Analysis Featured

Successful p2p, gamification and social network lending in Mexico

Credilike.me‘s gamification feature encourages borrowers to pay on time and rewards them with the higher loan amount, longer tenure, and reduced APRs. It also leverages Facebook to not only ascertain the identity of the applicant but also to create peer pressure which will ensure that the borrower behaves responsibly.

Credilike.me was formally launched in 2012 in Mexico. Armando Kuroda, Luis Roberto Perez and Jorge Enriquez are the 3 co-founders of the company. The company is officially listed as Confianza Digital (Digital trust) and has two products- Credilike.me (Flagship) and Kobra.Red. Credilike.me  is a short term loan provider to the millennial generation. The second product, Kobra.Red has been launched in 2016 to solve Credilike.me’s own pain point of recovering from defaulting borrowers.  The company has raised $3 mil since its launch. It has originated more than 15,000 loans through Credilike.me and over 3000 defaulting accounts are listed for collection on Kobra.Red. The company has been able to get influential financial players like Credito Real, Infosel Financiero and Antonio Del Valle (Grupo Empresarial Kaluz) on board as investors. The start-up won the first place at the Latin American Village Capital contest.

Why Facebook?

The three founders met in college and have over 10 years of experience in investment banking and consumer finance. They wanted to leverage the trust network of Facebook to solve the credit problem for the unbanked middle and lower class in Mexico.  They structured a crowd credit score which was inspired by Grameen Bank and other microfinance institutions, which use peer pressure to ensure that the borrower makes his payments on time. The company had applicants write a message on their Facebook wall, “I am looking for a loan, if you think I am trustworthy please like the post and comment on why I am trustworthy”. This helped create an environment of trust around the applicant and obviously it motivated the borrower to pay as he did not want to let down his friends who had supported him for the loan. It was mining the all this data generated by borrowers and their friend groups and utilized the insights to generate the first version of FB credit score. It disbursed over a thousand loans on this model before its first round of financing for $ 0.8 mil. The company’s model had to adapt to changes made by Facebook with respect to posting on walls and data mining, this led to the company creating its own platform where people can support each other by giving credit likes.


  ladder of trust

Gamification

Confianza has developed an iOS and Android app and incorporated a gamified experience for the user. The fintech start-up creates a digital avatar of the borrower who is rewarded by points, badges and ladders of trust when he pays on time. When the borrower moves up a level, he gets access to a higher loan amount, a lower rate of interest and a longer tenure to pay the loan. This has been a win-win for the lender. It started out by targeting Mexicans in the age group of 18-25, 50% of whom have no credit history. Through the social media and gamification features, it creates a distinct identity which helps attract the millennial to the company. It also makes it easier for the millennials to understand the benefits of paying on time as there is a tangible benefit for the genuine borrower.

Numbers

The company offers loan from $100 to $1000 for 15 days to 7 months. The payback is weekly or fortnightly but loans are revolving in structure (i.e. they can be rolled over to the original or higher amount once paid in full). This will help increase the Life Time Value of the customer (LTV) of Credilike.me as once a customer gets a loan on the platform he will automatically be eligible for a new loan as and when the old one is paid in full. Interest rates range from 29% to 3% a month. Credit Cards in Mexico charge around 60% annually so at the lower side the start-up’s rates are comparable. The application is 100% online, facilitating a hassle free experience.

Payment pause

The lender has a unique feature which allows the borrower to pause his payments for up to 30 days. This empowers the borrower to fix any unseen urgent issues and control their finances. The company goes as far as to not charge interest during the period nor does it penalize the borrower by reporting the delay. This option should create immense goodwill for the company amongst all stakeholders.

Freelance p2p collections

The company understands with the unbanked in millions, customer acquisition is not an issue. The pain point is in recovering the dues. The door-to-door collection is a very expensive task, especially as the transaction size is in hundreds of dollars. Pan-Mexican lending companies usually have in-house services or have outsourced to major players proficient in collections. Credilike.me found that the national collection agencies were not interested in servicing small start-ups.

This gave birth to Kobra.Red, a platform for freelance collection agents and financial institutions. 5 financial institutions have signed up with Kobra.Red so far and 10 more are in the onboarding process.

kobra 2

A freelance collection agent can charge 15 to 30% of the amount collected. But it helps the lenders to pay only for services rendered and for money collected from the delinquent parties. Kobra connects collectors with financial institutions that require door to door collection. Kobra has 5 companies on board and 10 in the pipeline. The platform has more than 150 certified collectors and 2000 accounts available for collection.

Default rates

The startup has a default rate of 16% which is lower than the credit card industry’s default rate of 18%. As it is charging rates as high as 29% per month, the company’s unit economics should be in the green. The company targets to grow its loan portfolio while maintaining the default rates. It aims to have 2000 collectors on Kobra and 100,000 accounts for collection within 18 months. Confianza has the ability to capture a major share of the Mexican industry because of its complementary product suite. Investors’ major concern in developing countries is the ability to collect from borrowers; by creating Kobra.Red the company has not only created a new revenue stream but strengthened its core product exponentially.

 

Author: George Popescu and Heena Dhir

George Popescu

 

 

About the author

George Popescu

Serial entrepreneur.

George sold and exited his most successful company, Boston Technologies (BT) group, in 2014. BT was a technology, market maker, high-frequency trading and inter-broker broker-dealer in the FX Spot, precious metals and CFDs space company. George was the Founder and CEO and he boot-strapped from $0 to a $20+ million in revenue without any equity investment. BT has been #1 fastest growing company in Boston in 2011 according to the Boston Business Journal and the only company being in top 10 fastest in 2012-13 as it was #5 in 2012. BT has been on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US for 4 years in a row ( #143, #373, #897 and #1270). After the company sale in July 2014 until February 2015 George was Head-of-Strategy for Currency Mountain ( www.currencymountain.com ), a USD 100 million+ holding company focused on retail and medium institutional currencies, precious metals, stocks, fixed income and commodities businesses.

• Over the last 10 years, George founded 10 companies in online lending, craft beer brewery, exotic sports car rental space, hedge funds, peer-reviewed scientific journal ( Journal of Cellular and Molecular medicine…) and more. George advised 30+ early stage start-ups in different fields. George was also a mentor at MIT’s Venture Mentoring Services and Techstar Fintech in NY.

• Previously George obtained 3 Master's Degrees: a Master's of Science from MIT working on 3D printing, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Supelec, France and a Master's in Nanosciences from Paris XI University. Previously he worked as a visiting scientist at MIT in Bio-engineering for 2 years. George had 3 undergrad majors: Maths, Physics and Chemistry. His scientific career led to about 10 publications and patents.

• On the business side, Boston Business Journal has named me in the top 40 under 40 in 2012 in recognition of his business achievements.

• George is originally from Romania and grew up in Paris, France.

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