Both ventures will mirror ThinCats’ UK business model, employing a network of finance professionals, or ‘sponsors’, to assess the borrower’s lending requirements before helping to design the appropriate funding package. The approach is a step away from the ‘computer says no’ credit scoring adopted by most other peer to peer platforms, and means lenders are only presented with businesses that have a viable lending request.
ThinCats Poland and ThinCats Australia will use their own local sponsors to find suitable secured loan opportunities, while ThinCats will supply the software, training and support to operate the platform on which the loans are auctioned. Emulating the UK business, the new initiatives will seek to be cash positive as quickly as possible, and will be seeking a modest amount of seed equity capital from suitably qualified investors who are also prepared to lend on the new platforms.
Already, 6% of the funds on the ThinCats platform are from overseas lenders eager to take advantage of the 9% average interest rate, and as the international network grows lenders are looking outwards as well, keen to diversify their portfolio across multiple countries.
Poland has the largest economy in Central Europe, with a population of about 38.2 million, and a Gross National Income per capita of $13,080, and the Australian economy has grown by 3.5% in the last year.
Kevin Caley, founder and managing director of ThinCats, said: “We know that businesses in the UK and abroad are struggling to find funding to support their growth ambitions, and that peer to peer is revolutionising the way this is obtained, but a detailed understanding of local market conditions is essential to success. For this reason we’re pleased to have found partners who have a deep understanding of their local markets and share in our business philosophy of being the opposite of ‘fat-cat’ bankers. I look forward to building up a lending network on both new horizons.
“We have often been asked by business angel investors if there is an opportunity to buy shares in ThinCats so for those who missed out when ThinCats started four years ago, this could be an interesting opportunity to share in the continuing growth of the peer to peer sector.
“For lenders, now used to earning interest of around 9% mark throughout this period of record low interest rates, this expansion offers exciting new opportunities to diversify portfolios, and explore new businesses.”