Together with regulation and market demand, technology has played a prominent part in the rise and growth of SME lending among such industry leaders as Prospa, Moula, Lumi, Capify and others.
Steps needed to achieve similar growth
Research undertaken by Ernst & Young suggests that we can expect rapid growth in FinTech adoption by SMEs because of their willingness to share data. This E&Y research showed that 70% of SME adopters were willing to share their banking data with other financial services companies if doing so would help them get access to a better deal, and if it’s done selectively and securely. Conversely, only 46% of consumer adopters were prepared to share data under such circumstances.
This readiness among these SMEs to share data creates significant opportunities for FinTechs to develop products built around open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which are at the heart of the ‘open banking’ trend global markets are experiencing en masse.
It’s not a unique phenomenon. A surprisingly high number of SMEs are willing to share data digitally, usually through actions such as uploading their financial information to a cloud-based accounting provider. As open APIs become more widespread, providers can offer a broader range of services to SMEs more efficiently, including overdraft protection, factoring and supply chain management, bookkeeping, and managing expenses.
Many UK FinTechs use open banking and open data to offer a more timely and personalised service to their SME customers; this helps them better understand, run and further grow their businesses. The result of these kinds of insights will invariably be an increase in an SME’s cash flow and financial wellbeing.
Open APIs are prompting the development of new financial management tools. They can make it significantly easier for SMEs to acquire credit, necessary for their ongoing growth. Securing a loan can be an elongated and frustrating process for SMEs, so lenders of all stripes can make informed underwriting decisions faster once they have access to open data.
• Enrich your data
Data enrichment is a crucial part of data management, giving confidence to users in the information they receive. Data enrichment processes allow new information to be incorporated into existing records, improving the accuracy, timeliness, and value of a database. Massive volumes of data are collected and distributed every day. Through connecting this information to known entities, we can contextualise these insights, perpetually improving and enriching the data.
Enriched data and real-time analytics have enabled modern and comprehensive risk profiles, leading to new customers, lower Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and faster loan underwriting.
• Try automation
Automation of the numerous regulations and policies as part of the CI/CD process has enabled continued adherence and faster implementation. CI/CD, meaning continuous integration/continuous delivery (or ‘continuous deployment’) is a method used to deliver apps to customers by introducing automation into the stages of app development.
CI/CD works as a solution to the problems integrating new code often cause for dev-ops teams. CI/CD introduces ongoing automation and continuous monitoring throughout an app’s lifecycle.
• Be Agile
Agile software development is a term for a set of structures and methods stemming from the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and its foundational 12 Principles. Having enabled quick action on changes in the market, such as interest rates, Agile essentially delivers work in small, but consumable, increments, instead of betting everything on a single big launch. Requirements, plans, and results are evaluated continuously so teams have the means by which to quickly respond to change.
This approach to project management and software development helps teams deliver value to their customers faster, and with fewer obstacles.
• Embrace APIs and their interoperability
If you’ve ever used Facebook, sent an instant message, or checked the football scores on your phone, you’ve used an API. An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a software intermediary which allows two applications to communicate. The implementation of language-agnostic APIs (including Simple Object Access Protocols, or SOAP; and Representational State Transfers, or REST) has enabled faster integration between the numerous internal and external financial systems and faster data consumption by downstream, or external consumers.
APIs allow companies to create solutions to provide better customer experiences without significantly increasing the cost. They can also streamline businesses operations, and simplify and facilitate integration, allowing different software types to reorganise their interrelationships according to the business’ specific needs. A good API can help expand a brand’s presence in the market.
With financial institutions widely leading the charge to embrace new technological advances, it makes sense for business to embrace the idea of new approaches to finance and technology. Its advancements and ensuing terminology can be difficult for people outside the technology ‘tent’ to navigate, but with the right kind of guidance and insight as to its essential meaning, we can all benefit from its expert use and implementation.