What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
I come from a commercial banking background, so somewhat inevitably I’m a number and data-driven person. For us, we constantly monitor the lead indicators in terms of the quality of demand from small business customers and the supply of lending products at competitive rates. This gives us a good sense of the revenue we can see coming down the line.
I’m also fascinated by which sectors are most prominent, how much they are seeking, and why. As you can imagine, this gives us essential insight into where the stresses and strains are within the UK economy.
Since the government support has been withdrawn we’ve seen greater uptake of market-based business lending, a 58% year-on-year rise in January which has shown that businesses are turning to alternative forms of finance such as Merchant Cash Advance and rolling credit facilities to provide ready working capital and greater flexibility.
Lenders that use the platform would also be interested in gaining insights into the competitive landscape in the UK and Dutch markets. This data is incredibly valuable to assess their own offering and to trigger greater competition and choice for small businesses.
To what extent does your business trade internationally?
Funding Options is co-located, operating across the UK, where we have our headquarters in London, and the Netherlands. We are the only platform of our kind to have established ourselves internationally. We’ve been well-established in the Dutch market since 2019 and have facilitated loans to a value of tens of millions of Euros.
Where would you like your business to be in five years?
Last year we launched the first real-time lending platform, which we called Funding Cloud™. We’ve seen loan applications approved in just 20 seconds with no manual intervention, which basically means the due diligence is done instantly through access to key data. Our customers have highlighted the need for fast access to vital funds as critical.
So, in five years’ time, recognizing that an enormous funding gap exists globally (estimated at $5 trillion in the US, £56bn in the UK, and €730 billion in Europe) I would like to see our innovation positively contributing on a global scale.
We will come to rely far more heavily on the world’s SME population. The World Bank estimates that 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce. Small and mid-sized businesses – responsible for half of the employment worldwide already – will be the essential job creators.
What software or technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
Again, the technology stack that sits behind our Funding Cloud™ platform has been transformative for customers. It wouldn’t be possible without Open Banking, Open Accounting and AI, supported by third party verification (AML – anti-money laundering and KYC – know your customer) technologies.
We’re very lucky to operate at a time when there are so many exciting third parties that we can partner with to enhance our offering such as Codat, Equifax and FullCircl.
Based on what lenders need to know in order to provide loans, our algorithm can instantly identify whether an application meets the required criteria. Open Banking technology gives us a window on companies’ financial suitability to receive a loan. And the third party verification carries out instant due diligence.
Crunching all of that data in real-time, businesses receive the offer of an approved loan in seconds.
Our new record time from application to funds in the bank is just 18 minutesmeaning you can apply and receive a loan within your coffee break!