer information in our servers.”
William Kanyika, managing director at NASCU, said his organisation was happy to find a critical missing component for the lending infrastructure with CARMA.
“It fully covers the needs of credit unions in sharing credit data amongst themselves, which is now even more important than ever before due to the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“Over indebtedness control and fraud prevention are expected benefits for lenders and we believe that many other financial and non-financial institutions will leverage the impact of the credit data marketplace along with us.”