The FinTech start-up Anyfin leverages AI technology in the consumer lending space, creating transparency and lowering monthly costs in the process. Filip Polhem, co-founder, shares Anyfin’s story and sheds light on the global challenges and opportunities as a start-up…
[KAE] Tell us more about Anyfin, including what makes the company and its vision unique?
Why are consumers paying so much for financing? Why is there no simple solution to lower this cost? Anyfin is challenging the high interest rates in consumer lending by letting people easily and quickly transfer their balance to a cheaper rate and saving money by just taking a picture of their loan statement.
Send a picture of a loan statement - approve the offer with improved terms - you’re done
Setup fees, monthly fees, hidden late fees and high interest rates – this is standard in consumer lending today. Our vision is to bring transparency and simplicity by having a simple pricing structure without any hidden fees and simplifying the application flow by reading loan statements with the help of artificial intelligence. With our technology the consumer does not have to fill out an application anymore – sending a picture of your credit card, installment or loan’s monthly statement is all that is required to save money.
[KAE] What do you think are the critical components that will make Anyfin successful and what barriers have you encountered on your journey to date?
We believe success starts with a great product and the ability to provide a user experience that is intuitive and simple for consumers to use. By breaking the norm and being completely transparent without hidden fees we will gain the consumers’ trust and improve their personal finance.
We are proud of our proprietary platform that has been built with scalability and automation in mind. By combining AI, proprietary credit risk algorithms and a platform built around micro services and a state of the art technology stack, we can guarantee a minimum of overhead that allows a unique consumer experience and the ability to optimise consumer savings.
Regulatory requirements keep increasing and are likely the largest barrier to enter the industry. Rather than fighting the regulatory body we have chosen to design our product with regulation in mind to make sure we have created a product consumers want and one that is compliant with the regulatory framework.
[KAE] Are there any parts of the financial services world (or more specifically, in consumer lending) that you feel are untapped opportunities and why?
Consumer lending is currently a space occupied by players offering loans with high interest rates, hidden secondary terms in the fine print and complex fees structures, leaving consumers stuck in very costly situations. As there is still a stigma around personal loans among consumers, and so rich margins for the companies, it has created a price umbrella that is not challenged by any part.
Most companies operating within the consumer lending space are using manual processes throughout the customer journey. Processes within marketing, sales and underwriting all the way to collection have foundations in manual labour as these companies have enjoyed high margins without any need to invest into their systems. This creates an opportunity for new services that can be customised to the needs of each customer and built to handle scale rather than maximising the revenue per customer.
[KAE] Are there any key trends and/or technologies that you feel will be game changers this or next year within the financial services (or more specifically, the consumer lending) space? And why?
The financial industry is in a phase of transition as large traditional players increasingly understand the cost of missed opportunities in technical innovation and customer experience, above all in the digital space.
A very obvious area of improvement is automation and machine learning, from onboarding to credit assessments and collection strategies, resulting in reduced overhead costs and processing times. Opportunities don’t end at the back-office though, but reach well into consumer interactions, including innovative ways of providing information or chatbots powered by conversational AI much smarter than what we’ve seen so far.
Another development that at first sight might seem less exciting, but is potentially hugely impactful, is the creation of external APIs. PSD2 is around the corner and it still has to be seen how much effort will be spent on its implementation. If done right however, we might very well find ourselves in a future where banks continue to power financial transactions, but the frontend is handled by new players much better positioned in pioneering UX.
[KAE] With the Stockholm FinTech scene blossoming, what do you think makes the city an ideal hub for FinTechs?
Depending on how you define it, this is the second or third generation of FinTech companies seeing its light. Early successes of a few startups have created a competence and network of people with genuine and profound understanding of the industry. On top of that Stockholm enjoys the benefits of a rich pool of tech talent due to Sweden’s tuition system and history of technology successes.
[KAE] Despite their local success, some Scandinavian FinTechs have struggled to tap into new markets outside of the region. Why do you think that is the case?
Taking a look at the Stockholm scene Iwe believe the opposite. Sweden’s industrial history shows export has always been of great importance. The Swedish market is far from big enough which has made it critical for Swedish companies to export goods and services in order to have a viable and growing business.
The FinTech scene is no exception. Klarna, iZettle, Bambora and many more financial companies have been built for geographical expansion with the focus of changing their niche within the financial industry in every market. As we believe customisation to handle every customer’s specific needs will become increasingly important, there will be an increasing focus on building global companies that can act locally.
[KAE] Putting any barriers to entry aside, are there any regions or specific countries that most appeal to you? And why?
Europe is very interesting as the market consists of local players offering traditional services to its user base. Consumer financing costs are still high here in Europe as competition and innovation is limited. We are currently focusing on Europe as we are still in the cradle, but consumers are getting poorly treated all around the world and we know our service can help many of them. There is still so much to do around the globe!
[KAE] What is the one pearl of wisdom you would share with anyone starting their journey as a FinTech and why?
Do not underestimate the need of talented experts to understand the regulatory requirements for your business. As regulators continuously work on the regulation you must understand the trend and dynamics within your particular part of the financial sector as these changes can both eliminate and create opportunities. The most successful FinTechs invest significantly into analysing the regulatory framework and can therefore effectively comply or challenge where it hinders innovation and development.
About the Author:
Filip Polhem is co-founder of Anyfin, the FinTech start-up that leverages AI technology in the consumer lending space, creating transparency and lowering monthly costs.
Filip has extensive experience from the Scandinavian FinTech scene having worked for Klarna and iZettle. Prior to setting up Anyfin, he was Director of Online Acquisition and acting Chief Risk Officer at iZettle, which during his time launched it’s services across 12 markets in Europe and Latin America and experienced hyper growth while achieving industry low risk and fraud rates. Filip holds a MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Lund University
More about FinTech Vantage:
This post is part of the FinTech Vantage series by KAE that provides a fresh perspective and hears first-hand from various players across the FinTech ecosystem.
KAE will be posting a number of interviews with FinTechs that share their candid viewpoints and to really get under the skin of the FinTech world.
If you would like to share your views and participate in the FinTech Vantage series, feel free to reach out to us at FinTech@kae.com