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Africa Courier Express (ACE) co-founders, Tunde Kehinde and Ercin Eksin just announced the impending launch of Lidya, a financial services platform that’ll provide unsecured loans of between $500 and $15,000 to SMEs in Africa.

Lidya is going to be a “digital bank” (i.e. no physical branches) and users will be able to do everything they normal would with a bank – open accounts, save money, build credit profiles and have access to loans.

There are more than half a billion mobile subscribers in Africa today and Tunde believes this is a sign that digital banking is the next step for Africa. His words; “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.”

Starting next month, Lidya will be open to the public and they’ll be partnering with Nigerian banks so they can target SMEs better. Tunde says, “Because of how the banks are set up, with bricks and mortar networks, they’re more inclined to service multinationals and large government institutions. Their cost structure isn’t favorable to servicing small businesses. Because we’re using technology and algorithms to assess the risk, it allows them to offer financial products to these customers at a low cost.”

Oyebode Fajobi is the Country Manager for Lidya, and the company plans to raise about $1 million from investors in the U.S. over the next few months.

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