The founders of Africa Courier Express (ACE), Tunde Kehinde and Ercin Eksin, have launched a new financial services platform, Lidya.

In a statement, they said Lidya was founded to improve access to credit and finance across the African continent and for Africans living in the diaspora.  The new platform aims to tackle the pressing problem of financial inclusion in Africa by using technology to help individuals open accounts, build credit profiles and access credit to grow their businesses and plan for personal needs.

Tunde Kehinde, co-founder of both Lidya and ACE and also of retail giant Jumia, explained the rationale behind establishing Lidya: “In my experience, there are two clear barriers hindering the successful development of economies across Africa. ACE was founded to address the infrastructural challenges preventing companies from connecting with their customers. Lidya is our solution for the over 300 million consumers on the continent who have bank accounts but don’t have access to credit, trade finance and personal investing tools to grow their businesses and plan their futures.

“With 600 million mobile subscribers and close to 350 million people online in Africa today, it’s clear that digital banking and finance is the future for Africa. We aim to industrialize the risk assessment process and capitalise on the huge technological advancements in machine learning and related technologies to unlock relevant financial products for today’s young, mobile and entrepreneurial customer.”

ACE and Lidya co-founder Ercin Eksin, also commented on the launch: “We estimated the credit gap in Africa to be several hundred billion US dollars.  To unlock capital for customers that do not have access to credit; innovative forms of banking backed with world-class customer experience must be developed. Lidya is revolutionizing how risk is assessed, credit is disbursed and customers are banked.”

Lidya’s goal is to allow any consumer in Africa or the diaspora to open an account in minutes, save securely and access the credit they need in their daily lives.  The platform’s credit scoring algorithm will help customers to build credit profiles that are relevant around the world and will unlock higher loans amounts, affordable financing rates and rewards that benefit them and their businesses.

The platform’s first product aimed at SMEs is a receivables based loan, the value of which can be between $500 and $15,000, that disburses credit to qualified customers in 72 hours as opposed to the average six months it would take with a traditional bank.