Only 41% of 26.4 million people in Ivory Coast are financially included, according to financial inclusion research by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). Out of the 41%, 38% make use of mobile money which is the main driver of financial inclusion in the country.
A paltry 7% have bank accounts while 3% use other non-bank financial institutions like savings community and credit associations.
As of 2019, the banking sector in Ivory Coast did not comprehensively cater to the needs of its small percentage of customers. An Ivorian, Hassan Bourgi said that people had to go to the banks and wait in long queues to collect their debit cards or load them with money.
The rigours of using banking services led to Bourgi teaming up with Regis Bamba in 2019 to create a startup with solutions for the challenges.
The startup is called Djamo.
How Djamo solved the problem
Djamo offers Ivorians a simple way of opening an account with its platform, ordering a visa card and receiving it within 48 hours. Through its mobile app, the entire process of signing up and ordering for cards can be completed in less time than it takes to go to a banking hall.
Djamo does not charge people for top-ups, card payments, transfers to mobile money wallets or Djamo accounts when they are within a certain limit. It makes money by placing services in tiers.
CEO, Hassan Bourgi said, “For us, it was important to offer a zero-fee card with no recurring fee to a certain limit. After that, you pay as you go in transaction fees. There is a premium plan around $4 a month where users can transact to higher limits.”
With the card, Ivorians can pay for online services like Netflix and Amazon subscription or buy things on sites like Alibaba, Wish and other e-retailing platforms without the complexities that exist with traditional banks.
Since its inception in 2019, Djamo has come a long way.
It was recently announced as one of the companies selected by Y Combinator for its Winter 2021 batch. You can find the full list of African companies here. The company claims to have about 90,000 registered users and processes over 50,000 transactions monthly.
The operations are not without challenges, however. Ivory Coast’s payment infrastructure system is not as developed as Nigeria’s where the likes of Flutterwave, Mono and PayStack exist.
To facilitate its payments, Djamo moves from one payment infrastructure provider to another. The company’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Regis Bamba said that the country has a couple of providers, but most are unreliable. Therefore, the startup moves from one to the other to find the best fit and deliver the best experience to its customers.
The peculiar challenges in Ivory Coast, however, present ample opportunity for disruption through innovation. To make better use of Visa’s capabilities and network for its users, Djamo is taking part in Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program.
The startup raised $350,000 in a pre-seed round in June 2019 and an additional $125,000 from Y Combinator. With its latest funding and partnerships, the one-year-old startup is in a good position to help more Ivorians take advantage of digital tools for financial services.
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