Software engineer Gaël Matina Egbidi and her team created the financial product in order to improve financial inclusivity.
Africa’s financial inclusion problem is significant - with at least 66% of the population estimated to be unbanked. West Africa has the highest banking fees in the world, with fewer than 10% of Togolese having a bank card. The lack of access to finances is problematic in several ways. In a region with small, isolated markets, minor changes in supply or demand can greatly impact households and small businesses that are not connected to the global economy. Without bank accounts, individuals struggle to access credit, or advance their careers beyond cash or mobile-money wages. Financial literacy, often overly technical and inaccessible, creates an additional barrier for unbanked communities to enter the global financial system and benefit from a large, connected market.
Launching in the first quarter of 2022, Solimi customers will be able to buy the card even if they don’t have a bank account, top it up it with money (cash, mobile money or through bank transfers), and make purchases both in-store and online. Because the card is supported by Visa, it gives customers who may not previously have even had a bank account access to the global economy, with purchases enabled anywhere ordinary Visa cards can be used.
Uniquely, the Solimi prepaid card allows users to convert mobile money to cash that can then be used to pay for purchases online or even drawn at a Visa-backed ATM. If a customer loses their card, they simply report it to Solimi to have it blocked, much like with an ordinary bank card. Cards can also be blocked via the Solimi mobile app.
Customers can have wages and salaries paid into the cards, send money to other Solimi customers or visa cards, buy groceries, fuel, goods and more in stores or online, and draw cash.
Using artificial intelligence, Solimi will analyse customer behaviour, predict purchases and help Egbidi and her team adapt their services to localised habits.
“We believe Solimi can have an enormous impact on both unbanked and low-income communities. By making financial inclusion far more affordable, as well as simpler and more versatile, we can walk together to a cashless world that works for everyone at every level of wealth.”
Gaël Matina Egbidi