[09 DECEMBER 2016] First Circle, the first digital SME business financing company in Southeast Asia, has collaborated with FINTQ to provide loans for SMEs via Lendr, an end-to-end loans origination and loans management platform accessible through multi-channel device such as desktop, tablet or mobile.
Lendr is one of the breakthrough products developed by FINTQ, the financial technology unit of Voyager Innovations, the digital innovations arm of PLDT and Smart Communications (Smart).
Through Lendr, First Circle will be able to expand and fulfill its mission of empowering more Philippine SMEs to grow their business. “We are delighted to collaborate with Lendr, which shares our same vision to expand the reach of financial products and provide convenient, hassle-free loan applications to our customers,” Patrick Lynch, First Circle President & CEO explained.
First Circle is among the first business loans to be offered in the Lendr marketplace, which allows the borrowing market to search and directly apply to an array of financial and non-financial institutions through its integration with lender partners.
“First Circle is proud to join the esteemed partners of Lendr as this partnership specifically allows SMEs to be connected to our products and services for their business financing needs,” Lynch expounds.
“Given that access to finance of the Philippine SME sector remains challenging, a digital lending platform to make the loans availment experience seamless, quick and efficient among our entrepreneurs is crucial to capacity-building. This provides a huge opportunity to tap the greater SME market. First Circle is among the first ten banks and non-banks that are currently deployed under the trailblazing Lendr platform with more partner financial and non-financial institutions in various stages of on-boarding,” said Lito Villanueva, FINTQ managing director.
SMEs in the country account for 35 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is the second lowest in Southeast Asia next to Myanmar. It employs about 65 percent of the workforce, majority of which reside in Metro Manila.
According to a study by the Asian Development Bank, personal funds remain to be the dominant source of financing among local SMEs, where only 39 percent of respondent cited bank loans as a funding means. Among the barriers to financing that were cited include slow fund disbursement due to lack of credit information, inadequate bank and government guidance on preparation of compliance documents, and vulnerability of financial institutions that result to high cost of loans.
In less than two years, FINTQ’s digital lending platforms have yielded exponential growth year-on-year. Its loans outstanding grew over a hundred percent in excess of P15 billion while loans booked increased by almost a hundred percent to more than 100,000.
With its platforms, FINTQ has the most extensive digital lending footprint in the country today, with loan transactions coming from all 81 provinces, 90 percent of the 145 cities and eight percent of the 1,490 municipalities.
Digital is making financial services more accessible and inclusive. Seven out of 10 borrowers from FINTQ’s digital lending platforms are from the provinces, with more than 20 percent coming from low-income cities and municipalities. Almost half of all digital loan applications were lodged outside banking hours making it the best-practice model in branchless banking and expanding access to finance.
The digital lending service will soon be expanded to other sectors such as overseas Filipino workerss, agriculture for small farmers for agriculture, healthcare via medicine loans and the informal segments. This includes other consumer loan products namely: auto, motorcycle, housing, credit cards, pension aside from the existing mSME, personal and salary loans.
About First Circle
First Circle is the first digital SME financing company in South East Asia. Creating powerful technology enables them to bring together the best businesses. They do this through a simple online account, advanced data analytics, dedicated customer success representatives, and a community of business owners complete with a host of useful resources. First Circle exists to radically improve the course of opportunity for SMEs across South East Asia; to help business owners achieve growth that surpasses what they once believed possible; to expand their First Circle beyond their family and friends.
The leader in customer-centric, demand-driven, mobile-first, value-creating, and inclusive digital financial innovations through collaboration across strategic markets with award-winning and pioneering platforms, products and services. It is the largest and the only financial technology business with diverse digital banking and finance portfolio of platforms including lending, security, micro-savings, insurance, disbursements, micro-credit and virtual banking, among others. It has received over 25 regional and global accolades including features in international publications.