International Finance
Featured Fintech

Start-up of the Week: Optasia & AI route to enhance MENA’s financial inclusion

IFM_Optasia
Optasia reportedly enables credit decisions for a monthly average of 88 million customers and had over 560 million addressable subscribers in 2021

Optasia (formerly known as Channel VAS), through the help of AI, is now enabling instant access to financial solutions for millions of under-banked individuals and SMEs across over 30 countries, including the ones in the MENA.

Optasia’s AI-led data engine and proprietary algorithms analyze alternative data from mobile and other digital ecosystems to provide relevant instant credit decisions to its partners, including mobile network operators, mobile money operators, banks, and payment gateways.

Using AI To Open New Revenue Streams

Established in 2012 and headquartered in Dubai (with Athens being the new operational hub), Optasia reportedly enables credit decisions for a monthly average of 88 million customers and had over 560 million addressable subscribers in 2021.

In 2023, the venture opened its business in Congo through a partnership with VodaCash, a Vodacom Congo subsidiary.

Optasia empowers its clients with a versatile and data-driven B2B2X (business-to-business-to-customers and SMEs) financial platform, which helps mobile wallet operators and financial institutions to come up with accurate credit scoring patterns.

In 2022 alone, Optasia enabled credit decisions for an average of 103 million customers a month, as it is continuously working with ‘Tier-1 Distribution Partners’ and ‘Financial Services Partners’ in over 30 countries, apart from having an impressive portfolio of over 750 million accessible subscribers.

Optasia, which has a long line-up of banking and telecom partners like MTN, Ecobank, Airtel, Robi, Access Bank, and Vodafone, states, “1.7 billion adults, most of them in emerging markets, remain underbanked, without proper access to traditional financial establishments. We are here to bridge this gap by empowering our partners to provide credible financial solutions where they are needed the most. Emerging markets are a space of clear opportunities to support local populations and SMEs, while enabling our partners to grow.”

Through its partners, the venture enables micro-financing solutions to underbanked and unbanked populations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Optasia’s B2B2X platform helps the fintech venture to build and offer tailor-made financial solutions for both individual consumers and enterprises.

“We have been chosen as an investment opportunity by top firms such as Abu Dhabi’s Waha Capital in 2017, and Ethos, a leading South African investment company in late 2018. The company also obtained ISO 27001 Certification in late 2021,” the venture stated further.

Optasia’s platform-as-a-service features advanced capabilities based on learnings from multiple deployments and client engagements across the mobile and banking industries. The fintech platform then helps its client businesses to optimize their campaigns, limit infrastructure costs and seek to maximize their monetization potential.

Apart from offering multiple financial products from the same platform, Optasia’s platform-as-a-service comes with features like real-time profiling and credit scoring, configurable remarketing campaigns and supporting all types of credit products, including BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later).

Optasia’s ‘Enabled Solutions’

Optasia’s micro-lending solutions can be quickly embedded in the client business’ ecosystem and give life to a growing number of highly composable products that address the credit needs of these ventures’ customer base.

Optasia’s embedded finance solution streamlines the offering of micro-lending products, in a digital-first model.

“Smarter lending starts with better decisioning, which is delivered by the AI-led, cutting-edge proprietary credit decision engine, the heart of our solution. It pulls thousands of data points to provide real-time approval of loan applications while satisfying the most demanding underwriting requirements,” the fintech platform stated.

Optasia’s bullet/instalment-based micro-loans for retail and merchant segments instantly get approved and disbursed to a store of value like a mobile wallet or bank account. These loans also deliver a seamless check-out-on-credit experience for the wallet user.

Optasia’s ‘XtraFone’ is a device financing product which comes with built-in capabilities of device management and locking, thus covering a wide range of device manufacturers. ‘XtraPay’, on the other hand, is a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) product for online and in-store payments. Last but not least, we have ‘XtraFloat’, an overdraft credit product for merchants/agents, which is basically a very high digital wallet activity designed to enable transactions when the customer is out of funds.

Optasia’s other flagship financial solution is ‘Airtime Advance Solutions’, which the venture states as “airtime, data and package (bundle) advance solutions for mobile network operators. Our flexible go-to-market solutions are powered by an AI-led technology platform that delivers real-time scoring, supports omnichannel delivery and allows implementation of contextual and personalized marketing.”

“For prepaid subscribers, being able to continue making calls or using data services when they are running low on balance, makes all the difference. Our airtime advance solution safely extends airtime capitalizing on our proprietary AI-led scoring and decisioning engine. Moreover, it manages the interaction with the subscribers across all channels through personalized offerings,” it states further.

The marketing of the Airtime Advance Service is an integral part of Optasia’s financial solution. It targets the individual subscriber level. The fintech platform brings its ‘High-Throughput Stream Analytics Technology’ that taps into the mobile network operator’s infrastructure and then translates real-time subscriber’s interaction with the network into actionable events.

Optasia currently has over 30 airtime advance solutions live worldwide.

Last but not least, let’s talk about Optasia’s ‘Data Monetization Solutions’, which is a ‘Turn-Key Product-as-a-Service’ solution for mobile network operators to leverage their data and create new revenue streams by serving the market with core financial infrastructure services.

The fintech platform dubs this solution as an elastic one for all mobile network operators. ‘Data Monetization Solutions’ gets deployed on-site and is capable enough to collect and digest data from the telecom operators’ resources.

Optasia In The News

VodaCash, a Vodacom Congo subsidiary, and Access Bank have been using Optasia’s AI-led platform’s capabilities to deliver their latest micro-lending solutions in Congo, since March 2023.

Optasia’s Micro Lending overdraft service is now offered in Congo through VodaCash under its branding M-Pesa, together with Access Bank as the financial partner, under the commercial name “M-Pesa Rallonge”. This offering will further enhance the African country’s financial inclusion, thereby opening up financial services to the underbanked populations in the remote areas of the country.

Optasia is now weighing strategic options, including a sale/initial public offering in the Middle East, as per the reports. The fintech venture has appointed global investment bank Moelis as an adviser.

What's New

Business Leader of the Week: Meet Leonid Mikhelson, CEO of Russian energy giant Novatek

IFM Correspondent

Saudi Arabia & Australia trade deal: All you need to know

IFM Correspondent

IF Insights: Will BoE react to plummeting UK inflation with rate cuts?

IFM Correspondent

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.