At a glance
Project year
Bank type
Cloud partner
Google Cloud Platform
Southeast Asia

Nikel’s mission is to help banks in Southeast Asia close the small business credit gap. They offer banks and other companies a digital lending solution covering everything from loan origination to underwriting to collections. 

Small businesses are moving online. They need bespoke loan products to meet their specific needs. To offer these products online, many parties need to work together. It’s not just a bank lending directly to a borrower anymore. Instead, it’s an ecosystem that includes e-commerce, marketplaces, service providers and others. Nikel’s solution brings these parties together.

Nikel needed a modern core platform to streamline the entire lending journey, from borrower onboarding, loan requests to disbursement and repayment. With a modern core at the foundation, Nikel would migrate existing systems, design new products, and deploy them to the market at an accelerated speed.

The solution

Nikel selected Thought Machine’s Vault Core as their new core system and built their own embedded lending platform with targeted credit products. Since starting their product development journey with Vault Core, Nikel has built four new advanced products – ranging from Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) to Shariah-compliant offerings. These products are expertly designed to streamline SME lending, making it more efficient and smarter.

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Our Story

Founded in 2018, Nikel (rebranded from Impact Credit Solutions) is a fintech company that unlocks credit for millions in Southeast Asia by offering small businesses access to loans through their digitally embedded lending platform.

These loans are helping businesses stay afloat. Take a food retailer that needs a loan to meet the bulk of customer orders on an e-commerce site. Nikel connects the business owner with the lender. The lender offers a loan to the business owner to finance its working capital needs to meet customer demand. The borrower journey is streamlined within the existing customer journey on the e-commerce site and/or the licensed lender’s platform integrated with Nikel’s digital loan management platform.

To expand their service, Nikel needed to build more flexibility, scale and configurability into the platform and, at the same time, develop their service with new products.

Thought Machine’s core banking platform, Vault Core, running on microservices, would give Nikel the flexibility to migrate existing services and offer new services as modules – all of which would be managed from one single platform.

Nikel adopted Vault Core and went live with their first product within 90 days before launching the next product with minimal support needed from Thought Machine.

Benefiting from the agility and flexibility baked into Vault Core’s cloud-native architecture, Nikel has reduced the time-to-market by half with each product launch.

Building Shariah-compliant products quickly

After deploying Vault Core in less than three months, Nikel wanted to build, test and deploy their own product line. With Vault Core, Nikel has been able to design complex products and features — and reduce their time-to-market by half each time. For example, Nikel wanted to build a lending product specifically for the Islamic community. Leveraging Thought Machine’s smart contract capabilities, Nikel designed a Sharia-compliant end-to-end lending product that increases disbursement speed and gives investors real-time transparency on their loan book.

Real-time access to data

The credit decision-making process for banks is typically a cumbersome procedure, often extending over two to three weeks. When a loan request is made, banks must painstakingly evaluate the associated risk, a time-intensive task when relying on outdated technology. Vault Core is a unified platform that allows Nikel to centralise, manage and analyse data in real time from a single source of truth.

The platform is highly automated and always-on, ensuring full visibility of consumers’ economic behaviour and borrowing history. Credit data is analysed within milliseconds by leveraging data analytic capabilities and machine learning in the cloud.

Digitising KYC, driving down the costs

Lenders in Indonesia typically check multiple identification documents to comply with local Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations.

Conducting this verification process in person during the COVID-19 pandemic was nearly impossible. Therefore, Nikel needed to digitise the entire process using e-signatures and e-contracts.

With Vault Core, Nikel delivered an all-new e-signature product — ensuring SMEs could access loans and withstand the harsh conditions of the pandemic. Meanwhile, costs were reduced, and customers could enjoy higher levels of convenience and speed.

Moonshot ambition

The SME lending industry is in transition.

The industry, and thus customers, are benefiting from the disruptive influence of alternative financing providers and the gig economy.

Leveraging the emerging digital economy in the Southeast Asia region, where sellers can reach a wider customer base with shorter product cycles, Nikel provides technology-enabled lending to power inclusive growth and drive financial inclusion for all.

Since partnering with Thought Machine, Nikel has become almost self-sufficient with Vault Core. They now effortlessly run the platform, introduce new products to the market, and collaborate with various lenders and originators to direct millions in funding toward underserved small businesses in Indonesia.

The synergy of Vault Core’s advanced technology and Nikel’s incredible ambition will create a more inclusive lending ecosystem, significantly favouring small businesses across the region.  

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