Three former employees of the UK’s second largest credit reference agency Callcredit have left the firm to form FinTech company Hello Soda in a bid to revolutionise the financial services sector.
Hello Soda has been attracting interest from some of the world’s biggest alternative lenders following their development of a platform that helps reduce fraud and improve responsible lending and borrowing.
The platform named PROFILE has launched to take advantage of the fact that traditional credit rating models are based on historical financial performance, and do not take into account a person’s ‘true’ circumstance - eg if an applicant has recently taken a promotion in work.
Plugging a gap in the industry, the software enables lenders to take into account important unstructured data (like social media) signals when assessing the creditworthiness of loan applications by injecting an element of human behavior into a typical computer-led lending application process. Consumers also benefit by getting quicker decisions that are more accurately aligned to their life.
The key hires bringing the platform to market include: Co-founder of Hello Soda, James Blake, who previously headed up the global sales division at Callcredit as well as Experian and oversaw a 64% growth trend during his last five years. He takes up the role of CEO.
Will Ellis joins from Callcredit as commercial director bringing deep knowledge in credit risk scores and the alternative finance industry from working with some of the largest financial services companies and retailers in the world.
And Ben Allott has been appointed to the position of operations and client services director having previously been key account director for Callcredit in charge of clients including Santander, RBS, Tesco, Lloyds Bank and Think Finance.
Also taking a seat in the management team is co-founder and marketing director Paul Shepherd who founded a Top 10 UK social and mobile technology agency with clients including Nike, Google, Twitter, Lloyds Banking Group and the BBC. His extensive knowledge of the social data and tech start up space completes the key hires that are behind Hello Soda’s launch.
The company has also recruited leading data-scientists and engineers from the likes of Skype, General Electric and top UK universities in the field of psycholinguistics, natural language processing (NLP) and unstructured data analysis. It is also backed by European investors.
Commenting on the company launch, CEO Blake said: “That human element, especially in lending, disappeared before the the financial crash in 2008 when the world changed, leaving many people unable to access credit.
“With the exponential growth in online data, it makes sense to take a ‘snapshot’ of a person’s real life and cross reference that with traditional metrics to further verify an individual’s application in a way that benefits the customer and lending provider”.
This ‘snapshot’ Blake speaks of comprises thousands of pieces of online data, such as the use of only capital letters when filling out forms, or the amount of time a person spends reading terms and conditions, these are all collated to deliver a ‘Soda Score’ that forecasts trustworthiness, affordability and consumer intent. Real life benefits include borrowers not becoming overstretched, and lenders not being duped by fraudulent applications.
Blake added: “Hello Soda is about resetting parity through data by empowering consumers to use that data to help our clients know them better. We’re already seeing clients and consumers benefitting”.