LTP had the pleasure of interviewing Matiss Ansviesulis, the Co-Founder and CEO of Creamfinance, which provides personal finance products in emerging markets. After completing studies at Lancaster University’s Management School and working as a business analyst for JP Morgan in London, he and Davis Barons joined forces to start Creamfinance in 2012 based on a vision to implement an innovative data-driven consumer finance company.
LTP: To start, could you provide a brief about Creamfinance and its business model?
Matiss Ansviesulis: With pleasure. Consumer finance services provider Creamfinance was founded in 2012 in Latvia and has achieved consistent growth ever since. The mission of the company is to make money available; this is done by providing consumer loans online in a convenient and speedy manner. Our company puts emphasis on using the most advanced and unique behavioral pattern recognition tools by focusing on relevant, value-adding data, otherwise also referred to as “smart data.” The purpose of smart data approach is to eliminate “noise” and focus only on necessary, value-adding data points, which are crucial for decision-making in lending. Proven by a track record from many consecutive years of practice, this is the most accurate way of measuring whether it’s appropriate to lend.
Keeping in mind the ever-growing consumers’ demand for service speed and convenience, we plan to make borrowing money online as simple as a single click and therefore, we aim to become the first one-click loan provider to consumers globally.
After a little more than four years in the market, we are proud to be operating in a number of countries across Europe and are planning to launch in Denmark and Mexico in the near future.
LTP: Creamfinance is ranked second in the Inc. 5000 Europe list with an impressive revenue growth. Can you please highlight the key reasons behind this successful ranking?
MA: From the very beginning of our business we realized that we need to grow in order to have a higher reach and bigger impact. Growth and expansion are in the DNA of our business and international expansion allowed us for higher and more impactful reach which initially translated into a 4542% three-year growth and an international acknowledgment by Inc.5000. To be recognized by Inc.5000 is yet another great achievement for Creamfinance; it is our first significant step towards building an impactful and responsive consumer finance company operating worldwide.
LTP: How do you see competition in this market and who are your biggest competitors?
MA: The alternative lending industry is hot right now, attracting both attention and investment alike. As the competition increases, it is crucial for businesses to differentiate themselves and find a niche on how to distinguish your business as well as the offering itself from others. Taking our smart data approach as well as focus on one-click loans to increase the speed of service delivery, to date, there is no direct competition that would be working towards the same objective as us.
When it comes to alternative lending online we have several competitors – 4finance, Kreditech and others. However, it is worth noting that Creamfinance has become a top-five online lender in Europe in half the time most of our competitors have been on the market and with 10 times less financing raised. Our one-click loan customer-centricity backed by smart data-driven risk management and advanced technology infrastructure has enabled us to reach these results. That’s something we are very proud of.
LTP: Recently, you closed a €1M investment round by Flint Capital. Can you tell us where this new fund will be employed by Creamfinance?
MA: Venture capital fund Flint Capital has invested €5M in Creamfinance two years ago, and have recently accomplished transaction worth €1M by buying a minority share from angel investors in Creamfinance. Such actions from Flint Capital show confidence and trust in our company. Andrew Gershfield, a partner at Flint Capital, has also recently commented that partners at the VC are happy to double bet on the Creamfinance team, which they perceive to be one of the most efficient in the market. We value the relationship with Flint and are thrilled to see a continuous interest in our business, which helps the company achieve its growth potential.
LTP: The 25-to-33-year-old is Creamfinance’s biggest customer group followed by 25-and-under. So as a company, do you spend more time and resources in understanding the millennial group?
MA: In a way, we do, as Generation Y is more interested in innovation, development and usually have higher expectations from companies providing services. Millennials have grown up in a time of rapid change, hence, they are shaped by technology and that affects their expectations for innovation, which is why businesses need to adapt. To match expectations for prompt speed and responsiveness, Creamfinance is currently working on the one-click loan offering that would fulfill customers' need for stable and speedy service once they are in need of it. We aim to provide prompt service powered by our smart data approach, which allows us for speedy decision-making and lets our customers enjoy simple, prompt service, which—at the end—translates into more rapid decisions and money in their account.
LTP: Creamfinance, as we know, is working towards one-click loans by increasing automation. Where do you see the future of FinTech heading? Will it be more tech-driven?
MA: It is clear that we are at the heart of the digital revolution. These days, financial technology is seeing explosive growth, and 2016 has actually been predicted to be one of the most significant years for FinTech. I assume that in the near future, FinTech will start a new era of customer-focused innovation, where the relationship with the customer will be at the central dimension. The ever-increasing customer expectations will inevitably affect and improve financial services. The question will only be about who will manage to adapt and survive. It is also more than likely that FinTech players will reimagine themselves digitally as open innovation is at the heart of the digital revolution. It is very likely that such a movement will allow for discovery of new areas for growth.
LTP: What are the challenges that Creamfinance faces and how do you see your future?
MA: Our challenge is to keep a high level of quality in servicing our customers as we expand. We aim to be global and have set a certain standard for our services. To follow the standard, it is crucial to provide the same level of service in every country we operate in despite the location. For that purpose, it is essential to keep a balance between the centralization and localization of tasks, and to make sure that local markets are managed with regular SWAT team visits plus an automated central performance reporting infrastructure.