Sometimes my dreams are vivid and other times I barely remember them. One night, I dreamt I was part of some weird new reality television show, a cross between ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and the ‘The Block’. There were 4 teams: Banjo, 2 major trading banks and 1 regional bank. We were all called into a warehouse and given the brief of building ‘a new financial services operating platform to fund the growth financing needs of small business in Australia’.
Each team would compete over an 18-month ‘design build and test’ period with a hand-selected team of 10 experts from the banking, technology, digital marketing, legal and payment systems industries. And each team would provide their time on the basis of love, passion and self-belief.
I thought at the time “good luck getting that show to work”.
I cannot really remember whether it was Scott Cam or Pete Evans providing the brief (I guess that depends on whether your focus is building it right or having it look good) but the instructions were clear. ‘The operating platform must be available anytime, anywhere on mobile, tablet or PC’.
Scott said “Over 60% of mobile banking users rate speed, time saving and ‘I can do it anywhere’ as the 3 most important factors. Your customers are busy business owners that do not have the time to visit a branch, complete paperwork and they make money by being responsive in the market place: so they need you to understand their business and be responsive.”
And then the competition became a little harder.
The platform must represent a convergence of digital data technology and the customer experience. That means, it is built in the context of the business owner’s life; an offering that makes life easier, without friction and easily amalgamated into the business day.
Down to the Wire
My dream conveniently skipped the ensuing 18 months of sacrifice, hard work, innovation, creativity and anxiety and fast-forwarded to the results. I remember the other competitors dropping out of the competition or being voted off after some token efforts and bursts of activity.
At Banjo, it didn’t matter that the competition had dropped away. We had a brief and we were on a mission! Pete and Scott sat back and watched, scratching their heads and wondering if it really could be done. I overheard them talking:
Pete: ”These guys are so determined! It’s watching like a dog with a bone. Mmmm, bone broth….”
Cam replied: “ Build it once, build it right mate!”
During that show:
- We built a full online end to end operating system from scratch;
- We obtained a financial services licence so we could be independent of banks and holds clients funds without restrictions;
- We took the humble log in and used LinkedIn or Google as the default login;
- We used the ‘selfie’ of the front and back the drivers licence to identify the applicant in real time;
- We built an API layer to connect to third parties like Xero, MYOB, Yodlee, and Dunn & Bradstreet so we could understand the financial position of the company, again in real time;
- Designed 20 simple questions answered by moving sliders or selecting drop down boxes to save time;
- We developed graphical representations of our clients financial and working capital metrics benchmarked against industry standards to share with them, so they could understand their business more;
- We implemented an electronic document preparation, execution and storage capability to save the client paperwork;
- We designed a complete application process that takes less than 10 minutes, with approval in hours;
- We ensured funds would be deposited in as less as one business day;
- We ensured no mail with SMS and email notifications for approval notices, drawdown advices and repayment reminders for simplicity.
- Designed an unsecured 6 month working capital facility with a competitive interest rate, and no early exit fees; and
- Once an approved member of Banjo, ensured the customer could access funding anytime.
Then I woke up. There was no reality television show, and Scott Cam and Pete Evans had disappeared. But there was a real business with a focus and passion for small business at its core.
Banjo introduces a new online marketplace lending platform built by Australian banking experts who simply thought there must be a better way to provide unsecured loans to SMEs. We want to make it easy so business owners can get on with what they do best!
Imagine being able to just get on with the business of running your business.
Well that’s the new reality.
Sounds just brilliant to me.