Houston We Have FinTech
Australian small and medium sized enterprises (or SMEs) are increasingly turning to non-bank lenders for their financing requirements. In fact, a survey of 1000 businesses conducted last year showed that not only did more companies express a preference for non-bank lenders than ever before, but a greater number of them would choose to borrow from non-bank lenders than those using traditional banks,
From business to personal borrowers, from real estate to operating capital, people and organisations are increasingly finding that traditional banks have become more risk averse in recent years and are focussed heavily on security rather than a borrower’s ability to pay. Many know first-hand how frustrating this can be, especially those held back by the seemingly inflexible approach taken by credit ratings agencies.
Financial disintermediation, or more direct links between providers of capital and borrowers, has been a major feature of the financial landscape for the past two decades. Digital advances have seen this trend accelerate and the proliferation of non-bank lenders continues to increase. According to recapitalnews.com, 18 of Europe’s 40 largest real estate lenders are no longer banks. Closer to home, the A FR reports that non-bank lending is forecast to hit A$50 billion in the commercial real estate sector in the next four years.
And whilst some might argue that it really doesn’t matter where borrowers gain access to the funding they need to grow, there are increasing signs that both sides of the lending equation are benefitting significantly from new, highly advanced, technology solutions being deployed in the sector.
Comparison websites, taxi or ride-hailing apps (such as Uber) and food delivery apps (proliferating due to Covid-19) have all helped to show us the convenience of going digital. We feel more in control of our choices, and have the information we need at our fingertips. We have become used to instant gratification, and processes that are simple to use (even if they are massively complex to run). So too, we are starting to see this in the world of FinTech – where finance and technology collide to produce new and innovative activities in the sector.
Marketlend is a marketplace lending platform that brings lenders and borrowers together matching an investor’s desire for return with a borrower’s need for capital. Typically, many SMEs fail some of the more inflexible hurdles to borrow set by traditional banks. In fact, Marketlend CEO Leo Tyndall revealed in an interview last year that 44% of small businesses have been knocked back for finance in the past 12 months. His business aims to help borrowers secure the capital they need, by providing investors with the opportunity to earn superior returns – increasingly important in the current era of low interest rates.
Marketlend believes that the borrowing process can also be elegant, user-friendly and logical. It harnesses new technologies to deliver a user experience that is instinctive and deceptively simple. In developing its highly sophisticated credit risk assessment system, it worked with another innovative Australian company Houston We Have to create the strangely non-binary, or win-win, situation where lender risk and operating costs are reduced and borrower convenience and access to funding is actually enhanced.
Houston We Have is a boutique technology business that combines data science, software and artificial intelligence to deliver the kind of information that allows its clients to make better decisions and thrive. Its patented software was initially developed for military intelligence agencies where it is still very much in use. Gartner has identified the company as a Cool Vendor describing the value proposition as “unlike that of any vendor we have seen.”
Based on the company’s patented prescriptive and augmented intelligence software, Houston We Have helped develop a credit risk assessment model for Marketlend that combines leading automation, the best of human expertise (without bias) and more than 80 information variables to produce an online application tool that’s easy to use, and fast to run. Decisions are now generated in a matter or minutes – a far cry from the seemingly endless waits encountered in more traditional lending practices.
Risk to investors has also been reduced with a far better understanding of a borrower’s ability to pay and the removal of human bias in the decision making. Delinquent loans have been an astonishing zero since the system was introduced.
Houston We Have is currently engaging with a number of leading companies across sectors to see how its technology and approach can be deployed in the advancement of that business sweet-spot; improved efficiency, lower risk, and enhanced user experience.