Nigerian FinTech startup, Mines, has reported that it has closed its Series A funding round of $13 million. The Series A funding round was led by The Rise Fund with Velocity Capital, Western Technology Investments, First Ally Capital, X/Seed Capital, NYCA Partners, Persistent Capital, Singularity Investments, Trans Sahara Investments, and the Bank of Industry also participating.

Mines has developed a platform that allows its partners in emerging markets like Afrika to dispense credit.

Nigeria Fintech Mines Executives
Mines Executive, left to right: Adia Sowho (VP of Commercial), Ekechi Nwokah (CEO), and Kunle Olukotun (Chief Scientist).

"There are more than 3 billion adults globally without access to credit. Our vision is that every one of them will have instant access to credit in the next 10 years. We believe the best way to realize this vision is to partner with banks, retailers and mobile operators and power digital credit products tailored to their markets so they can create the customers of tomorrow, today,” said Ekechi Nwokah, CEO at Mines.

Piloting FinTech platform in Nigeria

Before completing the Series A funding round, Mines tested its platform in Nigeria and now wants to expand into similar markets. What is interesting is that, unlike other micro-lending companies targeted at emerging markets (such as Nigeria's Lidya which recently concluded a $6,9 million Series A funding round to grow their FinTech platform and app) , Mines is not an app, as it does not require a smartphone to dispense loans or provide credit. It can work on feature phones.

Nigeria Fintech Mines Phone
A photo of a Nokia 3310 accessing Mines FinTech credit services using USSD.

The platform works by mining high-volume data like phone records, bank records, and payment transactions in real-time. It then uses these to assess credit risk. Furthermore, it integrates its risk models with identity, origination, payments, loan lifecycle management, and customer service to form a holistic platform.

By leveraging their own data sets, Mines allows different institutions the ability to serve loans to customers ignored by available credit systems and open up entirely new revenue opportunities. Added to this, using USSD allows Mines to scale well without worrying about the type of mobile phone an end-user is using.

Thus, since launching in 2017, Mines reports that 1 million customers have used their platform in Nigeria.

Expansion and growth

Mines plans to use its investment for talent acquisition, continued growth in Africa, and expansion to South America and South-East Asia.

β€œWhat we have done differently is take Silicon Valley technology and built it into a product that is robust enough for emerging markets like Nigeria, Brazil, or Indonesia. We can extend credit to all types of customers, including customers without smartphones or even bank accounts as these are the people who need credit the most,” said Kunle Olukotun, Chief Scientist at Mines.

Also, as part of the Series A funding round, Yemi Lalude from TPG Growth and Willem Willemstein from Velocity Capital have joined Mines’ Board of Directors.

Cover image credit: Photo of a Nokia 3310 accessing Mines FinTech credit services using USSD.

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