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Case studies: Vodalend, Marcus, Facebook and Lidya.

Travel back with us for a moment to Buffalo, New York in 1850. US ideas of manifest destiny, and the acquisition by force and purchase of western lands drove a wave of settlers, mostly from Europe, towards the west coast. That westward expansion across the country had created a market for delivery services from the east coast to the west coast. Henry Wells, William Fargo and John Butterfield formed an express post service and called it American Express. When Wells and Fargo got as far as San Francisco, they saw a fresh opportunity for a west coast business and set up as Wells Fargo in 1852, offering banking and correspondent services alongside the Wells Fargo Pony Express.

The stagecoach is still the symbol of the bank.

But in New York a year later, fintech disruptors prepared to take on the ponies with the telegraph, establishing The New York and Western Union Telegraph business that became Western Union in the following years. All three businesses as we now know them are global financial services giants. American Express is still one of the biggest credit card issuer to business in the US and Wells Fargo is the largest SME lender in the country. It's no accident that several of our previous modules on SME banking have covered sectors that started as support services for SMEs in the area of payments, accounting, and logistics have evolved into SME lenders.

A case in point in this module is Lidya. Its co-founders first established ecommerce business Jumia Nigeria, and then moved on to solving a pain point for ecommerce: logistics. Experience with delivering commercial parcels as Africa Courier Express enabled the founders to start solving another problem: assessing companies for risk as clients. From that experience, Tunde Kehinde went on to create a digital lender based on the experience of developing risk assessment in a market with infrastructure challenges and minimal data. Initial success in Nigeria has encouraged Lidya to move into other markets, and it has targeted particularly the Czech Republic and Poland.

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