Irish-led fintech uses online platform to extend financing to local SMEs

A newly built “digital financing company” led by Irish executives is encouraging local SMEs to avail of loans that can be processed in a single day and without leaving their workplaces or homes.

Patrick Lynch, president and CEO of First Circle

Patrick Lynch, president and CEO of First Circle

In a small press briefing on Wednesday, Nov. 16, First Circle said it is able to process loan applications faster than other lending firms because it uses a pure online system that has almost no human intervention.

From the usual 14 hours on average to complete a manual application in traditional institutions, First Circle said it takes only 2-3 minutes to transact through the company’s proprietary-built system.

“Building a wonderful technology stack has been geared towards improving availability of finance to small businesses,” said Tony Ennis, chief technology officer of First Circle.

So far, First Circle said it has a 95-percent return rate for its customers and loan offers returned in under 24 hours for approved applicants.

“We realized what we needed to do in order to empower small businesses was to reduce the amount of time it takes to open an account with us and also reduce the time it takes for them to avail of finance,” Patrick Lynch, president and CEO of First Circle.

“The full end-to-end solution from the moment a consumer engages with us is done online. There is no paper exchanged. This also allows us to have great control in the customer journey,” Lynch reiterates.

The lending firm said SMEs contribute about 99 percent of economic growth in the Philippines yet access to finance still remains to be the biggest hurdle for them.

Executives said one of its partners in the country is online retailer Lazada. Merchants selling through Lazada usually get their loans from First Circle. Lazada then pays the loans directly to First Circle once the sales of the merchants are finalized.

Catering to varied industries online, the financial technology firm said it provides a solution-suite based on various business needs. However, those availing of the loans should be in existence for at least two years.

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