South African fintech JUMO to expand in Asia with Goldman Sachs backing

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa-based financial technology firm JUMO plans to expand in high-growth Asian markets after securing the backing of Goldman Sachs GS.N in an equity funding round, the company's chief executive said.

FILE PHOTO: An illuminated building is seen on the eve of the Independence Day in Islamabad, Pakistan August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo

Since its founding in 2014, JUMO, which helps individuals and small businesses access savings and credit products through their mobile devices, has mainly focused on Africa where the adoption of mobile money has transformed the banking landscape.

Headquartered in Cape Town, JUMO has offices in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Zambia and the United Kingdom.

But it now operates in Pakistan, and CEO Andrew Watkins-Ball recently moved to JUMO’s Singapore office to lead the drive into Asia.

“That doesn’t mean though we won’t be expanding in Africa,” Watkins-Ball told Reuters in an interview. “But the majority of our allocation of resources going forward we would expect to be in very high-growth Asian markets.”

Led by Goldman Sachs’ first-time investment in the company, JUMO raised $52 million in the fundraising round. Other investors included Proparco, Finnfund, Vostok Emerging Finance, Gemcorp Capital, and LeapFrog Investments.

JUMO uses behavioural data such as mobile telephone use to help financial services providers and mobile network operators assess lending risk and tailor financial products to those living in developing countries where credit information is scarce.

Watkins-Ball said that the financial services sectors of a number of Asian markets are at similar stages of development to the African countries where JUMO has already registered success.

More than 9 million people have saved or borrowed using JUMO technology since it was launched in 2014. The platform has originated over $700 million in loans and manages over 25 million customer interactions per month, the company said.

“There is immense opportunity across Africa and beyond for JUMO to build on their successful track record developing digital marketplace infrastructure,” Goldman Sachs executive director Jules Frebault said.

JUMO's partners include telecoms firms MTN MTNJ.J, Airtel BRTI.NS, Telenor TEL.OL and banks including FNB, a unit of South Africa's FirstRand FSRJ.J, and Pakistan's Telenor Microfinance Bank.

Reporting by Joe Bavier, editing by Louise Heavens