Nikel’s mission is a bold one: close the SME financing gap in the Southeast Asian region.
This can only be achieved by unlocking local deposits and channelling it back into the hands of small businesses excluded from full financial services.
What they were attempting required a modern core platform that could streamline the entire lending journey, from borrower on boarding, loan request 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.
Nikel selected Thought Machine’s Vault Core as their new core system, and built their own version of embedded lending platform with targeted credit products.
Since starting their product development journey with Vault Core, Nikel has built four new sophisticated products – ranging from Buy Now Pay Later to Shariah-compliant loan products – all of which are specifically designed to make SME lending easier, faster and smarter.
Founded in 2018,
Nikel (rebranded from Impact Credit Solutions) is a fintech company that unlocks credit for millions in South East Asia by offering small businesses access to loans through their digital 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 who can offer a loan 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 on the licensed-lender’s platform that is 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 been able to reduce 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 provides investors real-time transparency on their loan book.
Real-time access to data
The credit decision-making process for banks is cumbersome, usually taking two to three weeks. When a loan request is made, banks analyse the data to consider the risk – which is a time-consuming process when operating with legacy technology. Vault Core is a coherent platform which allows Nikel to centralise, manage and analyse data real-time from a single source of truth.
The platform is highly-automated, always-on which ensures full visibility of consumers’ economic behaviour and borrowing history.
Leveraging data analytics and machine learning in the cloud, credit data is analysed in milliseconds.
Digitising KYC, driving down the costs
Lenders in Indonesia typically check multiple identification documents to comply with local Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations.
To conduct this verification process in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic was near impossible — and so, Nikel needed to digitise the entire process through e-signatures and e-contracts.
With Vault Core, Nikel was able to deliver 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.
The SME lending industry is in transition.
The industry, and thus customers, are benefiting from the disruptive influence of alternative financing providers and gig-economy.
Leveraging the emerging digital economy in the SEA region, where sellers are able to reach a wider customer base with shorter product cycles, 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 – effortlessly running the platform and launching new products to the market, working with a range of lenders and originators to channel millions in funding to the underserved small businesses in Indonesia.
The synergy of Vault Core’s advanced technology and Nikel’s incredible ambition will bring about a more inclusive lending ecosystem that disproportionately benefits the small businesses across the region.