Orange invests in smartphone financing start-up

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Orange has invested in a digital start-up that connects consumers with lenders who are unable to finance their smartphones.

PayJoy's platform is aimed at the more than five billion people globally who have yet to purchase a Apple or Android handset.

Its device management software is installed onto phones, which connects users with third-party institutional investors who are able to pay for the smartphone upfront. Consumers then pay them off through monthly installments.

Orange joined venture capital firms in buying a stake in the business during a series A funding round.

Pierre Louette, Orange’s CEO Delegate in charge of Orange Digital Ventures said: “This investment in PayJoy further demonstrates the Orange group’s ambition to support and accelerate the digital evolution of our customers globally, and in particular for our 110 million customers in Africa and the Middle East.

"Investing in PayJoy represents a logical extension of our investments in other frontier markets such as Jumia Group (formerly Africa Internet Group), Afrimarket and Afrostream. PayJoy illustrates our belief at Orange that disruptive ways of thinking can often provide surprisingly simple solutions for breaking down previously insurmountable barriers."

Analysts at McKinsey have predicted so-called "thin-file" consumers, who have no ready access to credit or the ability to pay upfront for a device, could amount to a $2.3 trillion market.

Last month, Orange's investment arm bought a stake in BandwidthX, a virtual platform that allows Wi-Fi players to share excessive capacity.