Uber Data Is Helping People Get Car Loans In Africa

Uber driver Michael Muturi in Kenya’s capital Nairobi has the chance to buy a car that would normally be out of reach thanks to a new bank loan program that uses data from the ride-hailing app to assess risk, Reuters reported.

“I felt like I won a jackpot,” said Muturi, who received an Uber message this month telling him his profile was good enough to apply for a car loan. “With my own car I will be able to afford a good house, take my kids to a good school and save for the future.”

Kenya’s Sidian Bank has approved at least 10 car loans for experienced Uber drivers using a model Uber hopes to roll out across Africa, where poor customer data limits lending, Reuters reported.

Getting loans is a major challenge for people and small business owners in Africa. Few people have bank accounts or a credit score and this prevents lenders from assessing risk.

Sidian’s financing is focused more on the applicant’s proven Uber experience than on his or her credit history, the bank CEO said, according to Mail&Guardian. “We expect speedy uptake of this financing package, with the entrenchment of Uber’s services in Kenya.”

Uber has 1,000 drivers in Kenya, and plans to add another 10,000 over three years. After 15 months of operation, Uber drivers sold 1 million rides. Demand is growing for the service in other cities, said Nate Anderson, Uber general manager for Kenya.

Uber’s app is a way for Uber drivers to accumulate data. The app registers customer satisfaction and provides the bank with data it needs to decide whether to offer Uber drivers relatively cheap loans to buy their own cars.