At Fintech 2018, the fifth annual financial technology conference organised by media and events company DIGIT, hundreds of delegates gathered in Edinburgh to discuss topics including regulation, customer engagement, access to funding and emerging technologies such as blockchain.
The two-day summit, held on 19 and 20 September at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth visitor attraction, featured 30 speakers – including LendingCrowd founder and CEO Stuart Lunn and our Director of Operations, Mike Allan.
Mike’s talk on 19 September, to an audience of some 350 people, focused on the role of technology in driving customer acquisition. He also discussed LendingCrowd’s evolution, from start-up to scale-up, emphasising the fintech fundamentals of the business.
“We wanted to create a business that had strong financial service fundamentals, especially with credit assessment and compliance, built on a sound commercial footing. Those fundamentals, which we put in place at the very start back in 2014, meant we were one of the first P2P platforms to move from interim to full Financial Conduct Authority permission.
“We were also able to quickly become an ISA manager and launch a new investor product, our Income Account. Having the right foundations in place meant we could also build the technology required to offer all of our investment products under an ISA wrap. This gave us a competitive advantage to scale our retail investor funds and therefore scale our lending to business borrowers across Britain.”
He added: “At the same time we wanted to be like a tech start-up, using the cloud, open source and agile, test-driven development allows us to make frequent changes to our production system. For example, this meant we launched our first passive investment product, our Growth Account, within an ISA wrap, within three months ”
Making a positive impact
On 20 September, Stuart took part in a panel discussion that examined how financial technology can make a positive impact on society. The session was chaired by Callum Sinclair, Partner and Head of Technology at law firm Burness Paull.
“The focus needs to be on building a sustainable and profitable business model from the outset,” said Stuart, who was joined on the panel by Fintech Scotland CEO Stephen Ingledew, hiveonline CEO Sofie Blakstad and Hannah Rudman, Strategic Transformation Director at Wallet.Services.
Stuart added: “Get the foundations right at the start, and the positive impact will follow. At LendingCrowd, we have proven the benefits of our business model in terms of enabling hundreds of SMEs to access the finance they need to grow. In Scotland, our lending trebled during the first half of the year, and we are on track to double our overall lending across the UK for the year as a whole.
“We have moved out of the start-up phase and are beginning to scale, bringing in larger funds to enable us to deliver higher levels of funding. In the process, this will help our borrowers to expand and create more jobs, delivering knock-on benefits for the wider economy.
“However, as increasing numbers of channels to finance open up for small businesses, I believe that more work is needed to improve their financial education. The gap in awareness is widening, so while financial technology is making a positive impact for the UK’s vital community of SMEs, businesses like LendingCrowd need to help SMEs navigate the funding landscape.”