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How Ivory Coast’s Djamo has expanded to become a personal finance super-app

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Ivory Coast-based fintech Djamo’s first product was a Visa-powered card for digital payments, but it has gradually added other financial services to become the one-stop personal finance partner for consumers. 

Hassan Bourgi and Régis Bamba started thinking about Djamo in 2020, having experience and knowledge in adjacent spaces, but having started with a simple focus has now broadened its horizons.

The startup’s other products include salary accounts, automated spending categorisation that offer insightful information about budgeting, and an automated saving product that offers guidance into customers’ financial objectives. 

“These are deeply disruptive as it is unprecedentedly cheap amongst the existing solutions and offers true value to our customers to better manage their money,” Bourgi said.

Djamo’s app also allows for interoperability between banks and mobile money, meaning that its customers in Ivory Coast can send money from their bank accounts to mobile money wallets, and back. It has since leveraged this characteristic to build a full suite of financial services.

“With 750,000 accounts created across Ivory Coast, we are becoming top of mind of those customers when it comes to banking, and we are gradually introducing other personal finance products to help them grow their savings and start investing into regional mutual funds,” said Bourgi. 

“We are providing financial services for the underbanked and unbanked population of French-speaking markets, where fewer than 25 per cent of adults have bank accounts, competing with outdated and expensive financial services provided by incumbent banks that do not offer a seamless, digital, affordable and convenient user experience.”

Bourgi says the goal is not necessarily trying to digitise cash, which is well served by mobile money, but rather to work on the personal finance side where customers are still very underserved digitally. 

“Djamo seeks to become the one-stop personal finance partner for its customers,” he said.

In 2021, the startup was accepted into Y Combinator, the well-known incubator from Silicon Valley, the first company from Ivory Coast to achieve this. 

“In 2022, we have raised US$14 million in funding from the famed accelerator, as well as from other amongst the best funds including Enza Capital, Oikocredit and Partech Africa,” said Bourgi.

Uptake has been “exponential”.

“In less than three years, we have become Ivory Coast’s leading card issuer, well in front of major banks. Beside that the intensity of usage is growing month after month as we continue adding new services around payments and the cards. One thing that we are very proud of is that the majority of our new users had never had a payment card before Djamo as this product is difficult to access for the underbanked,” Bourgi said.

Djamo is currently expanding to new markets in the WAEMU region.

“We’re taking an intelligent approach to market sequencing, our ambition is to cover the major countries of the WAEMU zone where the financial regulation is unified and expand to other French-speaking African countries in the future that are interesting in terms of size or market stage, like the DRC and Cameroon,” said Bourgi.

Djamo’s business model is built mainly on interchange, floating, pay out and subscription fees. 

“People see more and more value in our product as we’re adding features, which is reflected in our high percentage of paid subscribers. All of this allowed us to have a double digit monthly revenue growth over the last twelve months,” Bourgi said.

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