"High street SME credit slow and out-of-date during pandemic"

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Interviewed By TAB RadioFinance

As the UK government works with fintechs to accelerate its lending programme for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), new innovations in credit risk modelling are emerging to help bridge the supply gap.

The UK government's effort to rescue small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the fallout of COVID-19 impact through the injection of GBP330 billion ($412.8 billion) in additional liquidity was almost derailed by its initial choice of delivery channel - the British high street banks. The traditional banking system was simply incapable of dealing with that kind of scale. The tide, however, has now turned after the government opted to include fintechs in the equation that allowed the deployment of funds at scale and speed.

In this session, Martin McCann, co-founder of Trade Ledger; Flemming Bengtsen, founder of Nimbla; and Gabriele Sabato, co-founder of Wiserfunding, discussed with Emmanuel Daniel how innovations in financial technology are speeding up the release of government-guaranteed SME loans in UK and the creation of new lending models.

The key points that came out in the discussion were:

  • Capacity to lend needs to scale up to 100 times the pre-pandemic requirements and 10 times the usual speed to process them 
  • New approaches needed to replace the outdated credit models of UK High Street banks
  • Technology allows lenders to do real-time stress testing of borrowers using digital data and determine the state they’ll be in a few months down the road
  • Fintechs are enabling funds to lend directly to customers, as well as a host of other differentiated and competitive next-generation lending models via digital channels
  • How the UK government is working with fintechs to innovate lending since the pandemic

Here is the full transcript of the session:

Emmanuel Daniel (ED): Around the world, a number of countries’ governments have stepped in to provide credit to the small business environment, especially backstopping bank loans. Strangely enough, in a number of countries where governments have been guaranteeing small business loans, they've forgotten to include all of the new fintech players – the innovators in the marketplace – to both distribute price and profile the risk that is coming through during this COVID-19 global pandemic. I came across an initiative in the UK where a consortium of three players have pushed back on the government – that's how I see it. I'll now ask each of them to explain how this whole initiative came about where fintechs have started to ask to be part of that process of distributing loans, profiling where the needs are and be part of the process of supporting business in these very difficult times, because the kind of risks that are coming through because of the pandemic is unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Today, I have with me Martin McCann, the co-founder of Trade Ledger, Flemming Bengtsen, the founder of Nimbla and Gabriele Sabato, the co-founder of Wiserfunding. The first thing I'd really like to know is, what was the original state of the government's response in the UK to creating this credit guarantee scheme? What was the conversation with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that eventually started the process of including you as a fintech to participate and use the expertise that you bring into the market today under the circumstances?

Martin McCann (MM):These are very unprecedented times where the impact on cash flow and liquidity for SMEs have never been seen before in peacetime. The measures taken by most governments, including the UK government, are somewhat extraordinary to try and address these very unusual circumstances. 

The strategy is pretty strong. We all believe that the idea of flowing $412.8 billion (GBP 330 billion) of additional liquidity into the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector is a welcome as well as required step and strategy to resolve the impact of the crisis. However, as a fintech industry, we think that the speed at which implementation of that strategy happened has led to a couple of oversights where the fintech industry could have helped more to solve the problem. 

The first issue is, the government went to the usual suspects and channels to try and figure out how to distribute the funds – that's a sub sector of the High Street banks that was the initial port of call. The challenge that creates for the scheme to distribute all of the funds to SMEs is that, even in normal times, a subset of the usual channels of distribution can't deal with that kind of scale. By our estimations, we think that in the UK, the industry in the nation needs about 100 times of the distribution capacity that's normally available in a normal situation.

MM: We understand why fintech wasn't looked at as a natural option. But, as we've gone forward that, there are two distinct dimensions of engagement with the government: one is including fintech lenders on the panel of lenders. There's been some great progress in the last couple of weeks where there's about 10 fintech lenders who are now qualified to be able to provide the CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) scheme themselves, which is a government-backed scheme. 

The other dimension that wasn't being talked about, which is really why this coalition came together – the Fintech Task Force – was how can technology be part of the overall platform of the solution? We realised that working with our partners, like Wiserfunding and Nimbla, we had most of the building blocks of digital infrastructure, which could be deployed extremely quickly to provide a next-generation deployment capability and capacity for the UK market to try and solve the problem and the timelines that were required. Our view was that it's inevitable that the market is going to move that direction anyway. What this unusual scenario creates is an acceleration of the adoption of that type of technology.

ED: Were you offering to disperse government funds, government-guaranteed funds or your own funds?

MM: What we're offering to do is to help the sources of funds that are available to connect up with solving the problem. We provide the tech, all of the services associated with the end-to-end problem. 

What Trade Ledger does is we got a core infrastructure platform that goes end-to-end lending to businesses in a very digital capacity. So, typically, our customers will get applications complete in four minutes – fully digital with no paperwork – as opposed to two to six weeks against a backdrop of 90 days to fulfil credit in the industry average.

ED: Did you enter the programme at a later stage and therefore you are seeing higher risk businesses? Or, are you still well within that process where there's a huge backlog to be processed? Which type of institutions are you working with at the moment?

MM: I think all three of us are working with different types of institutions or different parts of the problem, but what we find is that our existing customers who are High Street banks and alternative lenders, turn to us for advice and suggestions and how to stand up a solution quickly to deal with capacity of up to 100 times of what we're used to seeing requirements and speed of more than 10 times to process those requirements. The next stage then is how do we make those capabilities available to a bigger range of the panel, but we're not providing funds ourselves. Similar to Fleming and Gabriele, what we're offering is a part or combination of components of the solution to distribute those funds.

ED: Are there aspects of your modelling structure that are specific to this crisis or you’re using just about the same models as the High Street banks?

MM: That's the great thing about the proposition, which we combined and put together. The High Street bank proposition has always been challenged, servicing the SME space anyway. There's a huge gap in funding for SMEs in normal times, whereas between us, we actually got all of the new capabilities required to provide digital lending. In answering that question, that's probably a good one for Gabriele to pick up on because his business Wiserfunding specifically has new models for SME credit decisioning.

Gabriele Sabato (GS): The key now is to assess the resilience of a company, rather than really a probability of default, because in a moment like this, obviously, all companies are suffering. So, what we do with Wiserfunding, we have implemented a feature that allows any lender to do some sort of real-time stress testing, and basically using these to look at the profile of companies as they will be in few months, rather than as of now. This, obviously, Emmanuel, as you were suggesting, is a key element in a moment like this. There are many aspects of what this SME Task Force is offering that are specific to the moment we are in. That is mainly linked to the fact that we are three fintech firms – fairly, relatively small and dynamic – and so, we can adapt a lot faster than the bigger guys that are out in the market. This is one important strength of our proposition.

ED: Gabriele, only because you mentioned the probability of default, it just struck me that eventually, banks will need to bring all this back onto the books and it starts to show up on the Basel III proposition and so on. What is your take on that? How are the loans being created under these circumstances with a government guarantee going to look on the books in terms of probability of default and Basel III?

GS: Undoubtedly, they won’t look good. That is the reason they got a guarantee that goes between 80% to even 100% for the smaller scheme called Bounce Back. Then there is the bigger scheme, the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) loans, and a further bigger one that covers the large corporates. There are a lot of guarantees that mitigate the loss given default, and lenders are left to assess the probability of default. Now, obviously, all the lenders that have left their lending criteria before the crisis are not lending to any new business. This is part of the problem. We see a lot of de-risking of the books, so a lot of lenders are using those schemes to restructure their existing clients and existing books, with relatively low new lending done. That is a problem like Martin was suggesting in terms of the deployment of these funds. That is the objective of the government right now. How will they look like in the future? What will happen to the capital requirements of banks? It's speculating at this point, but obviously, there are a lot of articles out there that are already talking about a new credit crunch. Obviously, banks will have troubles to raise capital at this point. All these loans will consume more capital. It's pretty much what we saw in 2008. ‘Will they need another bailout?’ I guess, at this point, is the question. Let's try to solve first this crisis and then we'll think about the other one.

ED: I take it that each one of the three of you looks at different types of lending, but let's introduce Flemming into this conversation at this point because Fleming lends against invoices.

Flemming Bengtsen (FB): We help people lend against invoices. We put a credit wrap on the receivables themselves on the invoices. We facilitate. We’re basically the grease that helps invoice finance, trade finance and supply chain finance happen. At the moment, there are not many people who are willing to provide that working capital without a credit wrap being on the receivables because of the increased insolvency risk on those receivables themselves.

ED: Therefore, this is a fee-based business basically for you because you don't actually fund the lending, but you profile it and then you sell the debt back to someone else.

FB: We sell the insurance on the receivable, so that it can be funded.

ED: What is the need for the insurance on the receivable? Is that a market that is over and above the government-guaranteed lending taking place right now?

FB: It's kind of the next step. So, if you think of a small business, they have not been operational for two, nearly three months. They have not had any inflow of revenue and they, therefore, need to pay the salaries, rent, etcetera. The CBILS ultimately hopes to plug that gap. 

When things recover, when business comes back, they're going to need to have that working capital facility. That's where we come in. We're very much part of the recovery when things come back to business. That's where we've been positioning ourselves. We're at a slightly different stage, and so this is obviously where our own pitch to the government is, which has been successful because we got a government-backed reinsurance scheme for trade credit insurance. We're talking directly to the BEIS – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, effectively. All the details of the scheme will be announced in the next week or two.

ED: Tell me a little bit more about the credit profiling that you do. In Asia, we've started seeing credit profiling against trade invoices and supply chains. Any form of excuses to sort of tie the funding to actual flows, basically. What does SME credit profiling look like traditionally, where are you taking it and how applicable is that to what's happening right now?

FB: This is where the partnership that we announced with Gabriele was very important. What we're looking at in particular is kind of a very micro, small level of what looks like supply chain finance in many respects. Smaller businesses are going to struggle to get credit terms from their suppliers right now, because that perceived insolvency risk has gone up so much. If they can't get those credit terms, then they're going to have to borrow the money. They are already heavily indebted through CBILS, with Bounce Back, and so what they don't want to do is add on an extra layer of debt. You're layering debt on top of debt, then the company becomes completely unviable. What we're doing is, by using Gabriele’s models, we can take accounting data straight from the SME, plug it into Gabriele’s model and then out spits a new rating. We then apply our underwriting on top of that, which effectively says, ‘Well, okay, what capacity do we have? What’s our risk appetite based on those data points?’

ED: Martin, your credit scoring model, how's that different from the High Street credit model and how is that relevant to what's going on right now?

MM: I guess the problem that we're looking at is the fact that most of the High Street credit models are kind of out of date with the requirements of SMEs and the data that they are able to provide, which would feed a credit model. What Flemming and Gabriele will be talking about today is basically what would be a fit-for-purpose sort of credit strategy approach for assessing and providing credit to SMEs. From our perspective, we're quite agnostic as to what the credit model approach is. We operate a bring your own credit model or credit algorithms approach, where we'll support any type of credit modelling that you want to put in market for the SME. We're very much the infrastructure that drives new digital lending products and approaches to SME funding. We've seen lots of interesting models among our customers. The majority of them are based on some kind of secured lending, either on receivables, inventory or assets, such as equipment. Those typically are the three large growth areas that we're seeing. Large flows go through the go-to-market strategy perspective from different lenders across the market. What we do is basically enable the lender to use new types of data to imagine new types of credit scoring and real-time updates, so that they can actually look to solve that undersupply of credit, which even in normal times, is there. According to the World Bank, the undersupply of credit globally is about $1.5 trillion. The majority of that is actually in Asia – 40% of that is SMEs in Asia. We've been working on that problem even before the crisis. What we're seeing is an acceleration of new credit models. Our technology and infrastructure effectively allow you to bring any type of new credit model and configure it on that infrastructure in a digital way.

ED: You said new credit model and going back to secured lending. I guess there is a kind of a push and pull, trying to experiment with new models. Who does the validation process? How receptive has the FCA been? Is this crisis a moment to actually experiment some of these new models and be bold about it? 

The peer-to-peer lending universe in the UK, and also to some extent, in the US, has been sort of subservient to the High Street banks. They've taken on higher risks in the market and so on. Does this pandemic offer a situation where peer-to-peer lending, non-traditional financial institutions and a whole new market that probably didn't exist before [emerge]?

MM: My personal view is that the pandemic will create huge opportunity for different types of lending models to actually get traction in the UK market that weren't there before. There's been a number of challenges for alternative lending in the UK. Regulation is obviously one of them. I mean, the reason why the banks are unable to innovate more quickly is that they need to go through the regulatory approval framework. The FCA is quite open to consultation around that, but that process in its own right takes time and investment. Obviously, the treatment of business lending under Basel means that there's structural constraints as well with capital efficiency considerations with the bank. Most of the innovation with completely new models is happening outside of that bank-regulated framework. It's happening in the alternative lending sector. We have seen large adoption, relatively to other countries, have both peer-to-peer and new types of lending. 

One of the reasons we like working with Flemming's company is that trade insurance wrapped lending product gives a whole different perspective on what a lending product could look like in the marketplace. It gives a whole level of control over expected losses that were not previously available with lending products. But our view is that the types of models, which will come up, will be based on better credit decisioning based on more digital data as well as very clear and easy to scale ways of securitising those products based on often intangible assets of the business. We think that receivables and inventory will become the basis of understanding the inflows and the borrowing base and limits available. We'll see a surge in new types of digital products, which effectively have lineage going back to traditional products but are so differentiated because of the real-time and digital capabilities that there will be a new set of products.

ED: Give me an example. At which point does your modelling need to be real time?

MM: There's a number of challenges that will get addressed in parallel with coming out of this crisis. We mentioned the undersupply of credit. The reason for that is that the models and the approach use data, which is typically out of date and only gets updated, say, quarterly or monthly at best. The products are very stale and have been around for quite a long time, but the capacity of the industry to actually furnish real-time digital data is there in a lot of cases. 

There are more and more digital data sources coming online. There's accounting data, which all three of the firms actually use on this call, that we can get access to via application programming interfaces in real time. Through open banking, there's real-time banking transaction data. Between those two sources of data, we can put together a pretty complete picture of the inflows and outflows of the business and the credit worthiness of the business. We can layer on other information, such as logistics information, inventory information and shipping information, which means we can build lots of different views of what credit should look like for the business. We can also help people who got sources of funds with an appetite to flow into SMEs and find ways to do that securely and predictably so they know what the performance of their portfolio of credit will look like in an entire credit cycle.

In terms of what real time means, that's where the technology provides a real advantage. Real time can be – transaction happens within seconds or minutes, the update happens to the position for the credit provider. They can see how risk is evolving operationally in virtual real time.

FB: I might add to what Martin was saying there. It's also the granularity of the data that Martin's talking about. It doesn't necessarily need to be real time a lot of the time, but it's the fact that you actually got access to the SME data in the first place, as opposed to some out-of-date accounts or the data from companies’ house from a long time ago. It's the freshness of the data as much as anything.

ED: The question I want to ask Martin and Flemming is, would your business look different before the crisis, when there is a lockdown and if it extends to a longer period of time and trade flow starts to look different? Also, the amount of risk that you're actually taking on your book, because the longer this pandemic stretches, the higher the risks that are generated.

FB: Did the business look different? No, it was pretty much business as usual in terms of how we operate. The difference is the demand. In normal times, on the receivables side of things, in terms of finance, the demand for the credit wrap is always there. That has increased in terms of direct to SME. The demand has gone through the roof. This is something that traditionally SMEs don't worry about. They don't worry about the solvency of their customers usually until it's too late, but now they are genuinely worried about the solvency of their customers. From that perspective, yes. It's changed the demand side of our business, and we're making huge strides to change that. 

In terms of the lockdown, obviously, volumes have disappeared, but we anticipate them coming back. It's really about how we position ourselves from a risk perspective to use the government scheme, in conjunction with the paper that we have sat behind us and the capacity that's in the market to ensure a smooth transition. The government reinsurance scheme will give some comfort in the short term, similar to CBILS. But in the long term, you got to look at that transition. When that reinsurance scheme disappears, you want a seamless transition into the new normal, whatever that is. Predominantly, what I'm basically saying there is, it's not just a free put. You can't just put all the risks on the government, because when that put disappears and your customers turn around and say, ‘I still want to have that coverage when that reinsurance has disappeared,’ and you say, ‘Oh, no, now it's gone’, that's not only a terrible customer experience. It's a bad business decision.

ED: Gabriele, are you direct to customers? Or, are you an originator?

GS: We offer mainly risk assessments. We mainly work with lenders, insurances and funds – anyone that needs to assess the quality of SMEs. Our models are specifically developed for that purpose.

ED: Who are your clients at the moment? Where's the demand coming from or, rather, where are the requests coming from?

GS: The vast majority of our clients are bank and non-bank lenders. That's historically the ones that have been used the most to use credit risk as a good way of lending their funds. Increasingly now, funds directly are playing a role into the lending industry. Before, we saw funds lending through lenders, so most of the funds would deploy their funds to other lenders and let them deploy to the real economy. Now, many more of those funds are actually joining the arena and trying to lend themselves – private debt or even direct lending. That's actually one of the reasons why we thought that this task force was needed because many of those funds actually don't have the infrastructure and the tools that they would need to deploy their funds in a context like the one we are in now, in general. These are the vast majority of our customers today.

ED: That’s amazing. You know what you're doing. To what extent that you need to get FCA approval for what you're doing? Or, is this outside the ambit of the government initiatives? It's very entrepreneurial, it's very necessary, but what I'm trying to get a picture of is, to what extent have governments forgotten fintechs like you?

GS: What we are trying to provide is ready-to-use solutions. So, today, you want to go and deploy – maybe you're in big funds, you have a lot of investors that want you to deploy those funds, but you don't have the infrastructure, you don't have the risk assessment tools and the way to offer credit insurance – so, you're missing all these tools and putting them together would cost you a lot of time and effort. We can be a good solution at that point. 

What about the government? I mean, definitely, the government so far has been accepting a lot of established lenders. When we say established, we think that they're ready to lend, but the reality – if we look at the numbers – is that many of them, including banks, were not ready to lend. Our proposition can be of help to many out there in the market. That's where we could get some more recognition from the government.

MM: If you look at what we're doing, it's in addition and outside of the government's strategy to fund in the short term. Really, what we're looking at is traditionally how market forces shape competition and drive innovation in the marketplace. That's really where we sit. But, interestingly, we're starting to see a change in the shape of the lending market that will emerge from this crisis. I'm starting to observe attributes, which we've only previously seen in the US market and attributes we've only previously seen in the Chinese market start to come in various forces in the market. 

For example, picking up on what Gabrielle said, we've seen a lot of funds – who traditionally have not been able to service this market – engage with us to talk about how we can provide infrastructure for them to deploy funds at scale very quickly post the crisis in multiple countries. In three separate countries, we've seen that happen. That's very much the US model, which is a much more diversified market, where there are a lot more sort of private debt solutions available to SMEs than there are potentially in some Asian or European countries. We're starting to see that these new models have been built on a completely digital basis – similar to what you see in China – to have the ability to scale extremely quickly. They also have the capital on hand to be able to flow into scaling those models quickly. You'll start to see a lot more differentiation, a lot more innovation in the lending space post the crisis. To paraphrase what Flemming said, whatever the new normal looks like, it'll be different than what the market looked like before, which was very much driven by the shape of the capital market and the regulation.

ED: Martin, there’s the core lending and there’s the insured lending, what about the alternative lenders and so on? There's another dimension, which is really the trade flow or the supply chain lending, working with principals to work out a lending programme, which may not even result in actual funds being dispersed. It may be inventory control, it may be process, and the Japanese seem to be very good at that. They've been doing that for over many years since liquidity was an issue in the Japanese market. Your models, all three of yours, seemed to lend itself to new approaches that get further and further away from balance sheet. I take it that you have those ideas in mind as well.

MM: We're in a pretty unique place in the industry where we're on the cusp of significant and rapid innovation on multiple dimensions – the change in regulations, the opening up of competition, the availability of digital data and the application of technology. The last two of those, that’s really what the three companies here really focus on to enable that innovation to happen. What we do, basically, is we provide the technology and the services that enable a much more differentiated and competitive next generation of lending to occur.

ED: How much of what you do now – the three of you – is a function of price? Given that lots of government lending now is highly subsidised and the businesses that you work with would have a premium on price, therefore, the take up rates may not be as high as you might want it to be even, given the crisis as it is. How much of that is a function of price and at what cost?

MM: That's an interesting dynamic in the market overall. Traditionally, you got the two ends of the market covered pretty well. Micro business lending is quite competitive, up to about $62,000 (GBP 50,000) in the UK, and then large corporate lending is very well serviced. But the SME sector tends to append to either end of that market and hasn't been very well serviced itself. That's reflected in the rates. In most countries, you see that there's basically very low-cost lending through the banks of a couple of percent, and then there's a big gulf to the alternative lending sector. That can be double digits of interest rates and costs and nothing in the middle. Our view, my view, is that the reason for that is that the products haven't been defined for that mass middle market, the SME sector. That's something which we're starting to see get addressed now. It's a very attractive sector with very attractive returns and a very good credit profile. If you're able to properly understand that credit profile, what you'll start to see is a much more stratospheric approach to actually how products come to market. The basis of SME segmentation is very broad at the moment. One bank we deal with, their SME segment goes all the way from 6 million turnover businesses to 500 million turnover businesses. You can’t treat a segment that large as one segment. It needs to be broken down into half a dozen segments at least. That's where we're starting to see a lot more focus from the new players and the new funds coming into market.

FB: One thing I'd add with that is it's also about the efficiency in as much as when you start getting more and more micro in the level of either the lending, the underwriting or whatever it is. You can't afford to have a human being doing those processes. It's about the fact that you can do the digital process from end to end automatically, especially in our market. When you have a human, not only it slows it down, it also increases the cost, but also the operational risk that they make a mistake. That's also a very important function within that price element.

GS: Just to close on this, in terms of pricing, our propositions combined, for the three of us, should be seen as actually more convenient in times like this. If you look at the old infrastructures, these are the ones that cost a lot of money. Old tech, and even old service providers in terms of credit risk, they all charge very high prices because they use old technologies. They sourced the wrong type of data. Our combined proposition, but also our separate propositions, they're all focused on the new digital channels. That's where Trade Ledger, Nimbla, Wiserfunding all have an advantage – a strong competitive advantage today in particular, but [also] in general in this new lending world.

ED: The mechanics of what you talked about, I know that all three of you are in the credit profiling dimension, but everything from origination to secondary market potentially can be transformed during this period. The secondary market can take the credit profiles that you provide, as being the quality of the assets being created and stuff. There's a lot of potential in what you're doing. It has scale and it's a defined market that you can create. It'll be very interesting to see how all three of you evolve from the pandemic and how it creates both depth and complexity in what you do, the secondary element of the papers that you create and the credit that you create.

The one last ground that I should ask you is, what do you feel as fintech players yourselves at this time? The support from the government that you should be getting at this point in time from the FCA, the kind of conversations that you're having and if there are opportunities that you're missing out on.

MM: We're an SME, so we look at the schemes available. From our perspective, we don't qualify for any of the credit support, but also, we don't need it. We went to market and actually raised funding ourselves. That's the thing about being in an entrepreneurial business. For us, this crisis is just another day at the office. We live in a very competitive, chaotic environment anyway. We were able to react and deal with the impact of the crisis quite quickly. I'm actually very excited about where we are. We're in a unique place in time. We're seeing a generational shift, which is accelerating because of the crisis, to adoption of a technology-first approach to business credit. It's the technologists and the technology-led businesses who are actually adding value to the transformation of the marketplace. From where we are, we're very excited. Our business actually has grown substantially since the crisis. In terms of number of staff, we've grown by more than a third. We've employed more people through the crisis. Our customer base has grown by over 25%.

MM: That's the trend we're going to see coming out of this. It's not going to be optional to digitise your lending going forward. There's going to be a huge more competition. For the first time in in 20 years, there's probably going to be a level of funding flowing into SMEs, which matches that demand in a very short period of time, because of the expansion of options that will be available to SMEs through digital data and technology. We're very excited and bullish by the prospects of whatever the new normal will look like on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FB: In terms of the government response, the CBILS and Bounce Back and most of the other schemes, [those are] not really applicable to us. We are looking at the future fund – which is a different thing – matched funding, effectively. I'll let you know, the jury's still out on that one. But from our personal perspective, I've been very impressed by the way that the government actually responded. They reached out to us personally. BEIS spoke to us directly to ensure that our needs were addressed and that the scheme that they're working through the details of now will apply to us. If I'm perfectly honest, they seem to have taken the learnings from the CBILS and Bounce Back in as much as they've made it very explicit that new business will be covered, so on and so forth. I've actually been very impressed. It may be that we're sort of less at the very start of the process where they were still learning. We've benefited from, perhaps, some of the mistakes that were made early on. But I've actually been very impressed with the way that they've handled.

GS: I agree with both Martin and Flemming. We've seen the same thing. I’m personally very impressed with the level of support that has been put in place by the UK government. Also, for what we see for our clients and for the fintech ecosystem around us. 

On the other side, also, we have seen a growth in terms of business since the start of the crisis. Obviously, we do risk, and risk in moments like this gets higher on the agenda for pretty much everyone. I would see any crisis like this as an opportunity, rather than a threat. That's what we've been saying for some time, and that's what we're seeing – growth on our side and more interest around what we do. That's beneficial.

ED: Thank you very much, all three of you. I totally enjoyed this conversation. I wanted to speak with fintech players who have sort of operated a little bit outside of government guaranteed schemes for lending to small businesses at this point in time. You had promoted the idea that you were ready, willing and able to help provide the credit profiling infrastructure that's required to build on the lending that needs to happen going forward. I also wanted to test with you the kind of models that you use, and it's very interesting that you've been exploring new models. I'm sure that will expand as the crisis works its way through, and that your clients will be working with you for new ways in which to look at credit going forward. Thank you very much.


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Bank Central Asia’s president director, Jahja Setiaatmadja, says that the key drivers of the bank’s success in the Indonesian banking industry are its digital prowess and good relationships with customers. BCA is the highest capitalised…