When we started DFS Lab, our goal was to support founders who were building companies that could improve the lives of their families and broader communities. When we started building towards that goal in 2017, we focused on bridging a funding gap for startups expanding financial services across the continent. In the time that followed, we invested in companies like NALA, Pezesha, Hover, Pula, and Appruve.

However, we quickly realized a truism when it comes to financial access — that financial services are only as good as the digital commerce landscapes in which they operate. We began forming a data-driven…


This post was co-authored by the DFS Lab team.

Marc Andreessen’s “Why Software Is Eating the World” is a cornerstone essay marking tech’s most recent golden age. In the piece, Marc makes the case that “With lower start-up costs and a vastly expanded market for online services, the result is a global economy that for the first time will be fully digitally wired.” And in the decade since, founders and investors around the world have rallied to build businesses to serve digitally connected populations. True to the prophecy, these startups have emerged leveraging standardized, scalable infrastructure to lower the cost…


How MSMEs have become the next tech battleground in Indonesia

Early last year, I wrote an article on how Gojek was forming a new kind of superapp in Indonesia based on online-to-offline ecommerce. My hypothesis was that as a majority unbanked nation, the success of these platforms would require a rethinking of how cash moves into digital wallets and vice versa.

The idea was straight-forward: looking at how mobile money agent-led banking was taking off in Africa, it seemed Indonesia’s unicorns Grab and Gojek were planning to turn every one of their drivers into cash-in-cash-out (CICO) points — essentially roaming, on-demand ATM machines.

In addition, we saw critical acquisitions by…


How MSMEs have become the next tech battleground in Indonesia

Early last year, I wrote an article on how Gojek was forming a new kind of superapp in Indonesia based on online-to-offline ecommerce. My hypothesis was that as a majority unbanked nation, the success of these platforms would require a rethinking of how cash moves into digital wallets and vice versa.

The idea was straight-forward: looking at how mobile money agent-led banking was taking off in Africa, it seemed Indonesia’s unicorns Grab and Gojek were planning to turn every one of their drivers into cash-in-cash-out (CICO) points — essentially roaming, on-demand ATM machines.

In addition, we saw critical acquisitions by…


This blog is authored by Stephen Deng, co-founder at DFS Lab, an early-stage fintech accelerator for emerging markets

Recently, I had the opportunity to join a group of donors, investors, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders and spent a week in China to understand the dramatic digital financial revolution that the country has undertaken.

We quickly realized that China’s story is not just about the meteoric rise of its tech giants, but just as importantly, the layered set of last mile products and services that was built up to enable such fast growth. …


This blog is authored by Stephen Deng, co-founder at DFS Lab, an early-stage fintech accelerator for emerging markets

Recently, I had the opportunity to join a group of donors, investors, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders and spent a week in China to understand the dramatic digital financial revolution that the country has undertaken.

We quickly realized that China’s story is not just about the meteoric rise of its tech giants, but just as importantly, the layered set of last mile products and services that was built up to enable such fast growth. …


New technologies in financial services are evolving more quickly than ever. Some of these continue to gain hype globally as attention, funding, and developer talent are devoted to technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Here at DFS Lab, we aim to accelerate the next generation of fintech breakthroughs specifically for emerging markets. While cutting-edge tech in developed world contexts are relevant, we often come across presing problems specific to emerging markets that could be tackled with the right usage of innovative technologies.

Two key areas of tech we are focused on right now are (1) technologies used to biometrically identify…


When I first stepped into the streets of Jakarta, I was taken aback by several things. First, this is a tech-inundated city. People are living in their phones — sitting, walking, riding on motorcycles — digital life, is life. Second, you see green. Not just the green from tree-lined roads filled with commuters, but from the green helmets of motorcycle drivers working for Go-Jek and Grab, two unicorn ride-sharing companies fighting for turf on the streets of the city.

Related image

Traffic in Jakarta is bad, really bad. It’s not a mistake that ride-sharing has taken off in the market with homegrown…


When I first stepped into the streets of Jakarta, I was taken aback by several things. First, this is a tech-inundated city. People are living in their phones — sitting, walking, riding on motorcycles — digital life, is life. Second, you see green. Not just the green from tree-lined roads filled with commuters, but from the green helmets of motorcycle drivers working for Go-Jek and Grab, two unicorn ride-sharing companies fighting for turf on the streets of the city.

Related image

Traffic in Jakarta is bad, really bad. It’s not a mistake that ride-sharing has taken off in the market with homegrown…


When I first stepped into the streets of Jakarta, I was taken aback by several things. First, this is a tech-inundated city. People are living in their phones — sitting, walking, riding on motorcycles — digital life, is life. Second, you see green. Not just the green from tree-lined roads filled with commuters, but from the green helmets of motorcycle drivers working for Go-Jek and Grab, two unicorn ride-sharing companies fighting for turf on the streets of the city.

Related image

Traffic in Jakarta is bad, really bad. It’s not a mistake that ride-sharing has taken off in the market with homegrown…

Stephen Deng

Investments @TheDFSLab. 2X @Cal Golden Bear.

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