Juvo: An Authentically Mobile, Data-First Application For Finance

  • Peter Wagner

At Wing, we believe that the combination of Data Analytics, Mobile Connectivity, and Cloud Computing will produce significant new businesses that make a difference to their industries and to the world. The cloud will increasingly be the prevailing model for delivering services to business customers. Mobile endpoints will dominate client interactions. And data will infuse every stage, as both an input and output of these systems, multiplying value in the process.

Juvo, a Wing portfolio company that announced its global launch today, leverages this Data-Mobile-Cloud (DMC) paradigm shift to provide a financial identity and mobile financial services to prepaid phone users. Many of the world’s 5.7 billion prepaid customers are still unbanked or underserved, and Juvo has already developed a market footprint of 23 countries across four continents, reaching 100m subscribers.

Juvo’s proprietary Identity Stack combines consumer internet know-how, sophisticated data science, and game mechanics to encourage users to interact with their mobile operator. By collecting and analyzing subscriber and usage data in real time, Juvo generates identity scores for customers that can then be used to unlock access to credit and basic financial services. This innovative approach benefits mobile operators as well as their clients. Mobile identity scoring enables them to develop insights into previously anonymous prepaid users, and to deepen their engagement with them. Operators that work with Juvo have seen a 10-15% increase in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), while at the same time experiencing dramatically lower churn.

Juvo’s strategy makes it a perfect fit with two of our investment initiatives at Wing. The first of these is around “Authentically Mobile Applications”. These are services that would be extremely difficult or impossible to achieve without taking full advantage of the unique properties of the mobile ecosystem. While they share some of the characteristics of “mobile-first” offerings, such as streamlined user interfaces, frequent, “bite-sized” usage, and hyperpersonalization of content and operation, authentically mobile applications place far greater emphasis on the collection and analysis of data to create new-to-the-world functionality. Juvo’s use of data from prepaid phones to generate personal identity scores that open access to financial services is a compelling demonstration of this approach in action.

Juvo is also a great example of a "Data-First Application", another of our investment initiatives. Data-First applications are both “data-driven”, leveraging insight derived from embedded analytical capabilities, as well as “data-driving”, generating valuable “synthetic” data in the course of usage. They benefit from a virtuous data cycle as usage increases and the synthetic data stockpile grows. Juvo’s proprietary Identity Scoring technology shares these characteristics. It harvests and analyzes primary data from subscribers, as well as using sophisticated algorithms and machine learning to generate synthetic data sets that further enhance the customer intelligence that it delivers.

The Juvo team has a unique blend of internet and telecommunications experience. Founder Steve Polsky started his career in telecom and emerging markets, including time as a product manager at Amber Networks in the 1990s, where he first worked with me. Since then, Steve has helped found and lead several software and internet businesses, including consumer movie site Flixster (acquired by Warner Brothers and recently sold to Fandango). The Juvo organization now also includes a formidable Data Science team, which will be essential in unlocking the mobile financial services opportunity.

The mission that Juvo’s team has set itself is an important one. Numerous studies have shown that giving the unbanked access to financial services reduces poverty and has plenty of other positive effects, including empowering women and increasing spending on preventive healthcare. Authentically Mobile, Data-First applications will lead the way here, acting as a natural bridge to the financial system in many countries. We’re very excited to see how Juvo transforms mobile finance—and people’s lives.