Lagos-based digital credit services startup closes $13m ‘series A round’

Mines has closed a Series A round of $13 million led by The Rise Fund, a global fund managed by TPG Growth. The fintech startup re-inventing credit in emerging markets, provides a Credit-as-a-Service digital platform that enables institutions in emerging markets to offer credit products to their customers.

“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,” explains Ekechi Nwokah, Mines CEO. “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.”

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 participated in the funding, which Mines plans to use for talent acquisition, continued growth in Africa, and expansion to South America and South-East Asia.

Series A round of financing is the first round of financing that a startup receives from a venture capital firm i.e. the first time when company ownership is offered to external investors. This is generally done by allotting preferred stock.

Already, the startup has serviced more than 1 million customers in Nigeria since launching in 2017. It has partnered with mobile operators 9mobile and Airtel, payment processors Interswitch and NIBSS, along with several banks to become the leading provider of consumer credit in the country.

“What 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,” says Chief Scientist Kunle Olukotun. “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.”

By mining high-volume data like phone records, bank records, and payment transactions in real-time, Mines can instantly assess credit risk in markets that lack robust credit bureau infrastructure. It then integrates its risk models with identity, origination, payments, loan lifecycle management, and customer service to form a holistic platform. The net result is a seamless user experience where partners’ customers can apply for and receive a loan in less than 60 seconds or make instant purchases with virtual or physical credit cards.

A statement by Mines explained that the startup began as a research project on high performance artificial intelligence led by Olukotun, a professor of computer engineering at Stanford University. Meeting Nwokah, a computer scientist working on big data projects at Amazon Web Services was a defining moment for the thriving financial services company. The duo teamed up to direct the technology towards solving the grand challenge of financial access, having grown in Africa where several technology companies have failed in solving problems due to a lack of deep respect for the complexities of local culture, which required solutions to be tailor-made.

As part of the financing, Yemi Lalude from TPG Growth and Willem Willemstein from Velocity Capital have joined Mines’ Board of Directors.


Also published on Medium.