IBM and Emkan Finance Develop Small Business Digital Lending Product

Emkan Finance and IBM have developed a digital financing product for small businesses in Saudi Arabia.

In announcing the collaboration on Thursday (Feb. 7), IBM stated that the partnership would enable Emkan Finance to provide small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with financial support digitally.

The self-service digital financing product leverages an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered credit and decision-making engine to enable end-to-end digital services, including new customer registration and loan disbursement, IBM stated in a press release. 

As PYMNTS has reported, FinTechs are increasingly turning to AI to expand access to credit in emerging markets.

AI developers like IBM use machine learning in their credit decision engines to automatically approve applications for loans, helping to approve them faster and extend credit to borrowers that might otherwise be excluded.

In one recent partnership, the Dubai-based AI company Optasia teamed up with Ecobank and MTN to offer micro-loans to MTN’s customers in Guinea. Through the partnership, Ecobank provides the capital, MTN mobile money handles disbursement and Optasia’s AI platform accesses the risk of non-payment and facilitates the approval process. 

Commenting on the launch of IBM and Emkan Finance’s new product, Fahad Alanazi, general manager at IBM Saudi Arabia, said, “this collaboration is another example of IBM’s commitment to helping our clients in Saudi Arabia unlock the full potential of digital technologies. We are delighted to have collaborated with Emkan Finance to deliver the industry’s hybrid cloud and AI experience that will bolster the Kingdom’s growing [SMB] space.”

Saud Al Ghonaim, CEO at Emkan Finance added that “working together with IBM, we have built a novel product that will play a key role in transforming the Kingdom’s [SMB] space.”

Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), FinTech lenders are stepping up to plug the SMB finance gap and create an alternative lending model that isn’t centered on bank loans.

For example, the Egyptian FinTech MNT-Halam recently secured $400 million in funding to increase access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the country. With its mission to “digitally bank the unbanked,” MNT-Halam provides a range of digital financial services, including microfinance and SMB lending, alongside consumer credit and payment services. 

 For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA Newsletter.