“I’ve always been incredibly fascinated by the relationship that people have with money and how it impacts them on a personal basis.”
Frustrated by the lack of access to formal credit for young adults in MENA and being rejected 17 times for a car loan, Maimoona Mohammed launched Finllect, a platform that helps users build a credit score, access credit and unlock better financial opportunities, in 2020.
“I actually bought my first car entirely in cash because I was so frustrated with having to deal with sales agents and being asked questions that did not speak to my actual credibility as a borrower or my ability to repay but were rather ridiculous like – are you working for a listed company? And a question that women particularly get asked – who’s going to sponsor your repayments? Well, I am! Who else?”
Unlike Western or Asian markets, the MENA region does not follow a transactional credit reference agreement, and a proper infrastructure for credit risk assessment did not exist as recently as five years ago. The infrastructure that does exist today is reliant on traditional financial data and makes credit inaccessible for most. Maimoona realised that this needed to change.
She wasn’t alone; CXOs in her team, and former fintech engineers she knew had similar experiences as they failed to qualify for the very credit card products that they helped build and launch in the region at payment processers, banking-as-a-solution providers, and legacy banks. The team got together to build an alternative cash-flow driven credit score using open banking that allowed customers to leverage their real-time transactional history, specifically micropayments, to build credit instead of analysing how much money borrowers have in their accounts and previous loans taken.
“The ability to access credit should be as simple as downloading a file from the internet. But if I said to you, I’m going to give you this file to download and I need you to follow 1500 steps before you do it, you probably don’t want to see what’s in the file anymore. That’s exactly what we wanted to do away with, so that we could create an end-to-end infrastructure and platform that allowed people to build, identify, report, manage and repair credit seamlessly on Finllect.”
‘Finllect is an application for consumers who are new to financial services or do not have a credit history to build a credit score and prequalify for credit. Instead of analysing income, credit history, or credit utilisation, Finllect enables thin file or no file consumers to build credit using recurring micropayments. Finllect’s data-sharing APIs report each applicant’s credit score to lenders to allow them to extend credit to next-gen (18 to 35-year-old consumers) and allows prospective borrowers to instantly qualify for credit without having to complete paperwork or rely on manual dependencies.
Before Finllect, Maimoona has advised port operators and ship brokers on the sale and purchase of assets and has extensively worked on arranging credit facilities and credit profiling with financial institutions in London and the Middle East. She currently runs Finllect out of Dubai.