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Automating financial services with an agile approach

By Duncan Mochama | 3 June 2021
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Local impact: we love it. Together with Financial Access we created an awesome digital solution to support rural financial institutions. Curious how we managed to launch LendXS - a product that helps financial institutions to attract new customers, provide loans at lower risks and costs - with our agile supported approach? Read all about it.

About Financial Access and its mission

As a niche advisory services firm, Financial Access (FACS) supports rural financial institutions through low-cost, high-impact digital solutions. FACS advises banks on providing financing for farmers and small agricultural businesses. But unfortunately, in the course of their work some issues kept coming up:

  • The high cost of loan applications
  • Approvals
  • And risks in giving finance to small-holder farmers.

These issues make financial institutions hesitant to provide credit facilities to small scale farmers. Whilst farmers and their families, now more than ever, need financing. That’s why we partnered with Financial Access and launched a new fintech platform LendXS.

The challenge for small scale farmers

It’s clear. Providing loans can be challenging for financial institutions. It is difficult for them to assess the risks for small scale farmers. Besides, small-scale farmers live in remote areas, so it's not easy to get in touch.

With this in mind, it was time for Financial Access to come up with a systematic digital solution for rural financial institutions that can be 1) used in different countries and 2) offered as a stand-alone low-cost product. An easy-to-use software tool that can be licensed to actors in the agricultural value chain, like microfinance institutions (MFIs), banks and other investors to help them lower their costs and make their risks more insightful.

We know what clients need, how the product should look and what it should do, but not how it works in the backend. - Paul Njoroge / Agrifinance Advisor Financial Access

Our agile approach

Agile is the answer. We want to work quickly and easily. Like any good software undertaking, we started with a needs assessment. Financial institutions are conservative and slow to change. Talking through their needs and getting them across to developers was a bit of a challenge. But we love a good challenge. So we worked very closely to really understand the pain points.

After the needs assessment, we quickly built an MVP (minimum viable product) and got users on board to test it. This MVP is a version of the product that enables you to collect as much information as possible with the least amount of effort. From there, we continued to add more features to cater to more diverse users.

LendXS: a platform to make farmers’ lives easier

The solution? LendXS. Thanks to this new fintech platform, banks can provide more loans to smallholders at reduced cost and risk. LendXS digitizes the onboarding of farmers and individual credit risk scoring that measures their loan repayment capacity. It will:

  • Generate automated credit risk scores in a fair and objective way. Eliminate the manual work of loan officers, like collecting farmers’ details and calculating the repayment capacity of borrowers, which then reduces the scope for mistakes
  • Make loan approval processes easier and quicker by minimizing the paperwork of having to get multiple sign-offs by going from desk to desk

In other words, LendXS enables:

  • Faster loan approval processes
  • Better informed credit decisions
  • Less manual work
  • And little room for fraud and mistakes.

LendXS’ Google Cloud infrastructure

The LendXS platform, consisting of an Android app, React dashboard, and Java back-end is built cloud-native on Google Cloud infrastructure. Using a microservices architecture makes it highly scalable and optimizable for cost and performance. The open architecture also enables an easy connection with external systems, including most core banking systems.

What does this mean? For farmers, less time spent completing loan applications and faster loan disbursements. For the lenders , less time spent on loan applications, faster approvals and more objective risk assessment, resulting in lower costs and risks.

Both the technology as well as the financial industry are complicated sectors. Only in true collaboration were we able to teach and understand each other and to build a solution that works. - Dennis de Weerd / CEO Incentro Africa

Agile and going Cloud Native

Through our agile approach we were able to provide a wholesome solution for Financial Access. This, in conjunction with certified app- and web developers allowed LendXS to provide essential services to support rural financial institutions with low-cost, high-impact digital process and risk solutions. A true testament to the versatility and expertise of what Incentro has to offer.

Curious about this project or other questions? We are happy to tell you more.

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Duncan Mochama

Duncan Mochama is the solutions consultant at Incentro Africa.

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