The latest initiative in Experian’s fight to tackle financial exclusion globally
Experian South Africa has launched a new smartphone app, GeleZAR, that aims to bring more people into the mainstream economy. The name of the app is South African slang for ‘learning about money’ and it has been developed to help micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSME) gain basic financial education skills, get the credit score they deserve and access affordable credit to grow their businesses.
GeleZAR has been developed to help such entrepreneurs. It is a mobile phone app designed to provide financial education and credit scoring to micro-entrepreneurs and individuals to ensure that they get the credit score they deserve. With their permission, micro-entrepreneurs will be able to build an alternative credit score using hundreds of mobile data points through the GeleZAR app, to determine creditworthiness. The app also advises individuals on how to maintain good credit health and recommends remedial actions, such as seeking a debt counsellor, if the need arises.
Micro, small and medium sized enterprises are the ‘unseen sector’ of the South African economy. According to a 2018 report by the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), the total size of South Africa’s MSME market is 5.78 million enterprises, of which only 14% is formalised. The sector only grew in population by 15% between 2008 and 2017, which is a reflection of the low survival rate, and almost stagnant growth rate of these entrepreneurs within this sector. According to the study, this can be directly attributed to the difficulties experienced when attempting to access to finance because 75 percent of MSME credit applications are rejected and only two percent are able to access bank loans.
“GeleZAR is a great example of how Experian is innovating to find new ways to empower our customers while uplifting societies. It also fulfils our passion for financial inclusion and the accurate assessment of affordability. Through our pioneering work we hope to build and improve the credit files of millions of people in South Africa and beyond,” adds Rudman.
Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to have 500 million smartphone subscribers by 2020 . Experian saw this as a significant opportunity to reach these people and so the GeleZAR app was created with a local South African consumer and fintech developer.
To test the technology and user reception, Experian is working with one of the largest low-cost mobile phone retailers in Africa to trial the app which has been pre-installed on a range of its entry-level smartphones. Should the experiment prove to be successful, the intention is to extend the rollout and make the app accessible for free in more than six million devices annually.
 According to a 2017 report by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association
Source: Experian South Africa