First Access is a financial technology company that aims to use data to improve financial access in emerging markets. It has developed a customizable credit scoring platform for lending institutions, and has worked with microfinance institutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
First Access aimed to develop an agricultural credit scoring engine for use by financial service providers in agricultural markets. The company is currently offering a loan management system for rural MFIs.
Instead of developing the agricultural credit scoring platform as originally envisaged, First Access had to change its approach and offer MFIs digitizing/ automation services first as it found many MFIs were not ‘digital’, and hence they could not utilize the power of the company’s credit scoring platform. The product that First Access rolled out first was a loan management system to assist FSPs digitize their current loan processes. The platform is in use with different MFIs such as Access Bank Tanzania and Advance Bank Uganda.
Financial service providers have some catching up to do in order to fully utilize the power of systems such as those from First Access. Digitization also opens up these financial institutions to the possibility of taking on new innovative technologies not just alternative credit scoring platforms.
Small banks/MFIs face high operational costs and getting them to invest in purchasing technology solutions takes considerable effort and time. There is potentially a need for donor or other funding to supporting such institutions.