(Wall Street Journal) BankFacil aims to make getting a consumer loan in Brazil inexpensive and easy and has raised venture backing to do it.
The online lending startup has built an underwriting platform targeting what founder and Chief Executive Sergio Furio believes is a massive and untapped opportunity: extending personal loans to Brazilians who own homes and cars but aren’t using them as collateral.
This group has a collective debt of R$178.7B ($52.2B USD) across credit card financing, personal loans and overdraft fees and is paying an annual interest rate of 178.8%, according to a report this month by Brazil’s Central Bank. BankFacil investors believe the three-year-old startup can do a better job of serving those customers.
“Some banks have that (secured loan) offering on file but aren’t pursuing it aggressively or making it easy for the consumer,” said Anderson Thees, a partner at Redpoint eventures, which invested roughly $3 million alongside Accion’s Frontier Investments Group. “The perceived level of risk in Brazil today is much higher than it actually is, because banks aren’t using collateral.”
A Spanish-born banking executive, Mr. Furio was working at Boston Consulting Group in New York, where he met his Brazilian girlfriend, now wife, and was inspired to launch the company. After hearing her describe the complicated and time-consuming process consumers must complete to get a bank loan, he began researching the topic.
He said he found that consumers on average pay 8 to 9 times the interest amount they should be on loans because the loans aren’t secured even in cases when the consumers have assets.
Mr. Furio says that if he can originate a large volume of loans and offer them at annual interest rates between 20% and 30%, BankFacil will win these consumers and grow quickly.
“We will do efficiently what banks do inefficiently or they don’t do at all,” Mr. Furio said.
Although LendingClub, Kabbage, OnDeck, Wonga, Prosper and others are also seeking to enter the category with similar technology, so far none have launched operations in Brazil.
Apart from Lendico, a Rocket Internet peer-to-peer lending startup, which launch earlier this month in Brazil, BankFacil’s competition is mainly with the banks.