axefinance – Total Lending Digitalization amid COVID-19 Outbreak

  • Dhafer Berrachid, CEO and founder , axefinance

  • 05.06.2020 04:12 pm
  • 944

Financial IT's interview with Dhafer Berrachid, CEO and founder of axefinance.

Financial IT: Can you please tell us about your company and products you are offering?

Dhafer Berrachid (DB): axefinance is a global software provider focused on lending automation for financial institutions looking for an edge in productivity and customer service for any and all client segments: retail, commercial, corporate, etc.  Axe Credit Portal is axefinance’s end-to-end integrated solution for credit automation available either as a locally hosted or SaaS solution. axefinance is a trusted partner of respected global financial institutions to name a few: Société Générale, Al Rajhi Bank, Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Fidelity Bank. With more than 30,000 users in 20+ countries, we are focused on credit process automation delivering tailor-made solutions with real and measurable value.

Financial IT: The fintech sector has not experienced such a great impact as COVID-19 crises, as the most companies worldwide. In your opinion, what are the main challenges companies are facing right now?

DB: The immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis was in depth analysis of the impacts that it has or will have over the next years.

The main challenges that are constraining our customers, banks, is to offer the same services while adhering to the rules of social distancing, without having any customers or at least minimum physical customer interaction at any branch. Everything related to the loan lifecycle, like postponing repayment or restructuring the loan or early repayment has to be offered fully and remotely through electronic channels. We digitally enable the bank to benefit from an omnichannel experience for its users and its clients as well through electronic channels that encompass customer portals, mobile lending apps, and chat bots, responsive to any of the customer requests. Moreover, there's another way to address these social distancing constraints which is through the credit and lending platform hosted and serviced by us (ACP) in order to make sure that there is absolutely no interruption in terms of lending offering to the banks’ customers.

Second challenge is to have better monitoring of the portfolio, a better reactivity to regulatory challenges and changes. It means monitoring the existing loans, identifying the non-performing ones as soon as possible, addressing a real strategy to reassess customers’ portfolio and reassess their sensitivity to COVID-19 crisis.

Challenge number three that we identified is facing huge volumes of credit applications while mitigating risk in this precarious period. This requires not only automation, but industrialization. High volumes will definitely come to the banks credit analysis desks and are inevitable (Paycheck Protection Program - PPP, government aids, flourishing newly-thriving businesses will need funds to cope with rising demands). The More automated decision-making process banks offer to their customers, the better risk mitigation and operational efficiency they will have.

Automation of Covid-19 risk factors to address the high volumes is absolutely a must. Electronic signature, automatic decision making and policy rules are part of the process. I think we had to go a step further in the automation and digitalization. Usually, the banks utilize approximately 80 percent of their credit processes through digitalized banks. Now with the COVID-19 crisis impact we definitely need to automate like 90 percent, if not 100 percent of it.

Financial IT: What is the role of axefinance in addressing the challenges and impacts of Covid-19? Do you offer a certain products or solutions to your customers?

DB: Definitely, these challenges that we have identified are fully addressed either through existing features that we have or through functionality that we are developing. We started thinking about going further in the client communication channels. The chat bot that we are offering today embeds a credit simulator, cross selling algorithms in order to offer the appropriate products to the customer. It involves an automatic calculator proposing the appropriate amount based on the repayment capacity of the customer.

One of other features that we implemented is the digital signature. It offered the flexibility to push specific products during these specific times and to embed the new regulations.

We are offering a user-friendly business rule engine allowing banks to set up any new policy rule or to amend existing policy rule. This level of flexibility and self-sufficiency are needed today in order to be very reactive to the market and save time when banks want to push a new eligibility rule.

Moreover, we automatically identify fragile customers and push an early warning to the banks to make sure that they take appropriate actions ahead of time.

All these features that I'm talking about are integrated within our unique platform, which is called ACP - Axe Credit Portal, which is dedicated to automate 100% of credit processes across the bank business segments (Retail, Commercial Lending, SME, Corporate). All our modules offer more specific features and administration tools to address those COVID-19 challenges such as Limit and collateral management, collection and recovery, BPM designer, BI…

Financial IT: What is upcoming milestone news you have at axefinance that you can share with our readers?

DB: Being a product-driven company allows us to be always ahead of time and market in terms of innovation. Innovation is one of the major pillars of our company's governance. When we are talking about future, AI is the most appropriate tool to make credit risk predictions, and decisions. Lending, credit risk and policy rules are based on the history of the bank. What is history, if not one big data? In order to benefit from big data like that, we need proper, solid, robust algorithms to predict the future. The document recognition and automation of the eligibility rules, automatic routing of the processes are not based on rules, as it has been for the last decades, but on machine learning capabilities and machine learning algorithms. As a bank, having interactions with its customers through social media requires the whole digital inclusion of the customer. Digital inclusion cannot be achieved without embedding artificial intelligence in algorithms, calculators and platform. This is exactly what we have started doing a few years back already. We are heading in that direction. We are already offering substantial features to our very reputable customers. This is what we are working on at axefinance.

Dhafer Berrachid is the founder and CEO of axefinance. Since 2004, he supported a culture of specialization, expertise, and innovation within the company. With more than 24 years of extensive experience in the financial technology, he enabled axefinance teams to develop axefinance flagship solution ACP, and to reach a leading position in the lending digitalization market with a reputable global footprint across EMEA and Pacific Asia. Dhafer is graduated from Supelec France.

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