Today, the Africa-focused but U.S.-based unified financial data platform announced its seed round of $3 million. The investment, led by Radical Ventures, Raptor Group, Lateral Capital and EchoVC was closed in Q3 2020 and came after the fintech startup raised $500,000 in pre-seed two years ago. It further reflects the continued customer growth from banks, fintechs, credit bureaus and microfinance banks in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.
Founded by Brendan Playford and Cate Rung, Pngme started primarily as a lending platform in 2018. Playford, who grew up in the U.K., came to East Africa in 2007 to work on philanthropic biofield projects. He ended up writing short-term loans to entrepreneurs, particularly in Kenya and Tanzania, and during this time formed the basis for which he as CEO and Rung as COO founded Pngme.
“That was sort of the impetus we needed and also the experience of being credit invisible in the U.K. led Cate and me to found the company specifically focusing on providing access to finance to Africans,”.
According to Rung, the company’s initial thesis was that entrepreneurs didn’t get enough help, capital-wise. But going into 2019, when the company raised its pre-seed round, the founders realized another problem the lack of data infrastructure to access risk when giving out loans or capital.
Their stint in an accelerator based in Toronto, Canada helped to better understand the more valuable version of the company the B2C layer which connects entrepreneurs with finance or the data infrastructure layer to understand risk or a person’s financial identity.
“We were building two different companies at once, so we had to choose one path. We realised that the data infrastructure layer was critical and a massive pain point in most of sub-Saharan Africa,” the COO added.
Pngme had to make a swift pivot to the latter. Building this would have a much more significant impact. Being able to aggregate mobile money transactions, bank transactions, loan data, behavioural data, process all that data into a structured format and make it available as an open API to developers, fintechs or banks across the continent will provide data to power real-time credit and new financial products.
Additionally, the company found out in the course of building that consumers want to understand their finances more. This helps to navigate their way to financial wellness using credit and, later, more sophisticated products. On the other hand, financial institutions need the data to know what customer segments to expand to or increase their bottom line. Therefore, placing emphasis on the customers’ needs is one of the company’s core value propositions.
“We’re hyper-focused on providing the highest real-time data coverage on credit-invisible customers, something that no other API is offering in our markets,” said Playford regarding the company’s consumer-centric play.