Tech Pitch: AinFin
Currently making its mark in Africa, this fintech start-up aims to bring digital banking to millions in remote communities across the globe
Company name: AinFin Ltd
Founders: Dr. Jocelyn Braun (53) and Linus Etube (47)
Backgrounds: Before founding AinFin Braun worked in financial services, specifically asset management. In October 2015 she started to explore start-ups in fintech, and in June 2016 set up what is now AinFin Ltd together with partner Linus Etube.
Etube has worked in investment management and private banking, and before founding AinFin, he was advising institutional clients and developing an open framework for real-time settlement and reconciliation of mobile-enabled payments.
Based in: Level39, Canary Wharf
Launched: June 2016, then launched Swifin in Uganda in November 2016.
Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?
- AinFin is a financial technology company that aims to support the move towards a cashless society by providing digital banking services to millions around the world.
- AinFin’s product, Swifin, offers a unique, multi-channel approach to financial inclusion, offering all possible access channels instantaneously: online, app, card, SMS, agent, POS and API.
- It combines core banking software with the latest open-network and cloud technologies to create a world-class stack for real-time financial transactions, with 24/7/365 availability, security and flexibility.
Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?
The World Bank estimates that there are approximately 2 billion unbanked people worldwide. AinFin believes that financial inclusion is a powerful tool for economic development and wealth creation for individuals, particularly those who do not have access to traditional banking.
Through Swifin, we will be enabling communities – wherever they are – to grow and flourish, by creating sufficient liquidity through access to efficient payments.
AinFin’s current focus is in Africa where the mobile money market is ripe for disruption. The current banking infrastructure is undergoing rapid transformation, and take up of mobile bank accounts is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else across the globe.
The value of our product Swifin to the African market is massive as it solves a wide range of payment issues. Seamless transactions and convenient, affordable cross-network, cross-border and cross-currency solutions have been lacking. A major problem has been a lack of ‘interoperability’, with the current service providers offering platforms exclusively for their products, forcing people to carry around multiple devices.
Swifin solves this problem by operating through an interoperable system, with users, partners and third party service providers bringing services to clients through a shared platform. Combined with the business model to service an agency banking system, AinFin reaches out to the last mile of the customer who has not been part of the formal baking system and who has been paying much more for the same payments service that many developed-market individuals take for granted.
The positive impact of mobile money and the move towards a cashless society is well-documented, and we aim to utilise our success in Africa to broaden Swifin's benefits to other regions across the globe.
Is AinFin funded?
Yes, we have received £245,000 in seed funding, however we are preparing for the next funding round.
What were you doing before you started AinFin?
Braun: My career is really a mixture of being an academic and a finance industry practitioner. I started my career in economic development and policy, and then moved on to do academic work in economics and finance to earn a PhD in the subject from Kassel University in Germany.
I decided, after becoming a professor in Germany, that the London financial hub was where I wanted to be. So I completed an executive MBA at London Business School and soon after joined ABN Amro Asset Management, before it was acquired by the RBS-consortium.
My next move was to help build an MSc finance programme for BPP Business School, after which I decided to return to the finance industry where I became the head of strategy and product at Old Mutual Global Investors, responsible for – among other things – the management of a £24bn product range.
Etube: I was born in Cameroon and therefore have witnessed first-hand the impact of poor access to financial transaction services on economic growth and wealth creation, so I’m determined to change that through the creation of a global open transaction exchange that enables access to financial services to even those in the most remote communities.
I started my career in investment management and private banking and was a co-founding partner and CIO at Clerville Investment Management in addition to founding Sedel Capital LLP, which is where I developed an open framework (iWinPay/Swifin) for real-time settlement and reconciliation of mobile-enabled payments for any mobile, any network, anywhere.
I have also designed and delivered courses on the principles of banking and finance in some of the UK's leading higher education institutions, and have a PhD in engineering from University College London and a MBA from Imperial College London.
What’s the best thing about being based in Canary Wharf?
It is so great to be around other passionate entrepreneurs wanting to impact the world. Level39 is a great hub that allows us to meet a great many different companies and individuals from all over the world, keeping us up to date with technological developments and giving us a platform to showcase our company and what we do.
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