Former Kiva.org CEO Brings New App, a ‘Branchless Bank’ to Kenya

Friday, May 8, 2015

The former chief executive and co-founder of nonprofit lending platform Kiva.org, Matt Flannery, on Wednesday revealed his latest initiative Branch International Inc., which he calls “a mobile-based microfinance institution for the world.”

Branch raised $1.4 million in equity seed funding fromFormation 8 and the Khosla Impact Fund.

In many ways, Branch operates like a bank in the cloud, one that is accessible not through local “branch” offices, but through a user’s smartphone. It provides small amounts of credit–up to $20–to Android users in Africa, specifically Kenya today, but doesn’t take deposits.

Branch is able to make decisions about creditworthiness without ever meeting would-be borrowers in person as many microfinance institutions must do before making loans.

Here’s how it works. A user downloads the Branch mobile app which asks them for access to some of the social and transactional history already stored on their phones thanks to their use of mPay and Facebook FB +0.10%, among other apps.

Source: The Wall Street Journal (link opens in a new window)

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lending, microfinance, mobile banking