New opportunities for the underbanked have arrived!

How is SympliFi helping underbanked communities in Nigeria to avoid transaction fees and get loans?
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Full transcript of the episode is available here.

Do you remember what transactions were like before internet banking? They were expensive, took multiple days to transfer, and had to be done directly from bank branches. But for some communities in 2021, this is still the norm.

Internet banking isn’t available in countries like Nigeria. In addition, families are hit with expensive currency conversion fees whenever they receive money from overseas relatives. Fortunately, companies like SympliFi are bringing change. And we were lucky enough to sit down with its co-founders, Gregoire and Maurice.

“We really tried to simplify a process that that can be seen as complex” – Gregoire Lecomte

The most moving part of our conversation was Maurice’s personal experience with underbanked. He explained that communities in developing countries experienced tremendous opportunities the moment they were given access to credit. 

That inspired SympliFi. Here’s how it works:

  • First, a family in Nigeria applies for loan on SympliFi web, which is connected to partnered banks in Nigeria.
  • During their application, the family involves a relative in a developed country who acts as their loan guarantor.
  • The guarantor receives a notification to download the SympliFi app and top it up with money, which is locked into a digital wallet.
  • From here, the Nigerian bank provides a loan to the family, and the guarantor earns interest on the money locked in the wallet (which can stay there for an indefinite time).

“You have people in the UK providing cash to their family members without ever having to move.” – Maurice Iwunze

The longer the money is locked in the wallet, the more the guarantor can earn. And based on the amount of locked money, the Nigerian bank can even provide multiple loans.

“It is a really powerful solution that just one collateral can enable your family member to get, one, two, three, or more loans. Whenever they need cash, they can just go to the bank and leverage that same one collateral instead of calling you.” – Maurice Iwunze

A critical point of SympliFi’s mission is providing Nigerian families with independence. Thanks to their system, Nigerian residents are empowered to gradually build a credit history with their bank, unlocking larger loans as needed.

If you want to hear more about SympliFi and its co-founders, our latest episode of Banking on Air is waiting for you. You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify or here:

WHERE TO LISTEN    

Full transcript of the episode is available here.

Here’s rundown of the episode:

  • 01:22 How was SympliFi created and what is its’ core business
  • 07:30 How are banks involved
  • 09:28 Light bulb moment of creating SympliFi
  • 12:30 How people in Nigeria use SympliFi
  • 15:10 Timeline of service release
  • 19:00 Partnership with AXA

Maurice IWUNZE – CEO | co-Founder
Maurice Iwunze has over 10 years of experience in financial services, investing, corporate finance and management consulting.
Prior to co-founding SympliFi, he was Head of M&A and Fintech Investments at Baobab Group, a PE-backed holding company that owns and operates banks in Africa and Asia.
Prior to Baobab, he worked in Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan covering the Financial Services sector, as well as Management Consulting at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Maurice holds an MBA from Columbia Business School

Gregoire LECOMTE – COO | co-Founder
Gregoire Lecomte has over 15 years of experience in Financial Services and Microfinance Investment.
Prior to co-funding SympliFi, he was Group Head of Treasury & Funding at Baobab Group, a PE-backed holding company that owns and operates banks in Africa and Asia.
Prior to Baobab, he worked as CIO of Azure Partners, a boutique Asset Management firm focused on Microfinance Investment with global coverage. He also worked for Credit Suisse and Ernst Young, in various credit-related activities for individuals and banks.
Gregoire holds an MBA from Hong Kong UST Business School


‘Banking on Air’ is the official Vacuumlabs podcast covering the challenges, opportunities, perspectives and opinions that matter to our community. The podcastlooks under the hood of the changing face of tech: the acceleration of all things digital, the impact of regulation (and disruption), the need for collaboration – and the spectrum of businesses competing to be fintech and financial service suppliers around the world.

This podcast is brought to you by Vacuumlabs.We’re sharing our experience and expertise in creating digital solutions for professionals, community banks, and fintechs. We believe that the future of digital transformation in financial services lies in communities.

We invite you to join us and our guests over the weeks and months to come.

About Vacuumlabs

Vacuumlabs provides teams of flexible software engineers and designers with years of experience building fintech, online marketplaces, and digital products. Every step of the way, Vacuumlabs experts collaborate with clients, so that they can move fast, learn and iterate as they build world-class products together.