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Digital Financial Services Lab (DFS), an earl-stage incubation vehicle funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has announced its planned investment of $250,000 in four FinTech startups in developing markets.

DFS seeks out promising startups that have the potential of encouraging and sustaining entrepreneurial activities in the low-income brackets in developing nations by providing innovative solutions to their socio-economic challenges.

Founded in 2015, DFS has so far invested over $600,000 in 8 startups from across the globe. For the year 2017 edition, DFS finalists were nine startups from six countries; USA, Canada, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and India.

These eight startups went through a rigorous one-week boot camp geared towards refining their products before they were presented before DFS Lab’s board of experts in Negombo, Sri Lanka. On top of getting financing, the startups will also get six months intensive mentorship, leading to their integration into an international network of top experts who are willing to mentor and guide them through their growth.

We are excited to have the opportunity to invest in companies that are focusing on consumers in emerging markets. Expanding access to digital financial services, especially for unbanked populations, can transform people’s lives by providing them with money management tools that most of us take for granted. The companies we are investing in are creating cutting edge solutions that enable the delivery of financial services to low-income people around the world. We look forward to working with them,” said Jake Kendall, the DFS Director.

These startups include:

Teller: A machine learning and artificial intelligence powered banking assistant that let customers bank via popular messaging platforms; SMS, WhatsApp, and Messenger. The app does not need you to download additional apps to conduct your AI-powered banking. It features a chatbot that can answer hundreds of questions touch on financial matters, savings, budgeting, and how one can improve their credit score.

Pula: They act as intermediary for agriculture insurance, where they leverage on big data to assists hundreds of thousands of farmers from across six countries in Africa to plan their activities for optimum profit.

Pezesha: a peer-to-business microlending platform that uses analytics to match lenders to borrowers; but only creditworthy borrowers. As it works out, it gives small startups looking for credit to expand their operations.

Inclusive: They have an API that gives the financial identities of people/institutions around Africa. Financial institutions can plug the API and access their digital channels and get seamless user onboarding and eliminate redundant identity checks, gain access to quality and secured data sources. It will go a long way in reducing cases of fraud and improve investigations for a high level of security.

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