PayJoy Lock lifecycle end to end

By Jaideep Mirchandani and Dominique Friedl

In previous PayJoy blog posts, we highlighted the problem in lending to the underbanked and underserved and how PayJoy technologies are now helping to solve this problem.

In this post, we’ll talk about how Lock and Access come together to serve these underbanked and underserved consumers. We’ll give an example of how this has worked with a partner in Africa who has a truly end to end integrated consumer journey.

A lifecycle view to enable device financing

Let’s start with the consumer. Once the consumers’ ability to pay has been assessed and they have been approved for a phone on finance (installments), the PayJoy Lock app is installed on their new device, typically by a store clerk. To enable and activate the financing and credit lifecycle, the Finance Partner configures and manages the financed device using the PayJoy Lock API service.

A critical feature of the PayJoy Lock is ensuring that the Lock is secure so that phone finance is both practically and economically viable for the partner, meaning the partner is comfortable that the Lock is easy to set up, works reliably and fosters a strong repayment behaviour. This ultimately starts with the device manufacturer (OEM). OEMs either have built-in device management or they use PayJoy Access to make setup as secure and simple as possible. Briefly, Access is PayJoy’s firmware product which OEMs optionally use to enable automatic setup (“provisioning”) and device management to enable PayJoy’s Lock to work “out of the box” to minimize the number of steps for the user and store clerk to get started. There is a tradeoff between using PayJoy Access and OEM device management. Access is built from the ground-up for phone financing, meaning that it minimizes the number of steps during setup and can provide added security guarantees but the OEM is also required to integrate into their manufacturing processes. To make this step easier, we partnered with key mobile SOC partners like Qualcomm to offer faster integration of PayJoy Access for differentiated devices with improved time to commercialization.

The Lock lifecycle

After the capabilities are baked-into the device, PayJoy’s Lock API enables the finance partner to fully implement the lifecycle to serve the consumer. Deployment of the PayJoy Lock API at scale requires the partner to integrate the Lock into the partner’s business systems which may require additional considerations and setup. Here, PayJoy, provides an end-to-end launch process to help guide a partner’s technical team to integrate and launch Lock API effectively and efficiently.

Functionally, the API allows partners to:

  • Register and take ownership of a device
  • Lock a device at a particular time if payment is not made
  • Permanently unlock a device after it is fully paid

Partners call the PayJoy Lock API to control specific devices; these changes are then propagated from PayJoy servers to the device asynchronously.

Disclosures and Consumer Privacy

We realise that protecting consumer privacy is crucial. At each step of the way, the user is informed and requested for consent both by the Store Clerk but also by the PayJoy software. Just like all Android smartphone apps, Payjoy adheres to the Android permissions model to ensure transparency and customer controls.

Making it easy to customize the PayJoy app experience

Using the Lock API Dashboard a partner can customize the following features of the Lock without any code needed:

  • In-app personalized company logo
  • Whitelisted numbers that users can access (such as Customer Support) when their Lock is enforced
  • Whitelisted apps that users can access when their Lock is enforced
  • Whitelisted IPs for direct server to server API calls
  • Payment Page URL which can embed the partner’s payment page so users can pay directly

A case study – d.light in Africa

Recently, d.light, a global leader and pioneer in delivering affordable solar-powered solutions saw the opportunity to leverage its leadership in PAYG solar and offer smartphones on a pay-as-you-go basis. With d.light’s proven ability to finance and distribute devices, they implemented PayJoy “soup to nuts” to ensure the most secure and most streamlined experience possible for their consumers and merchants.

Specifically, they:

  • Preloaded app – Simple, secure setup using PayJoy Access with a pre-loaded PayJoy Lock. This minimizes data downloads for the consumer and makes the setup process smooth.
  • Ensured commercial-grade Android compliance – d.light devices have successfully passed Google’s Android Compatibility Test Suite (“CTS”), meaning that it is certified as “commercial-grade” per the CTS website.
  • Successfully integrated Lock into the point of sale and financing lifecycle – They successfully used PayJoy Lock API to implement point of sale and setup. This minimizes the number of steps for their store clerks and users in the store, which means fewer errors and a more satisfied user.
  • Successfully integrated Mobile Money to manage devices through the financing and credit lifecycle.

Initial results are positive and as such d.light are rolling out more broadly across the market. Along with the above, strong technical foundation, d.light will deploy their proven team of sales clerks and customer support staff to successfully support consumers with smartphone finance.

We look forward to many satisfied users benefiting from this joint ecosystem effort!

For more information, visit www.payjoy.com. Join the smartphone financing conversation by visiting the PayJoy blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

Pay-As-You-Go, from solar kits to smartphones

Can the mobile industry and ecosystem players learn from an industry that has proved its solid technology foundations, high demand and low-income customers’ ability to pay for credit?

Energy poverty is a development challenge that traditional, centralized approaches have been slow to overcome. Globally, 1.1 billion people remain without access to electricity, including 589 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. Alternative energy sources such as solar have existed for decades, but their upfront costs have been unaffordable for most low-income customers, with the vast majority unable to access the credit necessary to extend repayment over time.

The expansion of digital finance systems in the developing world has altered this financial context and enabled new business models that rely on small, regular payments. In the off-grid energy sector a group of solar companies, primarily in East Africa and South Asia, are leveraging digital finance and locking technologies to offer pay-as-you-go (PAYG) energy.

How PAYG solar works

PAYG businesses rely on distributed energy sources where energy is generated at the point of consumption, in the case of PAYG solar, from a photovoltaic panel on the customer’s roof. Products range in size from $150 to $300 small home systems. Customers pay a fixed amount ($25) upfront to receive the product, and then make small, routine payments ($0.40 per day) over time (12 months). PAYG solar units contain hardware that allows the seller to remotely lock or unlock the unit, based on receipt of payment. Once the customer’s prepaid use is completed, the solar device automatically shuts off until the next payment is made. Payment schedules are relatively flexible, allowing households to pace the use of energy according to their cash flow and ability to pay.

From the provider perspective, the ability to remotely activate/deactivate the solar device based on payment significantly reduces the risk of default and theft. This added security allows PAYG providers to offer consumer financing in one of two forms: energy as an asset, where the customer pays off the solar unit over 3–36 months and takes ownership when repayments are complete, or energy as a service, in which the customer signs a long-term lease with lower monthly payments and no intent to own. In this case, assets are upgraded or replaced over time.

PAYG solar success

The model has proved its solid technology foundations, high demand and low-income customers’ ability to pay for clean energy and this can be seen in the strong performance of the PAYG solar market. According to the latest figures announced by GOGLA and The World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program in their first half of 2018 Global Off-Grid Solar Market Report, 3.66 million off-grid solar products were sold globally in the first half of 2018 of which 2.93 million have been sold on a cash basis ($107.50 million value) and 730 000 via PAYG business models ($110.89 million value). The GSMA M4D Utilities estimate that global PAYG solar sales have increased six-fold in the last three years.

Pay-as-you-go for smartphones

The PAYG solar model is also a perfect example of the second wave of inclusive digital innovation impacting lives around the globe. Emerging from the convergence of innovations around the Internet of Things, cloud computing and mobile financial services, these new service delivery models provide flexible payment terms while collecting intelligence on users and the systems they are using, creating a credit history through mobile payments for customers with no formal financial history.

PayJoy gives mobile network operators and finance companies a tool to collateralize smartphones that aren’t just the lowest cost phones. With our patented Lock technology, which resists any efforts to be deleted from the mobile device until the loan is recovered, we can increase payments and minimize the risk of late or defaults. We have developed a user experience on our lock that helps customers to track and make their payments seamlessly via the app. When users are late on a payment, they don’t get charged any late fees. Instead the PayJoy Lock limits their app and call functionalities until they make their payment, and instantly restores normal phone functionalities. Through this new “pay as you go” form of device finance that mirrors the “pay as you go” solar distribution model, we enable users to afford getting a smartphone by using it as collateral, and we enable finance companies and operators to onboard the next billion users to smartphones and full connectivity.

African countries will continue to experience a degree of volatility due to factors such as currency and economic and political instabilities, lack of locally relevant content and technical literacy and affordability. However, innovative technologies and solutions like that of PayJoy can lead to the next African smartphone boom in the longer term. Indeed, market researchers project an increase in the availability of low-cost devices in the region could add a further half a billion smartphone connections by 2020.

However, the time has certainly come to redefine low-cost devices to that of making the purchase price more manageable through financing, an area in which PayJoy is leading the market in Africa and globally.

For more information, visit www.payjoy.com. Join the smartphone financing conversation by visiting the PayJoy blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

Written by Dominique Friedl, GM Africa and Jenny Jin, Senior Product Manager

Taking our Mission to the Next Level with Greylock’s Series B Investment

Today we announced that Greylock Partners led a $20M Series B investment round in PayJoy, with participation from our seed investor Core Innovation Capital and our Series A lead Union Square Ventures.  As part of this investment, Josh McFarland will be joining our board.  This brings our total financing in debt and equity to about $70M.

This round represents a significant milestone for us.  When we raised our Series A, we were primarily a finance company approving 90% of underbanked applicants in the US and Mexico for device financing using our software.  We are now primarily an enterprise software company enabling the underbanked to get a phone or get a loan in over a dozen countries and we’re continuing to grow globally.  Many of our partners have increased their approval rates from 10% to 90% and reduced their default rates by 50% using our software.

To provide a sense of this shift, here are the public partners we are working with today:

The impact of our technology is hard to fathom, especially for people in developed markets who use credit like water. But if you look at the World Bank map of access to credit worldwide, you can see the delta between developed and emerging markets.

And beyond the data, we hear stories from partners about how our technology is changing lives, not only for the end consumers but for their staff and contractors as well.  For example, with our partner d.Light, we have been able to offer smartphones to customers deep in rural Kenya using field reps on bikes.  This is working so well that a couple of the reps selling these smartphones have been able to set up a dedicated store. Here they are waving at you through your screen from the Kenyan countryside.

We have grown so quickly — and had such an impact wherever we have grown — because credit is sorely needed virtually everywhere as the middle class expands.  Credit requires assessing ability to pay and ensuring willingness to pay, yet the vast majority of the world’s population does not have a credit score and cannot pledge collateral. Enter the PayJoy Lock — now globally available — which converts smartphones into collateral, ensuring willingness to pay and reducing the burden on lenders to assess ability to pay.  

We enable credit not only through our patented technology but also our partnerships, and with this round we plan to invest in both.  We plan to continue to add compatibility partners like chip makers and OEMs to ensure we are relevant to more end users. We also plan to scale up our partnerships with lenders worldwide, specifically ones that have access to capital, underwriting, developers, and distribution.  We look forward to engaging with players throughout emerging markets via our offices in Mexico City, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangalore, and Johannesburg.

We’re excited to continue unlocking access for the next billion and to share more about our partnerships and product innovations soon.

How We’re Making Our Lock Available to Global Lenders to Scale Financial Inclusion

Jenny Jin, Senior Product Manager

In 2015, PayJoy began by using our patented locking technology to encourage repayment as we financed smartphones.  

A customer financing a new smartphone with PayJoy

The idea was pretty simple. A customer who doesn’t have strong credit wants to take out an affordable loan to buy a new smartphone.  If they’re late on a payment, we don’t charge any late fees to keep our customers from incurring further debt. To encourage repayment, our locking technology kicks in and prevents a customer from accessing their normal phone functions with the exception of emergency numbers and any whitelisted apps and numbers that are critical to a customer. As soon as the customer sends in their payment, the phone immediately unlocks.

After 3 years of financing hundreds of thousands of customers in the U.S. and Mexico, we saw a 50% reduction in defaults from our locking technology, which allows us to lower costs to customers, lend to more people, and help them build their credit.  Many of our customers in Mexico built their credit score to qualify for a credit card after taking out a loan with us. We’re immensely proud of that and we want to do more.

PayJoy’s partner Baobab provides affordable device financing loans in Senegal and Ivory Coast

We want to solve the financial access problem worldwide

According to the World Bank, there are still 1.7 billion people in the world who are still unbanked, but two-thirds of whom own a mobile phone.  We want to scale financial inclusion to all those users. To do that, we began in 2018 to build and share our Lock API with other lenders in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Indonesia, and India.

Now any lender — whether its a bank, retailer who provides point of sale financing, or fintech company — can sign up and use our Lock API to download the PayJoy Lock onto their customer’s phone to collateralize it for a smartphone financing loan or a cash loan.  

If you’re a lender, we want to hear from you

If you’re a lender anywhere in the world, sign up now for a free trial to try out our PayJoy Lock in minutes on a Samsung  (Android 7.0 or higher) or Hisense 11 Android device, zero code required.

Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more case studies and stories of how we’ve worked with partners to increase financial access for users.

Breakthroughs in affordability unleash smartphone growth in Africa

Innovative technologies like the PayJoy Lock are likely to lead to the next smartphone boom on the continent.

The last few years have been tough for smartphone shipments in Africa. However, according to the most recent figures announced by International Data Corporation (IDC) in 2018, Africa experienced year-on-year growth in smartphone shipments for the first time since 2015. The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report shows the African smartphone market grew a modest 2.3% in 2018 to a total 88.2 million units, spurred by the strong performance of the continent’s three biggest markets – Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt.

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall smartphone market to grow 5.4% year on year in 2019, to a total 92.9 million units, stimulated by the introduction of more affordable devices in the African market, which will help drive progress in this space over the coming years.

We often hear about high-growth markets like India, Indonesia and Vietnam, which are forecast to show growth in smartphone shipments in 2019. Growth in Africa should theoretically be significantly higher due to the relatively low base for smartphone and mobile internet penetration, which, as of the end of 2018, was just 33% and 38% respectively.

What are the main factors constraining the acceleration of smartphone adoption in Africa?

In many countries, macroeconomic factors are to blame for some of the smartphone industry stagnation. Nigeria, for example, experienced an economic downturn and a shortage of foreign exchange, which impacted sales of imported products, including smartphones. South Africa also slipped into a technical recession in 2018, as the economy shrunk for two consecutive periods.

According to the GSM Association (GSMA), a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, affordability still represents a significant barrier to the uptake of mobile services in the region, with the total cost of mobile ownership (TCMO) determined by the cost of service usage (voice, data, SMS), activation and mobile handset. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have among the highest level of TCMO as a proportion of income worldwide; this is particularly pronounced for those at the bottom of the income pyramid. For the 27 countries in the region where data is available, the TCMO for purchasing a handset and 500MB of data per month represents on average 10% of monthly income, well above the 5% threshold recommended by the UN Broadband Commission.

According to PayJoy’s own market analysis and affordability ratio, on average, the price of the cheapest smartphone represents 63% of monthly income. In 33 of 41 African countries, the price over income ratio is higher than 20%. In Nigeria, for example, the average selling price of an entry level smartphone is $65 while the GNI per capita is $173 per month, which represents an affordability ratio of 38%.

With some sense of normality returning to economics across Africa and affordability somewhat improving, what will help the smartphone industry prosper in the next few years?

For one, industry leaders are expected to increase their focus on putting affordable smartphones in more people’s hands as mobile subscriber penetration approaches saturation levels across Africa. This focus on smartphones, in turn, will help boost data revenues for network operators in a market where voice revenue growth has flatlined.

According to Jumia, Nigeria and Kenya’s leading ecommerce platform, the average selling price (ASP) of smartphones continues to fall year on year in most markets across Africa: smartphone average prices across Africa were $95 in 2018, down from $99 in 2016 and down from $165 in 2014.

Source: Kenya Mobile Report 2019

The smartphone industry in Africa has remained a truly competitive landscape over the years, with Chinese brands dominating the African markets with their strategy of introducing lower price points specifically for the profiles of African users. However, that said, it’s evident that the year on year reduction in average selling price (ASP) of smartphones is slowing significantly and with the enhancement of technologies like displays, cameras and 4G/5G technologies, one could expect the ASP’s to start increasing again, as they have globally.

Other factors that could help bring the cost of devices down for consumers:

  1. The availability of Android Go, a streamlined version of the Google mobile operating system.
  2. The rise of the “Smart Feature Phone” powered by KaiOS, a new class of mobile device.

Android Go was designed for low-power devices (Chipset & Memory), and the operating system will enable handset manufacturers to ship smartphones that while not as full-featured as a flagship device, still offer a reliable and responsive end-user experience well suited to the African markets. Android Go is Google’s new product for the next billion users.

MTNSPThe Smart Feature Phone was originally introduced in July 2017 by the Indian mobile network operator Reliance Jio. The JioPhone, as it was named, was an affordable 4G smart feature phone, powered by KaiOS. The price announced for it is $0 with a security deposit of $21 which can be drawn back by the user by returning the JioPhone at Jio stores only after three years. More recently, South African mobile network operator MTN announced the introduction of their own Smart Feature Phone. The MTN Smart Feature Phone is a 3G non-touch screen device that runs on KaiOS and has the following apps: WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Maps, MyMTNApp, FM Radio and Google Assistant. The MTN Smart Feature Phone sells for about $22 with 500MB of data included for six months. MTN CEO Rob Shuter said it’s a “wonderful bridge device” for the vast number of Africans who still use feature phones because they cannot afford smartphones. While this may be a “wonderful bridge device” or a device to bring people online for the first time, one can’t help but wonder if too much has been sacrificed in user experience to achieve affordability. Time will tell!

There is certainly ample opportunity for the mobile industry and ecosystem players to improve smartphone affordability in emerging markets like Africa and to borrow from a prominent financial institutions tagline, the time is now right for some “Solutionist Thinking”!

Keep an eye out for our next blog post where we will look for “Lessons from other industries, leading to new innovative solutions for making smartphone for affordable and accessible”

For more information, visit www.payjoy.com. Join the smartphone financing conversation by visiting the PayJoy blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

SOURCE PayJoy

Written by: Dominique Friedl, GM PayJoy Africa

April 3, 2019

Empowering Indians Through Technology and Financing

It all started last Spring on my day-long visit to Khayelitsha, a township located just outside Cape Town in South Africa. I was there on a study trip along with a few other business school students from US, Turkey, China and South Korea. Our day was packed with visits to local families in the township, meetings with small business entrepreneurs and a traditional South African lunch at a locally run bed and breakfast.

While most people I met and spoke to in Khayelitsha were seen fighting adversity of some magnitude, one story that left a profound impact on me was that of Bonga Mubaya. Bonga is a remarkably talented and ambitious entrepreneur, who started his carpentry business in 2012. With sheer hard-work and grit, he has grown to a point where he earns an average annual income of R84,000 (~$6,000) from furniture sale. He has a vision to not only scale up his business, but through that generate employment for people in his community. He aspires to elevate the socio-economic condition of Khayelitsha, which today is one of the poorest areas in Cape Town with a median annual family income of R20,000 (~$1,500), against a city median of R40,000 (~$3,000).

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Our picture with Bonga (in white T-shirt), taken outside his furniture workshop in Khayelitsha

So, what could possibly be keeping Bonga from pursuing his dreams and living his potential? Surprisingly, considering he is making twice the country’s median income, it was lack of credit. On questioning further, I learnt that Bonga had been denied loans from all banks because he could not provide account statements as evidence of his cash flows. Even though he was well over the minimum salary requirement (R3,500 per month) for small size loans, he could not avail of credit finance because his business transactions happened largely in cash. More importantly, Bonga knew how to make good use of the money he was asking for. He needed funds to purchase a vehicle for transporting materials and finished furniture goods, a move that would make his business more profitable. Sadly, he was left with no choice but to use public or rented facilities which added significantly to his transport cost.

Deeply moved by his story, the first thing I did when I got back to my hotel was tried to find out how many people like Bonga existed in the world. The closest I could get to that was by looking up figures for number of underbanked people worldwide. The numbers were alarming, to say the least. Globally, 1.7 billion adults do not have a bank account, and about a fifth of account owners have reported making no deposit or withdrawal in the last 12 months. I learned that about 3 billion people worldwide today remain excluded from the formal financial system. Over the days that followed, I became obsessed with looking for alternate lending solutions that could be scaled worldwide to address the needs of this underserved segment.

My search ended at PayJoy – a Silicon Valley based fintech startup founded  in 2015. The firm uses its proprietary data science capability to identify credit worthy customers from amongst those who are underbanked and routinely turned down by financial institutions. Its unique phone locking technology brings payment discipline amongst the customers by locking them out of their phones if they miss to pay an installment. PayJoy looks at smartphone financing as an entry point into the lives of one billion target people worldwide who frequently need small size loans, and have both the willingness and ability to pay back.  Through intelligent use of its technology and strategic partnerships, the firm has proven that lending to the underbanked segment can indeed be a profitable business.

I feel fortunate to have joined PayJoy at a time when it is rapidly expanding internationally into Africa, South Asia, and Indonesia, having demonstrated its success in US and Mexico over the last 3 years. I started my summer internship at the firm’s headquarters located in San Francisco. After finishing a week-long orientation, I chose India as the focus of my summer project for it is the second largest and fastest growing smartphone market in the world, with over 190 million under-banked adults. Notably, it is also my home country.

My primary responsibility is to understand the mobile and consumer finance markets in India and the role PayJoy can play in expanding both markets. The startup environment has allowed for ample use of my creativity in thinking about innovative applications for our technology and the revenue models that would work with them. I also had the opportunity to observe the operational complexity of an ongoing pilot project with a large handset manufacturer, our existing partner in India, and propose ideas for product and process enhancements.

During my time in India, I visited a couple of stores to observe live sales of smartphones financed with PayJoy technology. I interacted with store promoters who were delighted with our product as it had enabled paperless checkout of financed phones and had increased store sales which are a factor in their commissions. On one of my visits, I happened to interact with an existing customer, Lalit, who candidly shared with me how the full-featured Android smartphone financed through PayJoy helped him transition from his earlier low-paying sales job to launching his own business of supplying Reverse Osmosis (RO) water purifiers.

Totally final

Meeting our customer, Lalit, at one of PayJoy’s live stores in Delhi

Lalit is a college dropout and used to make INR 20K/month (∼$300) on his previous job, that was inadequate to provide for his family of two dependents. He could not have afforded the INR 14K (∼$200) smartphone, nor did he have a healthy credit score to prove his creditworthiness. PayJoy enabled him to finance a smartphone with high-end specifications, which empowered him to promote his business on online advertising platforms, respond to sales queries from within a 10 km radius in real-time, learn about accounting and tax practices through e-tutorials, make and receive digital payments using NFC technology, and keep a tab on e-commerce flash sales. The new business has not only doubled Lalit’s earning potential, but with regular payment of EMIs he is building his credit score that would gradually get him included into the regular financial system. It is personally fulfilling to have the opportunity to work on a project that has the potential to impact millions of people like Lalit.

I am ever grateful to PayJoy’s leadership, business heads and the team in India for their constant support and encouragement in making this happen. I am confident that with such a motivated team and a technologically differentiated product, it would not be long before PayJoy realizes its global vision of onboarding the next billion. And, as technology and funds make their way into previously inaccessible corners of the world, millions like Bonga and Lalit, will begin to fuel their dreams.

I cannot believe that it’s been only two months of working with PayJoy, and I already have a bunch of incredible stories to share with my classmates once I am back at Yale to finish the rest of my MBA. I am glad that through my internship, I could not only channel my personal aspirations and business skills, but also uphold Yale School of Management’s mission: educating leaders for business and society.

My summer internship: helping the underbanked in Africa afford a smartphone and unlock access to finance

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First day, at PayJoy’s SF office

The summer finally came to California, but I’m now 10.5k miles or 21+ flight hrs away from Berkeley. I will spend my summer in the winter of Johannesburg in South Africa working with PayJoy, a company focused on technology and financial inclusion.

I’m personally interested in financial inclusion solutions because it is the baseline for any person to progress in life. Living in a cash-only environment with no access to credit is very expensive and risky. I experienced some of this in my childhood when at some point we had to rely on shark-lenders to cover expenses. I later learned more when I volunteered in a program in my home country of Peru that helps small entrepreneurs from the poorest areas of Lima to grow their businesses. Their main limitation was the lack of access to credit.

Seduced by this problem and the huge impact it has, I decided to shift my career from management consulting, which I had been doing for about five years, to FinTech. So, I joined EFL, a company that develops credit risks scores for people with little or no credit history using alternative data. In my two years there, I supported financial institutions mostly in Latin America to serve loans to the underbanked. It was very fulfilling to experience the social enterprise model where the company generates profits by solving a social problem.

While in EFL, I realized I wanted to expand my skills and experience, until that point focused mostly on operations and project management, to include growth strategy and entrepreneurship. Helping a company expand in emerging markets, and learning how to start a social enterprise, especially with a technology-based solution, were my main motivations to pursue business school. Those interests led me to Haas at Berkeley. During my first year at business school, I have explored the intersection of technology and social impact in FinTech. When recruiting time arrived, and I found PayJoy’s internship role description for Africa, I could not believe how much this opportunity perfectly matched to what I was looking for.

PayJoy has developed a technology that allows access to finance for the underbanked, beginning with financing a smartphone. A smartphone is one of those things that most of us take for granted, but in Africa only 28% of the population has one, meaning that 800 million of people rely on basic or featured phones which have none or limited Internet capabilities. We can’t imagine our lives without the Internet, but there are a lot of people around who live like that! Smartphones are expensive. For most people, it is equivalent to buying a first personal computer. The only way to get one is with credit, which most people can’t get. In Sub Saharan Africa 80% do not use formal or semi-formal financial services. If people are unbanked or don’t qualify for a formal credit, they can’t afford a smartphone.

With PayJoy, the price of the smartphone plus a markup is broken down in small installments without any additional interest rate. If the client does not pay, the phone is locked. So instead of charging late fees or higher interest rates that make it harder for the customer to repay, PayJoy locks the phone. With PayJoy’s innovative solution, the lender can finance smartphones to the underbanked controlling the risk of default, the retailer can sell more phones of higher value to more people who now qualify for this type of credit, and the customer can finally afford a high-end phone and build a good credit history.

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First day in Johannesburg, lunch with the Africa team

So here I am, in Johannesburg, feeling excited and challenged for the projects I will be working on. I’m sure it will be a great experience, moreover now that I have met the team: rockstars who are happy to belong to this family and are passionate about the mission of the company. They have given me a warm welcome and have offered me all their support to succeed and get the most of this experience.

Ten weeks left and counting! Can’t wait to write about my main takeaways from this internship.

Safari
First weekend: Safari time! at Pilanesberg National Park