Credit Strategy caught up with Michael Common, CEO and founder of Nivo for a 60 second interview ahead of the Lending Summit
CS: What’s been the story of your career so far?
MC: After university, I joined Barclays and spent many years there deploying new technologies, products, and processes in different divisions of the Group, globally. Most latterly I was the Product Director for Barclays Business and Corporate Onboarding. There we transformed clunky, time-consuming paper and email-based processes into lean, digital customer journeys. This programme team won the Agile Team of the Year award in Barclays and later formed the backbone of Nivo. Nivo was identified as an incredible opportunity from a side project I’d been running with colleagues in my spare time.
CS: How was Nivo born?
MC: A small team of us had been working on prototypes of the future of banking off the side of our desks. We built a messaging-based prototype that won the world’s biggest FinTech hackathon. We realised that there was a huge opportunity for a messaging network that was secure and safe enough for financial services and other regulated industries to trust. Our vision was a low cost, low effort solution for all regulated providers to have immediate access to the same innovations driving leading FinTech and challenger banks success.
We negotiated to become the very first early-stage business spin-out from Barclays and Nivo was born.
CS: What are the big issues affecting the Broker/Lender Market Today?
MC: Like many regulated markets, it still relies heavily on the use of archaic channels like telephone, paper, post, and email. As a result, there are big fraud issues. The customer experience is poor. Customer onboarding is expensive and slow. There’s a massive missed opportunity to do more business.
Brokers and lenders need to get out the mindset that technology needs to come from large, bespoke, centralised solutions and programmes. Solutions like Nivo are proven, highly-effective, incredibly secure and low cost and quick to deploy.
CS: How do you think the industry will change in the coming year?
MC: Within the year, I think a lot of onboarding activity will become digitised, particular when it comes to the collection of data and evidence. That includes the sharing of data and evidence between brokers, packagers and lenders which is needlessly inefficient now.
We see a lot of demand for brokers/lenders to build more ongoing relationships with their customers which makes sense given the cost of sales. I expect this focus will lead to more repeat business for different financial needs within the next 1-3 years.
Over the next 5 years, the credit risk assessment processes will also start to adapt as the industry gets more comfortable with the insights that can be derived from open banking. This needs to happen, but it will probably take large scale disrupters to come through who are better positioned to take the early risk to prove the value.
CS: Without giving too much away, what do you hope delegates will learn from your session at the Lending Summit?
MC: Getting access to the type of technology leading FinTechs and challenger banks use can be incredibly quick and inexpensive. Not only is a proven solution like ours much quicker and cheaper to deploy, but it is also proven. As such, it is immediately of a much higher quality than any bespoke project. It will deliver instant benefits and is proven as being secure and compliant.
CS: What other sessions are you looking forward to at this year’s Lending Summit?
MC: “What does affordability look like?” – this is an area where we see a lot of waste in the industry. “Differentiating in an increasingly competitive market” – it will be interesting to hear some of the ideas people have to stand out from the crowds.
CS: What developments in technology do lenders and brokers need to watch out for?
MC: Anything digital that threatens to make other propositions easier for customers to access than yours. We often hear dismissions of our mobile-first, messaging-based technology because clients believe their customers prefer interacting with them on the phone, post, and email. There’s a reason why mobile messaging now transcends every demographic as the communication channel of choice. It is better than the phone. Dismissing better ways for customers to give you what you need risks your proposition becoming niche for the last few who prefer phone, paper, and email. Disruptive tech firms focus first on making the customer’s job easy.
Also, expect to be a target for fraud. Fraudsters can easily exploit the weaknesses in unsecured legacy channels and will always target the weakest link in any market.