The emergence of fintechs, otherwise known as digital banks, in recent years, has changed the dynamics of banking. Traditional banks had no option but to embrace technology and innovate because fintechs were disrupting the market.
While traditional banks deserve some accolades for digitizing some of their operations, they are still trailing in the aspect of making finance (loans) accessible to customers. The processes involved in accessing a loan from deposit banks are time-consuming and almost impossible.
However, a digital bank like Carbon, which has been in operation for the last 10 years, has been on the front burner, disrupting and innovating its offerings to Nigerians.
Accessing Loans from Carbon
Carbon’s major goal is to empower all people with financial access. Its loan process is designed to fit customers’ needs with a low-interest rate.
As a digital lender, it issues funds in an unsecured loan based solely on the borrower’s creditworthiness and promises to repay.
“Access to finance is one of our biggest achievements in the last 10 years,” Chijioke Dozie, Co-founder & CEO of Carbon, said.
“If you look back 10 years ago… If you ask a 22-year-old on the street right now where she can get financing, she will probably know and rattle off a list of all the fintech companies that will give her a loan. Ten years ago, that was not the case.”
Chijioke argued that people who were gainfully employed couldn’t get access to finance at the touch of a button 10 years ago.
Deposit banks do not believe Nigerians are credit-worthy, but Carbon has assessed about 4 to 5 million people for loans, and Nigerians are paying them back.
“But I think the fact that we’ve been lending for 10 years is a testimony that Nigerians do pay back if you have good credit processes in place. And that’s something we also found out ourselves.
The digital bank conducted data collection and analysis from about 5 banks and discovered that most Nigerians who were indebted wanted to pay back but were constrained by the payback modalities.
Before we started carbon, we started a debt collection business, and when we were dealing with Nigerian debt, we realized a lot of people wanted to pay, but the banks had not set it up so they could easily repay the money back. “
“So, I think, you know, the ease of how people get money today. I think this is one of our legacies, we made it accessible.
We’ve shown other financial institutions, especially banks, that you know, Nigerians are creditworthy because, you know, we just felt that the situation where banks will take your money, take your salary, keep it and won’t even give you a basic loan.
“So they trust you enough to take your money, but they don’t trust you enough to give you back to give you something or to give you a loan. We thought that was unacceptable.
“And when carbon started, we were giving money to people who had never banked with us. We were the ones giving them the money, not them,” he said.
Other digital banks give loans to customers, but a striking difference is that Carbon does not send unsolicited messages to the contacts of defaulters—a phenomenon that has been described as an invasion of privacy.
Focus & Value Propositions
Being customer-centric is a journey we are on, and we are making sure that all products and services are specifically tailored towards satisfying our customers, Chijioke said.
“I think for us, you know, we want to distinguish ourselves by being customer-centric, and that’s a long journey. I don’t think any company can say that they have achieved customer centricity. So, for us, it’s a focus.”
Ngozi Dozie, Co-founder & Managing Director at Carbon, believes that there is no traditional bank that offers the types of customer-centric packages it provides to customers.
“Every month in carbon, every customer that has a current account balance with us will get the interest rate. There is no management fee; there is no fee for anything.
Unlike in other banks, where customers are debited at the end of the month, here every customer is getting their credit. There is no bank right now.”
According to Dozie, Carbon is doing several things in terms of innovation that put it ahead of its current banking competitors and is poised to do more.
“When we started, they said customers were never going to pay back. We proved them wrong. They said we couldn’t give loans to customers. They said we couldn’t offer a free payment plan. We proved them wrong.”
He said that as core bankers and revolutionaries, Carbon is constantly looking to push the barriers and make sure that it’s all about the customers.
If you’ve banked with any of our competitor banks for X years, and they can’t give you an unsecured loan or a free account, then we think something’s wrong.”
Furthermore, on offerings, Dozie said Carbon gives 1% cashback on all debit card payments, even if a customer spends up to 1 million Naira.
“There is no bank right now that allows you to go to a restaurant, use a POS, and spread that payment over six weeks immediately from your app.”
“There’s no bank that tells you that it gives an instant refund. If you send the payment and it fails, you get an instant refund from Carbon.”