Ecobank Kenya has announced a new neobank service, Fingo App. The lender, which is part of Ecobank Group, aims to fill the gap left by the rebranding of NCBA Loop, a digital bank by NCBA that previously allowed customers to send money to mobile wallets for free. This free service made it an attractive option for bargain-hunting young Kenyans but is no longer available. Loop is also perhaps the only digital bank that attracted a number of young users in a market where other similar products failed to gain traction.

The Fingo App has collaboratively been developed by Ecobank and Fingo Africa, a Kenyan fintech firm that was launched back in 2020. At the start of 2023, Fingo Africa received a licence from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) for online banking services. Fingo Africa has also had notable backing from investors and is said to be over $10 million in valuation.

Fingo App’s launch in Kenya makes sense in that the youth are always looking for a financial platform they can use with affordable charges. Fingo promises to offer more than that because users can be onboarded on the platform in a timely manner, which also adds another benefit to potential customers because they are not required to walk into a physical banking hall to open an account.

“Opening a bank account can be a lengthy process taking anywhere from two days to two weeks in some countries. Moreover, it may require multiple face-to-face interactions and the submission of physical paper documents. Often, consumers also face a steep fee when sending money to friends, loved ones, or businesses, in addition to other charges, just to keep their account active,” says Fingo Africa in a statement seen by TechCabal.

Customers, both on Android and iOS can set up their Fingo App account in under five minutes. The account will then see them access a bunch of services, such as sending money to mobile money wallets (M-PESA, for this case), pay bills through paybill and till numbers. Users can also send money to other Fingo App users for free, which is perhaps its biggest selling point.

“We are proud to support the deployment of the Fingo App, a game-changer in digital finance in Africa that brings many young people into the mainstream financial sector and caters to their needs and preferences. By simplifying access to finance, it overcomes the entrenched issues that have often acted as barriers to entry for young Africans. I want to thank our partner, Fingo, for driving such innovation that is aligned with one of our core missions to drive financial inclusion across the continent,” said Jeremy Awori, CEO, Ecobank Group.

Fingo App further simplifies savings by automating recurring transfers towards specific goals, simplifies payment collection with payment links, enables receipt of funds via QR code, and offers a cash reward for signing up.

Since Fingo Africa targets the youth in the continent, it has plans in the pipeline to launch in 32 other countries where Ecobank is also present.

It is not clear how Fingo App will address low financial literacy, especially for the youth, although it now has robust resources such as access to digital infrastructure by Ecobank. Fingo App has also successfully navigated regulatory barriers after it acquired the licence for its local operations from the CBK, which has been stringent to fintechs.

There are challenges with building trust with customers who may be skeptical of digital-only banks and concerns around data privacy and security (it is yet to ensure that financial data that goes through the Fingo App systems is encrypted). 

Fingo App will need to address these challenges to establish themselves as viable and sustainable digital bank, especially for people who are looking out for NCBA Loop replacement.  

Kenn Abuya Senior Reporter

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