Previously, our typical product prototype lifecycle was about three months, but we’ve cut that to several weeks by running on AWS. As a result, we’re more agile and thus also more competitive.
Olawale Olaleye Cloud Infrastructure Manager

Based in Nigeria, OneFi provides loans to customers throughout Africa. The company offers small loans quickly to the financially underserved mass-retail segment through the Paylater mobile app and other solutions and services.

OneFi has global ambitions. Established in 2012, the Nigeria-based company, which provides individuals and small businesses with a range of financial services from lending to investing, wanted to launch its brand across other countries, starting in Africa. However, the firm’s reliance on slow, manual business processes was holding it back.

To get approval for a loan, for example, a customer would have to visit a regional OneFi office, fill out a paper form, and wait for the information to be validated. Similarly, one of the company’s employees had to physically go out to validate customer addresses and identity information. This meant it took up to two days to authorize a loan for a customer. “Because our operations were labor-intensive, we were limited to processing about 500 loans every week,” says Wale Olaleye, OneFi’s cloud infrastructure manager. “To reach more customers and deliver new products to market, we needed to automate our application and verification processes.”

An additional challenge was ensuring compliance with regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.

To support its growth plans and compliance requirements, OneFi decided to move to the cloud. The company chose to go all-in on Amazon Web Services (AWS), selecting AWS over Microsoft Azure. “Compared to Azure, AWS offered better reliability and scalability, and we also felt confident in its security capabilities,” says Olaleye.

OneFi moved its loan-processing platform to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances in less than 10 days, and it uses Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) to run and scale its 21 containerized applications on AWS. “Since we moved to the cloud, everything we do—including managing many of our mission-critical workloads—is in containers, so Amazon ECS helps us easily manage the entire infrastructure,” says Olaleye.

Using AWS, OneFi created and launched Paylater, a mobile lending-process app that customers can use to apply for and receive loans. The app enables the company to fully automate and scale loan processing.

“Since launching our Paylater mobile app on AWS, we’ve been able to disburse 1,500 loans a day instead of 500 a week, and we can process over 5,000 applications a day,” says Olaleye. “We can also make decisions on loan authorizations in less than 2 minutes, compared with the two days it used to take.” As a result, the organization can more easily take on new customers as it expands across the globe.

OneFi is using artificial intelligence (AI), with algorithms trained on AWS machine learning technology, to quickly analyze terabytes of personal and financial customer data in Paylater. Predictive analytics can help OneFi determine if a customer is likely to pay back a loan. The firm is also using Amazon Rekognition to apply image detection to its fraud analysis solution, which will help avoid the need for physical address verification. Now, a customer can take a photograph of his or her face and upload the image to the Paylater app. The image is then sent to a server, which uses Amazon Rekognition to automatically detect the face, gender, and attributes of the image. OneFi also performs data analysis with the GPS data it gathers when users sign up through the Paylater app to better understand where individuals are applying from, as well as the rate of applications from specific areas and other geolocation data points. Together, these capabilities will enable OneFi to make better decisions and lower risk.

OneFi developers can work with greater agility in the cloud, building and delivering new features and products more quickly than before. “We work in a dynamic, highly competitive industry, and we need to be responsive to customer demands,” says Olaleye. “Previously, our typical product prototype lifecycle was about three months, but we’ve cut that to several weeks by running on AWS. As a result, we’re more agile and thus also more competitive.”

OneFi’s Paylater app is a great example of this. “Paylater has become foundation for our digital transformation,” says Olaleye. “We’ve been able to quickly add innovative features, like mobile bill paying and fund transfers and investments, because of the agility we’ve achieved in the cloud.”

OneFi is also benefiting from the built-in capabilities of AWS that help ensure the company complies with GDPR and other industry requirements. “Running our platform on AWS, we can encrypt data in transit and at rest, and we have strong data protection in different regions,” says Olaleye. “Using AWS, we’re confident about our compliance with financial services regulations. A lot of our GDPR compliance issues, such as monitoring and access control, are taken care of by AWS,” Olaleye says. “As a result, we can spend more time ensuring our systems in the layer above the architecture meet those same standards.”

OneFi plans to keep using AWS to create innovative products and features in the cloud. “We will continue expanding our use of Amazon Rekognition to detect image properties and save them to our databases for processing, which will help us control risk as we grow,” Olaleye says. “AWS gives us the capabilities we need to quickly meet customer demands and keep moving our business forward.”

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