Fintech, Ofin, tackles behavioural changes needed to address financial inclusion

It is a common belief that financial access should lead to financial prosperity. According to the World Bank, financial inclusion is defined as all people and businesses having access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs. Sakhile Mabena, CEO, Ofin, a venture-backed fintech startup specialising in Behavioural Data Analytics, Financial Process Automation, Behaviour-based Financing and SME Behaviour Nudges, says that to successfully address financial inclusion in Africa it is important to address the financial behaviours and leverage technology to better enable users to become more bankable.

Sakhile Mabena
South Africa
11 June 2021
Photograph: John Hogg

Mabena, previously a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, has together with his team, developed an app that focuses on changing financial behaviour, which will ultimately and more effectively address financial inclusion: “OFIN is a first of its kind mobile app aimed at South African distribution operators, trucks and drivers. The app looks to automate financial health based on behavioural changes.”

Two years in the making, Mabena says that the app uses an online marketing technique called gamification, which encourages engagement with a product or service. By gamifying financial spend, he says they hope to encourage usage and a better understanding of the plight of the financial excluded: “While Ofin is ultimately a financial-inclusion app, its aim is to not only assist logistics business to run more profitably, but more importantly its intention is to uplift and educate drivers to better manage the truck, and ultimately create a business where there was once just a single truck.”

In simple terms, Mabena says that Ofin is the difference between just driving the truck versus owning it and ultimately building a fleet: “The Ofin app focuses on three aspects for the driver: to save on expenses, to make the participant lendable and to automate and improve on cost cutting such as fuel and tyres.”

Ofin is collaborating with oil company and tyre manufacturers to offer incentives, fuel rebates and loyalty programmes. It is also building a peer-to-peer network between the registered users and encouraging enough interaction to eventually develop a fruitful ecosystem for all involved.

“We also work with large enterprises who want to reduce risk, lower costs and increase demand flexibility with or for transport operators who form part of their supply chain. Currently, we have trials running with two leading breweries to fine-tune the mechanics of the app.”

This clever use of technology is rapidly becoming a key driver of financial inclusion. Based on the rapid expansion of mobile phone usage among people of all income levels, fintech’s such as Ofin are able to reach and deliver services to the underbanked more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever before.