LONDON, Sept 7 (IFR) - Former Royal Bank of Scotland banker
Richard Bartlett has become chief financial officer at Uberima,
a fintech consumer lender he ultimately intends to shift to an
asset-backed funding model.
Uberima will offer short-term consumer loans, and styles
itself as a for-profit social enterprise taking on so-called
'payday lenders' that have gained a reputation for exploiting
low-income borrowers with sky-high interest rates.
"Financial services can be disproportionately expensive for
those least able to afford them," Bartlett told IFR.
Uberima says its edge will come from the technology it will
use for credit decisions, allowing the firm to provide cheaper
loans while still making a profit.
"We believe our credit engine is best-in-class in this
sector. It allows us to take a more granular view of credit
risk, which will make our loans 10%-40% cheaper than the
alternatives, depending on maturity," he said.
Bartlett left RBS a year ago, after an 18-year career in the
capital markets, having most recently been head of UK client
coverage at the bank. He ultimately intends to bring Uberima to
the fixed income markets with asset-backed transactions.
"There is a perception of exploitation from short-term
lenders because of the high interest rates they charge," said
"Our model cuts the right balance between social impact and
profits, but we need to raise competitive commercial debt to
make it viable."
Uberima is currently running historical data through its
credit engine, operating on capital supplied by its four
co-founders, and needs to raise more equity.
But it is already exploring moving into other markets where
poor credit scores can be problematic for consumers, such as
mobile phone contracts and pre-paid credit cards.
Uberima's stated social mission is to "provide affordable
credit and other financial services to individuals who are
excluded from, or underserved by, mainstream credit and
financial services markets".
The company is committed to re-investing at least 50% of its
profits back into the business.
(Reporting by Tom Porter; editing by Alex Chambers)