Former NAB executive, Andrew Colliver, officially opened the doors on a new FinTech company as founder and CEO.
Based on St Kilda Road Melbourne, Banjo is an online lender intended to fill the space in the market offering accessible unsecured loans for medium to small business (SMEs).
Staffed with 15 at present, Colliver said Banjo has a number of attractive features intended to make raising finance to expand an SME easier.
The loans are scheduled as six months working capital at competitive market rates that approximate what the major lenders are already doing.
After 25 years in finance Colliver said that Banjo would be his first major venture and explains that the company’s name comes from Banjo Patterson who is featured on the Australian ten-dollar bill.
“I’m too busy to be nervous,” he said, adding that the business has been trading ahead of the 28th September start up. “Demand is overwhelming,” he said.
He told OmniChannel Media that while at the NAB he built an advisory business from a staff of five and grew it to an excess of 50 people in three countries over five years.
“That’s the closest experience I have in forming strategy and implementing it…but I had the full resources of the bank and the support of senior management.”
Colliver left the NAB in 2013 when he was the managing director of business performance in corporate, institutional and specialised banking.
Two former NAB colleagues fill out Banjo’s executive suite, CTO Julian Hedt and COO Stephen Murphy.
The Australian Financial Review reports that Banjo has not made public its backers, who contributed nearly $8 million to start up the company – only to note that they are individuals and not venture capital funds.
Post GFC Colliver and his partners saw the need for a lender sympathetic to the needs of SMEs and the possibilities of innovative technology in the space.
“It’s generally more profitable for traditional lenders…to make a $2 million loan than it is to make a $50,000 loan,” he said.
The vision for Banjo says Colliver is a lender that “builds a value proposition around the daily task of their customers lives and that means an organisation that is totally focused on a number of issues.”
He said this would include prototyping and evolving every aspect of customer interaction, leveraging data to remove friction between customer and institution, and making mobile a core competency.
“Finally risk compliance and management systems,” he said, “like getting data in real time with a minimum amount of human intervention.”
Already, media reports have positioned Banjo as ‘taking on’ the banks, a characterisation that Colliver is keen to play down.
“I see things a little bit different [when it comes to disruption],” he said.
“I have a lot of genetic heritage with banks that have been good to me and worked heavily in my development.”
Colliver said that the GFC focused the large banks on strategic imperatives like risk management. They had to adapt to new regulatory and capital regimes. The Internet of Things (IoT) meanwhile allowed improved information connectedness scalability compared to ten years ago.
“So what happened in the US and the UK was that marketplace lenders sprung up focussing technology [on taking] banking to people when and where they wanted it,” he said.
“We’re not saying banks never did this…and whilst this can be construed as disruption I see a convergence between FinTech and incumbent banks. What we arguing about is the time frame of the convergence.”
Colliver said that so far they are meeting their targets and over time may move into other jurisdictions.
In the end, he wants Banjo to become known as advocates of small business. “What’s uppermost in my mind that we want to give the client a good experience…we have live chat and customer service and technology platform and we have to deliver.”