Umba, a digital bank for emerging markets, has begun operations in Kenya, with a view to expanding across the continent.
Umba, a Nigerian digital bank, has announced that it is opening operations in Kenya as a first step toward regional expansion. The startup aims to ease interactions between consumers and SMEs and banks and mobile money networks.
Umba: Low-fee, transparent services
Umba seeks to provide a transparent, low-fee service that simplifies financial dealings for individuals and SMEs. Users will gain a no-fee current account and access to low-cost payments, bill paying services and loans. Umba will also use proprietary data generated by customers to offer credit products and generate revenue where customers can receive and repay credit products through their mobile phones.
The move into Kenya
Thanks to the acquisition of a majority holding in Daraja Microfinance Bank, Umba can offer banking services in Kenya, including current accounts insured by the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC), interest-bearing savings accounts, fixed deposit accounts, lending, and payments.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity we have been given to bring Umba to the Kenyan market. It’s been an extremely challenging and lengthy process to make this acquisition but the ability to stand on our own two feet and grow the bank into a serious player in the market is absolutely worth it,” said Umba CEO Tiernan Kennedy. “We’re very thankful to the Central Bank, the shareholders at Daraja and our market expansion team at Umba for making this happen. Kenya needs a great digital bank to offer the services that customers want, without the massive fees they have been paying to the legacy players. The winners here will be who provides the best services and we’re confident in our team’s ability to deliver.”
Umba has the backing of a range of fintech investors, including Costanoa Ventures, Lux Capital, Palm Drive Capital, strategic angels including Monzo founder Tom Blomfield and executives from NuBank. Chandaria Capital is also a backer, and strongly supported the Kenya launch.
“We’re delighted to see Umba launch in Kenya. We invested with the knowledge that they had a unique entry point into the Kenyan market, as well as a strong business in Nigeria. We believe that Umba brings a really strong offering to consumers and businesses. The team has been shipping value to their customers’ month over month and the result is an excellent product. Going from one country to two can be a big challenge, but the opportunity is huge when executed well. We’re excited to continue supporting this team and this market opportunity,” said Mark Selcow of Costanoa Ventures.