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Laos fintech gives village banks, financial inclusion a timely boost

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A village bank in Laos using LTS’ microfinance platform ‘Lan Xang Banker’

Three years ago, LTS Ventures was tasked with building a simple microfinance platform for Laos’s army of village banks and savings unions. It took off like a rocket, boosting financial inclusion, cutting fraud. Now the firm is eyeing fresh external funding and expansion across southeast Asia.

When Tim Scheffmann co-founded Laos-based LTS Ventures three years ago, he had a goal that continues to elude many well-meaning policymakers across large swathes of southeast Asia: to drag financially excluded citizens into the formal banking system.

“My main motivation was and is to financially include people,” the chief executive of the Vientiane-based fintech tells Euromoney. “I have been in the region for 10 years. I created a mobile-money startup in Myanmar and a blockchain-based remittance company based in Bangkok. Then this comes along.”

Our customers are from rural areas, so if a system is over-sophisticated, it won’t work in any meaningful way
Tim Scheffmann, LTS Ventures
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‘This’ was a contract awarded by German development agency GIZ in 2019, to build a simple and reliable platform it could place atop any of the country’s 6,000-plus village banks and 122 microfinance institutions (MFIs), plus countless domestic savings and credit unions, to help them reduce risk and cut fraud.

With his Laotian co-founders – managing director Lattana Keosihavong and chief operating officer Sonesak Sehavong – Scheffmann created ‘Lan Xang Banker’, named after the old name for the country, which means ‘a million elephants’.

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Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor
Elliot Wilson is Greater China editor and Private Banking and Wealth Management editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.