Frederic Nze, the founder and CEO of micro lender Oakam describes his core customer base as two distinct types of people: those entering the credit market for the first time and those re-entering.
The first-timers often include students or migrants who have no credit history whatsoever and who need to establish a line of credit before they can apply for a larger loan or achieve a more significant investment, such as a mortgage. Re-entrants, meanwhile, may have fallen off the traditional credit ladder as a result of a career or relationship breakdown and are looking to regain their footing.
Since its launch in 2007, Oakam has helped close to 700,000 customers and granted some 500 million small loans. It has provided almost a quarter of a million people moving to the UK for work with access to credit, helping them to establish homes and start their new lives. Oakam has also welcomed 125,000 single parents back into the credit market.
Technology lies at the heart of the Oakam business model. For consumers, it gives them the power to share much more relevant information – in a more meaningful way than by filling out a form – to influence the underwriting decision. For Oakam, technology makes sense of large amounts of data that would be too complex to be processed by traditional credit scorecards. By harnessing artificial intelligence in order to process the data and with the help of partners such as Provenir, which provide scalability, robustness and reliability, Oakam can help those entrants or re-entrants that have been left behind by established and inflexible lenders.
In a recent interview with Finextra, Frederic speaks proudly of Oakam’s innovative approach and of the company’s award winning mobile app, which is now used by more than half of its customers at least once a week to manage their finances on the move.