The team at Nimo has spent numerous years working on setting up digital lending platforms for both large and small financial institutions, and we’ve seen it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve seen platforms that went wrong, and ones that were axed before they ever got off the ground. We’ve also seen what works, and the instances where it was not only smoothly integrated, but scaled up as the business grew. Let’s talk about three ways to build a lending platform, the benefits and pitfalls associated with each type.
For a simple analogy, it’s like different ways to build a bike with the objective to get going faster.
The “Add-On” – platform versions
Let’s say you have a bike and buy training wheels. This is the equivalent of purchasing an “Add-On” which is a marketplace within a platform that is still dependent on the main platform. Examples of this you might see from Salesforce or Oracle with a marketplace or ‘special version’ solution.
Why choose an “Add-On”
Some companies may not know where to start, or someone within the company is familiar with a platform that does ‘what we want to do’ or has heard of the platform achieving the desired affect somewhere else by ‘adding a module’. This can be attractive as the underlying platform is built, albeit for another purpose, but with a bit of imagination could be manipulated to do the required tasks.
Not purpose built
That platform may give you standard functionality that you didn’t previously have, but that add-on may not serve the exact purpose that you are hoping to use it for. So, while the add-on or platform version may allow you to create a standard form and collect data, it may not allow you to review all the data in ways that make your business more efficient, unless you change your processes to fit it. You usually also have to pay for the “Add-On” licences on top of the platform costs.
Add-ons or platform versions will give you an initial digital uplift, and most cloud-based software will not restrict you with versions. But it may not be a solution that will work forever, especially for new compliance regulations and pressures with increasing volumes exposing inefficiencies over the long term that you may have to build yourself. Add-ons are an accessory to the main system you are using, developers may not be continually working on making them better and more efficient along with the rest of the platform. This can result in an outdated solution in a short time, lowering your return on investment over the mid-term.
From our experience, creating a lending platform as an add-on to existing systems can get you up and running quickly, however they can be a short-sighted solution with a lot of limitations.
The “DIY” – workflow builder
Workflow builder platform providers can be seen as the ideal solution. It’s like looking at a bike catalogue and imagining yourself cruising on your new bike with everything the way you dreamed it would be. Beyond the dream is the practicality that like the bike, the parts of your new platform have to be assembled from a thousand pieces and you have to put it together right the first time. You get the base software, and you have to build all the rules, workflows and integrations yourself.
Why choose “DIY”
It’s empowering to be given a blank canvas and to build a bespoke platform with which you can transform your business, and reimagine and transform all of your manual forms into beautiful digital workflows and integrations. Workflow form builders provide all the ‘parts’ to be able to assemble your own team, make your own decisions and connect the services the way that you want to connect them in the way you had imagined.
What usually happens
The workflow builder is the ideal dream solution when you push all of the complications of the real word aside. It’s true that some of these projects come through with the goods, but 90% of projects the Nimo leadership team were involved in never saw the light of day, with decision makers ultimately not able to agree on key elements, and development teams struggling to deliver so many integrations blowing cost and time budgets.
Why this occurs – What? Developers are not finance specialists?
Only upon starting this journey that you’ve committed to do you realise you’re building your platform from scratch with just your research of how a lending platform should operate both internally and externally. You may have employed a development team or a developer to build these workflows for your business, and while that may seem alright, a development team makes a thousand small decisions when building a platform and if they have no industry guidance, their understanding of what they’re building can leave you with loose ends and gaps to fill. Setting up a platform this way is also costly time-wise for your own employees who have to dedicate their time as subject matter experts to explain processes to developers and how your business operates.
There have been many projects we’ve seen start this way and blow out the budget or never get off the ground before the plug is pulled. A few weeks can turn into months or years quite easily without building anything that represents value to the business.
High risk + high expense
From our experience, this method can create a lending platform that is 100% tailored to your requirements, however it also has the highest risk of being extremely expensive or failing. On top of that, there’s no guarantee of how smooth a system that’s newly built will integrate into an existing financial institution and its working processes, as most new systems require a lot of refinement especially during the early phases. It’s basically an unproven concept, and your business is the test subject.
“Out-of-the-box” – purpose-built lending platform
A purpose-built platform for financial services is like buying a bike that’s designed specifically for the riding that you want to do, with no assembly required. An out-of-the-box platform is standalone and is built to connect and operate with existing Core Banking and CRM systems. All the workflow pipelines are already refined and programmed into the platform, taking into consideration compliance standards and licence requirements for the Australian financial sector.
Nimo is an “out-of-the-box” platform, built especially for financial services and automates the origination and servicing of loans and other financial service products.
‘Out-of-the-box’ doesn’t mean changes and improvements can’t be made. A cloud based platform without version constraints such as Nimo continually works on enhancing the user experience for both business and customers. As an example, ongoing discussions with lenders who utilise Nimo’s platform and regulators provide insights on platform development that further enhances capabilities and user experience. Through such feedback various features are developed, for example configurable templates where a lender can modify the texts in sections of platform with their own language to ‘talk’ to staff and customers in their own language, or features assisting lenders leveraging CDR. Having available features such as these that are proven through actual use, reduce your test and learn cycles, lead to complete submissions, and convert leads to new customers.
Many banks and lenders delay their digital transformation because they have to pull people out of their day jobs to set it up, and things take a long time. A digital transformation with a purpose built platform is less of a burden on staff. It means that lenders can digitalise their processes in less time, energy and cost, with as little disruption to business as usual.
Digital lending transformation
There’s not always a clear insight into what’s involved in digital transformation, and too many times lenders have travelled too far down the path to turn back to know that they could have done things easier. Benefitting from Nimo’s wealth of experience, we’ve shed some light on the three types of digital platforms, and what they involve. We hope these insights provide you with the right questions to ask about your journey ahead.