An online bank operating at low costs will soon become a reality for Nigerians, and eventually Africans at large.
Lidya is an online bank co-owned by Tunde Kehinde and Ercin Eksin. Kehinde and Eksin are prominent digital entrepreneurs who had previously worked at Jumia and currently own Africa Courier Express, a logistics company.
Although the online bank Lidya will have no branches, it will be based in Lagos, Nigeria. The bank will also offer unsecured loans between N152,000 ($500) and N4.5 million ($15,000) to small- and- medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
“There are no real products catered to these customers today. What we’re trying to do is introduce a lot of technology, algorithms and machine learning to industrialise the credit assessment process,” Kehinde said to Bloomberg.
Despite having the bank based in Lagos, the owners have expressed their ambition to see Lidya expand to include other African cities as well.
There have been fears by observers on the viability of the online bank, seeing as it targets SMEs, offering them cheap and unsecured loans. Tunde Kehinde addressed this fear, stating that:
“Their (bricks and mortar banks) cost structure isn’t favourable to servicing small businesses. Because we’re using technology and algorithms to assess the risk, it allows them to offer financial products to these customers at a low cost.”
Kehinde and Eksin also plan to make the bank accessible to more shareholders in coming months, in order to raise more capital. In addition to bringing in more shareholders, the duo also plan to raise at least, $1 million from investors, especially from the United States. Lidya will also partner with other Nigerian banks in a bid to access a platform to reach their target market.
Lidya will be unveiled in New York, USA next month.