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E-susu aims to close the gap between community loan groups and traditional banking services

TechCrunch TechCrunch 8/05/2016 Natasha Lomas

An interesting hack presented on stage today at TechCrunch Disrupt New York 2016 is a platform for non-traditional banking services. Called e-susu, the app is designed for people who are involved with informal loan groups to help them better manage the process of lending money within a family or community group, as well as encouraging the saving process via increased transparency.

The platform lets users track how much money is owed within the group, when payments are due and when they have been paid. Users can also create goals to specify what they are saving for, and a group messaging feature is also included, while the team plans to also integrate the ability to make payments directly into the platform in future.

All sorts of cultures have some form of informal group loans for centuries to provide alternatives to traditional banking services, notes team member Nikki Puckett, 23, who when not attending tech hackathons works in finance. The name for these loan groups vary in different countries but susu is one example — hence the app being called e-susu.

“Sometimes people can get in trouble for participating in it because if they are at work and they are collecting money that can be seen as something illegal. This takes that risk away and brings it to online platform and puts everything in one spot, all the group knows exactly what’s going on. So we’re trying to create an easily accessible platform,” Puckett tells TechCrunch.

“Communities participate in banking services… but a lot of that is non-traditional. So we’re trying to bridge that gap by taking something that’s already done and just making it more visible, making it so that you can point to this and say now I can build credit because look at my history here.”

“This is something which you could go to a bank and say we have participated in a savings program,” she adds.

Puckett worked on the core concept and business planning for the team, as well as presenting the e-susu hack on stage.

Another member of the team, Mahdi Hamdi, a 28-year-old full stack developer, reckons that as well as serving groups of people who are excluded from banking credit, the platform could have wider appeal with young people generally — because he argues millennials don’t trust traditional financial institutions.

“I think millennials are shifting and renewing everything. Tourism now, people they don’t want to go to hotels, they want to stay with locals, even with finance — the shocking statistic I heard is that 73 per cent of millennials they prefer going to the dentist to going to a bank,” he tells TechCrunch. “We really don’t feel safe with these formal, financial institutions.”

The team say they plan to continue working on the app – having originally come up with the concept at a prior hackathon. TC Disrupt NY is the pair’s second hackathon.

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