From Seed to FinTech is a series that explores FinTechs’ entrepreneurial journeys from idea to success supported by UOB’s innovation accelerator The FinLab. As a dedicated ecosystem partner to the region’s start-up community, The FinLab has helped drive expansion and innovation for over 14,000 businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt credit markets worldwide. This puts the spotlight on lenders, who play a vital role in delivering financial assistance to people and businesses. Given the pace of change and disruption, the world needs more innovative, resilient and flexible lending platforms better suited to our post-pandemic reality.
Even before the pandemic, FinTech start-up Turnkey Lender disrupted the lending industry with its intelligent platform that automates the lending process from end to end. Learn how Turnkey Lender found its footing in the ASEAN market with support from The FinLab and UOB, and how it continues to make fair financing possible globally.
Turnkey Lender was founded in 2014 by Dmitry Voronenko and Elena Ionenko. Driven by its goal to democratise digital lending in all markets, the company has since become a leading provider of lending automation and embedded financing software globally.
The company’s name provides a glimpse into its ambitions: turnkey describes a complete product or service ready for immediate use, reflecting Turnkey Lender’s aim to simplify the lending process for businesses. It disrupted the credit industry with its lightweight yet robust end-to-end lending automation platform, which is flexible and scalable enough to digitise the lending process for any organisation—from banks to alternative lenders, manufacturers to medical professionals.
Dmitry’s and Elena’s previous experience in the credit industry influenced this focus on automating the lending process. They started thinking about this concept in 2012, when the first wave of lending platforms began. “We were lucky to be inside the industry,” recalls Dmitry. “We saw that smart bankers were moving out of the major banks to make start-ups around this opportunity.”
As industry insiders, Dmitry and Elena were privy to prevailing issues in the lending process. They realized that technology could streamline the lending process, eliminate wasted time during the application process and optimise outdated business flows. Focusing on these areas can also address common problems that still permeate the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector.
Today, Turnkey Lender provides an all-in-one Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that automates digital lending through cloud-based technologies powered by artificial intelligence (AI). When used for loan application processing, AI yields a more advanced and accurate analysis than traditional manual approaches. AI also reveals borrowing trends and patterns that are hard to notice and capture manually.
Turnkey Lender’s AI-powered and fully automated embedded lending platform enables businesses to finance their clients or customers. The software is now being used by traditional, alternative and embedded lenders in the FinTech, telecom, medical retail and B2B lending space in over 50 countries.
Aside from automating the lending process, Turnkey Lender is also keen on promoting ethical lending and sustainable development through technology. More than 25 per cent of Turnkey Lender’s clients are non-profits and companies that extend credit to immigrants, asylum seekers and underdeveloped communities to improve their quality of life and hasten livelihood development.
“We’ve always wanted to build a company that will be truly global,” shares Dmitry. “Our initial strategy was to start in the United Kingdom, then the United States, and then go to Singapore. What they found in Singapore is “a very FinTech-friendly and start-up-friendly atmosphere,” recalls Dmitry. “Here, it’s a true meritocracy, even in the start-up world.”
Turnkey Lender saw the potential in the region and understood the difficulties of doing business in a foreign country without local support. “We were in a situation where it would be much easier to set up a company and start doing business here. But we also understood that we need somebody to help us start because we did not know the particulars of doing business here,” explains Dmitry.
Once they set up shop in Singapore, Turnkey Lender started looking for an accelerator. A series of introductions led them to The FinLab, a FinTech accelerator powered by UOB.
“We were very lucky—a businessman from London, who also worked for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), introduced us to Felix, the director of this wonderful accelerator,” recalls Dmitry. He is referring to Felix Tan, former Managing Director of The FinLab and now one of its Mentors-in-Residence (MiR).
After that introduction, Turnkey Lender officially joined The FinLab in 2016. With The FinLab’s vast and diverse business and investor networks, Turnkey Lender could tap into their collective knowledge to better understand the lending landscape in the region. Additionally, mentors from The FinLab also provided credit risk assessment advice.
Through the networking events organized by The FinLab, Turnkey Lender became more familiar with the start-up founders and other FinTech companies in the region, jumpstarting their membership in the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA). “We felt welcome and cared for, which helped us greatly,” recalls Dmitry. In 2016, the same year the company joined The FinLab, Turnkey Lender was one of the ten FinTechs that won S$1 million from the SFA.
UOB, in turn, introduced Turnkey Lender to key investors and customers, such as Innoven Capital, one of their major customers. “This is the direct way that UOB helped us to be known,” shares Dmitry. This partnership with The FinLab and UOB helped Turnkey Lender better position itself in the ASEAN market.
After graduating from The FinLab, Turnkey Lender explored developing regional localisations or country-specific editions of its software, specifically for the Philippines and Indonesia. In recognition of the company’s efforts to make fair financing possible through intelligent proprietary lending automation solutions, Turnkey Lender’s co-founder and CEO Dmitry Voronenko was named FinTech Leader of the Year at the 2019 Singapore FinTech Awards.
Today, Turnkey Lender continues to do business outside Singapore. “It’s truly possible to become a global company out of Singapore,” shares Dmitry. For one, it’s relatively easy to do business in Singapore. “Everything is digital, so everything is easy and fast to do. Everything is arranged, fair, transparent and easy.”
The Singapore government also has initiatives that promote FinTech industry models, such as accelerator programmes and FinTech association activities. “The Government also organised a regulatory sandbox, which is marvellous, especially in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic,” recalls Dmitry. The FinTech Regulatory Sandbox, set out by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), provides a well-defined space where start-ups can safely experiment with innovative solutions for the financial sector before deployment.
Through the years, Singapore has become an economic and innovation hub, a gateway to other ASEAN markets. From Singapore, you can easily arrange access to all markets and do business with the rest of Asia-Pacific, and even the rest of the world, shares Dmitry. International events such as the Singapore FinTech Festival also catalyse meaningful public-private partnerships at the intersection of financial services, public policy and technology.
Recently, Turnkey Lender closed a US$10 million new funding round, which will be used to sustain growth in the embedded lending space across North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. “This will turbocharge the next stage of our growth. We believe embedded lending will soon be part of any customer relationship globally,” Dmitry said in a press statement.
The company plans to increase its market share and realize its vision of becoming the “Shopify for embedded lending.” Turnkey Lender will double down on its current markets, namely Southeast Asia, the United States and Canada, with plans to gradually establish its presence in London and Dubai. “We have big plans to get at least 25 per cent market share in embedded lending,” shares Dmitry.
“Right now, we need to be better in the embedded lending space, because it grows with astonishing speed,” he adds. “We want to be the number one software choice for every company that requires embedded lending solutions—this is our focus for now.”
If you are looking to transform and expand your business, sign up to be part of The FinLab, which connects businesses to a rich ecosystem of mentorship programmes, tech and finance partners, industry resources, and more. Or get in touch with us to find out how we can support you.
This article is jointly written by The FinLab and UOB. This article shall not be copied or relied upon by any person for whatever purpose. This article is given on a general basis without obligation and is strictly for information only. The information contained in this article is based on certain assumptions, information and conditions available as at the date of the article and may be subject to change at any time without notice. You should consult your own professional advisers about the issues discussed in this article. Nothing in this article constitutes accounting, legal, regulatory, tax or other advice. This article is not intended as an offer, recommendation, solicitation, or advice to purchase or sell any investment product, securities or instruments. Although reasonable care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and objectivity of the information contained in this article, UOB and The FinLab and their employees make no representation or warranty, whether express or implied, as to its accuracy, completeness and objectivity and accept no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission or any consequence or any loss or damage howsoever suffered by any person arising from any reliance on the views expressed and the information in this article.
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