This startup gives credit ratings based on personality

By Pauline Bock for Wired Mag

The Mkopo Rahisi app is giving the world a credit rating

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Two billion people in the world don’t have a credit score or any financial identity, preventing them from getting loans. The Mkopo Rahisi app, which means “easy loan” in Swahili, aims to give them one.

Developed by credit-scoring startup InVenture, the app delivers electronic loans based on a user’s financial profile, calculated on an average of 10,000 data points, from their mobile phone transactions, social-media activity and web searches. Founder Shivani Siroya says she realised financial credit scores were not nuanced enough: “Unlike my college applications, where my score was supplemented by other interesting information on myself, my loans rest almost entirely on this one number, my credit score.”
To address this, Siroya decided to create a score based on an individual’s identity. “By using mobile data, we can open up credit to people who have little to no formal financial records or public identity and are therefore often overlooked by traditional banks,” Siroya says. When Mkopo Rahisi users request a loan, their whole profile is taken into account to set the terms of a “customised credit” contract and the app delivers the money within minutes, directly to their phones via SMS, Facebook or WhatsApp.

Based in Santa Monica with offices in New York and Nairobi, InVenture launched Mkopo Rahisi in Kenya in 2014 and raised $10 million in 2015. According to Siroya, the app has loaned $6 million (£4m) to businesses and individuals in East and West Africa and Aoutheast Asia and plans to expand to more countries in 2016.

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