StokFella: bringing financial inclusion to black people

One year after launching stokvel financial management app StokFella, founder Tshepo Moloi has added transactional banking services to its offering

Moloi says stokvels now have the option to deposit and withdraw their contributions at anytime.

“We’ve made developments to turn the app into a financial transaction solution where we have the ability to manage your money,” he explains. “It’s safe and secure, and whenever there’s a claim, you can get it whenever you want. Security measures are in place that require the approval of at least three individuals – the chairman, secretary-general and treasurer – in order for the funds to be accessed.”

As an extra layer of security, the app has even introduced one-time PIN technology on all transactions.

Later this year, Moloi plans to roll out a function whereby stokvel contributions accrue interest.

“We built up a user base of more than 500 groups in the space of one year, validating our assumptions about the lack of offering in this market. This traction informed our decision to release the next layer of the application, enabling stokvels to make transactions that offer long-term value to its members.”

READ MORE: How the StokFella app plans to tackle SA’s economic inequalities

His dream to drive financial inclusion – particularly among the rising black middle class and the millions of unbanked South Africans – will become a reality over the next year as his team begins work on building a credit-scoring model for people who don’t have a credit profile but want to take out a loan.

“At present, credit lenders want to know your credit score. They want to know your payment behaviour and whether you pay on time or not. As a result, a large portion of society is unable to access financing,” he says.

Because the StokFella app tracks every contribution made by members, when they’re paid – whether they’re paid late or on time or skipped a payment – the app has already captured all this information, so it’s just a matter of formalising the data into a scoring model that can be submitted to credit lenders as proof of a individual’s payment behaviour.

“More can be achieved to turn around the relationship that South Africans have with their finances,” he says. “We are targeting black households that are interested in building a financial portfolio, as the app looks to open the doors to greater market opportunities for those with informal saving vehicles.”