Author: Matthew Wilde
While many businesses have goals, few are moving towards them as successfully as Instabank. In its two years of operation, it has already issued loans totaling over $370 million in Norway and expanded into Finland. Like many other challenger banks, Instabank offers lending products through its website, but the bank has taken their goal of accessible lending one step further with the development of in-store payment solutions.
Their digital-forward approach to lending takes into account that not all purchases are planned and traditional payment methods, such as cash, debit, or credit, are not always the best option for customers.
So, what does this mean for the consumer who’s fallen in love with the couch in the shop window, but wasn’t expecting to make a large purchase?
Instabank provides a simple lending solution that’s available at the point of sale to provide shop customers with instant loan approval. To power the growth of this payment solution Instabank has partnered with a number of key businesses including Eplehuset (a leading retailer for Apple products in Norway) and Power (leading electronics chain across the Nordics), and in-store lending now accounts for a major portion of Instabank’s loan approvals.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why instant loans have yet to become widely accessible, but managing risk and creating the tech solutions needed to provide instant access have played significant roles in the delay. However, these problems didn’t stop Instabank from creating a banking solution that is easy to use, is accessible where and when it's needed, and enables the smooth flow of payments and services between consumers and businesses.
Building a Digital Bank? – Only with the right talent
So, how do you build a challenger bank that is both ready to handle the complicated risk analytics that has traditionally slowed banks down, while creating banking products that are instantly accessible to consumers?
You hire innovative people to drive the business ahead, such as Instabank’s forward-thinking CTO Farzad Jalily. Farzad and his team are responsible for creating the technology solutions that not only provide a streamlined consumer experience, but are also scalable and adaptable. When asked about creating the architecture that can support Instabank’s business now and grow with them in the future Farzad said,
“I’ve been an architect and an enterprise architect, and you build up a dream architecture. I had all these wishes based on past mistakes and successes. At Instabank I could live out my dream, I could draw out the architecture and cherry-pick solutions and put them together using APIs.”
As a challenger bank, Instabank isn’t weighed down by the legacy systems that often prohibit big banks from innovating and Farzad sees his distributed architecture as a huge advantage over competitors, “All the banks small or big, have problems with their legacy solutions, which we don’t have. We use a micro integration platform instead of having a heavy, established API that you have to use a lot of money to build, so time to market and costs are really low because we use this kind of technology.” Farzad’s idea of using third-party services, which is a unique solution to banking technology needs, can be easily scaled to meet the changing needs of the business as it expands.
Developing a lending solution that greets you at the checkout
Like all other parts of the business, developing lending apps for in-store partner solutions is a fast and easily scalable process for the Instabank team. Their focus is on providing an easy and discrete application experience for customers. To do this they create simple solutions that use Provenir’s sophisticated analytics solution to manage the loan application processes.
Instabank’s partnership with a large furniture retailer in Norway is a great example of this. Instabank has replaced their existing payment solution to create a seamless financing option that can be completed at the point of purchase. Traditional financing options used to pay for large purchases are far from consumer friendly. In many shops, you fall in love with a couch or other big-ticket item that catches your eye, and then fill out pages and pages of paperwork to secure credit. This isn’t just a slow process, it’s cumbersome, archaic, and enough to put many customers off making a purchase.
Have you ever wished that applying for a small loan was as simple as sending a text message to your bank?
Instabank has created that option for the store’s customers.
Shoppers simply have to send a text message, and then answer a few follow up questions to apply for a loan in store. No paperwork, no wasted time, and best of all the application process takes under two minutes. The agreement can even be signed on your mobile phone. It’s an easy, simple, and efficient payment option for consumers. Once approved customers receive a barcode attached to their loan account that can be scanned in-store and topped up for future purchases.
Perhaps the most impressive development created by Farzad’s team is Upgrade—the app that’s powering early phone upgrades and Mac purchases at Norway’s leading retailer of Apple products. Incredibly the team created and launched the app used in store, to calculate the cost of upgrading and finance the purchase, in just 7 weeks.
To complete the valuation of the existing phone and apply for a loan to upgrade, customers simply need to complete a four-question application online. Their identity can be verified using Bank ID, which can then be used to automatically sign the agreement. Again, this easy financing solution takes care of the entire process from valuing the consumer’s current phone to calculating their loan rate.
This focus on meeting customers where they need them shows just how committed Instabank is to their motto ‘we don’t think like a bank we think like you’. Consumers value options and don’t always plan purchases ahead of time, getting an instant loan as part of the checkout process is a simple way of planning for a customer’s needs before they even develop!
Faster decisioning and expanding accessibility—Instabank’s plans for the future
If you’re wondering how Instabank manages to decision an application in just a few minutes, it’s not down to magic or lack of thorough decisioning processes. The decisioning speed is the result of sophisticated risk models combined with a fully automated risk decisioning system that eliminates delays and provides reliable risk answers. However, Instabank still thinks they can be faster!
For many businesses, completing a loan application in under two-minutes is a dream, but not for Instabank, who are currently planning to speed up their decisioning process through the use of microservices. Farzad told us, “If you want to score an applicant you need to run through the whole process, that is old-fashioned. If you can use microservices you can just use the part of the model that you need. In that way, you get an answer even faster.” Switching to this microservices approach will allow Instabank to run an application only through the parts of the process that are necessary to analyze that specific loan application.
Innovation is something that guides and drives Instabank, with future plans including expansion into new products and markets, and an ongoing mission to create the fastest and smartest risk decisioning process possible. And of course, continue to take banking to consumers, wherever they need it!
Making the move to microservices?
This overview of microservices in the financial services industry will light your way.