First Access was featured in a Newsweek article describing the technological innovations that are bringing digital financial services to the unbanked in emerging markets.
Last year, First Access hit a turning point. A string of successes had our inboxes overflowing, but we couldn’t scale fast enough to change emerging market credit. We were turning data into financial opportunity, but not for everyone. Our credit scoring platform needed to be easier to use and more affordable. Our innovation was literally too disruptive.
New York, NY - 21 November 2017: Bamboo Capital Partners (“Bamboo”), a leading impact investment private equity firm delivering social and financial value, has led the $7m Series A investment round in First Access, a cutting-edge fintech company that offers a smart data platform for analytics and credit scoring to lending institutions in emerging markets.
First Access, based in New York City, works with financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa to simplify and reduce the cost of evaluating credit applicants. Co-founder and CEO Nicole Van Der Tuin has a professional background in the microfinance industry, and as she states in this interview, she saw that the demands of traditional credit-scoring methods were making capital inaccessible to many.
Our Co-founder and Chief Data Scientist Rohit Acharya helped the SME Finance Forum launch their new report "Alternative Data Transforming SME Finance." Rohit is pictured here speaking on the panel discussion at the launch of the report at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Washington, DC, on 12 June 2017.
Today, First Access is proud to launch a new logo that reflects our vision of turning data into financial opportunity for everyone.
Affordable credit enables important opportunities like growing a business, owning a home, and financing an education, but remains out of reach for more than 2.5 billion people. Most make their living in informal economies, where records like personal identification, transaction receipts, and land titles are still not universal.
Financial institutions across emerging markets are striving to reach underserved customers, enabling their “first access” to credit, and providing essential liquidity for economic growth and development. However, the high cost of relationship-driven lending remains the greatest challenge to scale.
Great primer on the diverse fintech landscape. To ensure all countries see the benefits of global fintech innovation, governments should consider eliminating "data localization" laws that force data to be stored within a nation's geographic borders. These laws do not increase data security and can ultimately stifle the flow of innovation to developing countries, particularly those without sophisticated local data centers and storage facilities.
How would you feel if you were invited to the moon? If you found a gold coin, would you save it, give it to charity or splurge on a holiday? Personality quizzes of this kind—“psychometrics”, in the jargon—are already the bane of many a jobseeker. Now, it is being applied to the oldest problem in finance: will a borrower repay?
In rich countries, lenders use credit scores to weigh risk. But just 7% of Africans and 13% of South Asians are covered by private credit bureaus.
On fingerprint technology and credit scoring, for example, the bank appears to be ahead of many of its competitors. Letshego, for one, is only just getting started on digital innovation. Of all the firms that rely on agency banking in Tanzania, Finca is the only one to have provided fingerprint payment terminals to its agents. Its partnership with First Access, meanwhile, represents one of the largest collaborations between microfinance and financial technology to date. And Finca is far from being the only bank in Africa to still rely on a large contingent of travelling loan officers.
“Many in Silicon Valley aspire to build products and companies that have the potential to create positive change on a large scale. Often, however, these companies can be difficult to find because they have smaller recruiting budgets, and their mission statements can get lost in the noise of startups claiming to be “changing the world.” To help, we’ve decided to put together a list of mission-driven companies that are attempting to make a big impact on the world.”