African financial services provider Standard Bank bought a stake in merchant technology company Nomanini and plans to launch a mobile application specifically aimed at serving the informal retail sector across 14 markets.

The investment, of an undisclosed amount, was part of a $4 million funding round held by Nomanini. As part of the deal, Standard Bank said it would be able to use the company’s analytics platform to “unearth previously invisible data on the informal economy”.

Data points accessed will allow it to assess creditworthiness of small and micro retailers operating outside of the formal financial sector. It plans to offer loan, business and savings to these merchants through a specific Standard Bank mobile application.

The bank plans to launch the new facility across: Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Botswana and its home market of South Africa.

Standard Bank head of digital for Africa regions Adrian Vermooten said for the vast majority in the informal sector: “Going to the bank and filling out forms for a loan is simply not viable – and can take days.”

He added the deal: “Helped us uncover simple, scalable opportunities while granting new and existing customers access to financial services for the first time. Previously, this type of information was unavailable to us but now our merchant customers can access banking services wherever they are and whenever it suits them.”