The Silicon Review
Western Circle Ltd, trading as Cashfloat.co.uk is a technology & data-oriented lending company founded in 2015. Authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the company develops and integrates technologies to enable affordable loans online. With an instant decision and same day payout – even for bad credit, Cashfloat offers loans of up to £2000.
When the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) took over consumer credit regulation in the UK, many bad lending companies got shut down and many moved from being profitable to losing a lot of money. By 2015, the unsecured credit market in the UK was on the verge of extinction. The newly introduced interest cap and other limitations from the FCA forced lenders to develop new business models, invest in new technologies and stop making easy profits by taking advantage of people in financial distress. This was a challenge most lenders failed to overcome. But surprisingly enough, the consumer demand for unsecured credit in the UK kept growing. The market was in a very interesting position.
After spending years as a cybercrime prevention expert, Ofer Valencio Akerman wanted to develop a safer way for people in the UK to obtain credit online. And when he saw that despite the high demand for unsecured credit, only a minimal number of lenders were still funding loans, he was sure that the market is now ready for something new that will change the way things are done.
With a mission to provide better credit for people in the UK that adheres to the new FCA regulations, Mr. Akerman decided to give it a chance and that’s when Cashfloat was born, and till date, its mission statement remains the same.
Interview Snippet with Co-founder & Chief Strategist, Ofer Valencio Akerman:
Q.What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
As a company, we must be profitable, but we wanted to make a profit by doing good things. We wanted customers to understand our product, we wanted transparency, and we wanted to treat everybody fairly. So, we put together a business plan that became a blueprint in the Market. We got our FCA authorization and thus, approval for our plan. And to come up with a new business model that aligns the interests between the company profitability, the regulators, and the consumers was one of the biggest challenges.
We invested a lot of time understanding the terrible behavior of existing lenders, especially how they mistreated customers and took advantage of them. We analyzed their ways of getting customers to take a loan and keeping them in a debt spiral to maximize profits. We learned all their aggressive collection techniques and how they wrongly assessed credit applications. We put together a long list of bad conducts, and we developed a powerful safeguard in our model to avoid and prevent any of these tactics.
Today, Cashfloat.co.uk is the UK’s favorite lender. People use our product because they love it, because it helps them to solve a short-term problem and because they know we will always be there to help them.
Q.A company’s behavior is as important as its economic performance or the quality of its products’. How do you interpret this saying?
I’ve seen a lot of companies and many people that behave badly and still make easy millions. In fact, the regulators are often always a few steps behind. There are many companies that are making a lot of money and are not 100% compliant. If you don’t care about your brand and reputation, it’s much easier to make money.
I love money, but I am not willing to compromise my personal or business integrity for quick wins. We as a company have proved again and again that we can make a lot of profits while still treating customers fairly, respecting people, and establishing an honest corporate attitude.
Q.Is your company a ‘leader’ or a ‘follower’? Do you formulate your own core values?
We have changed the market in the UK; we have raised customer expectations and have started the transition of payday loans from being a last-option product into a well-defined credit instrument that can compete with bank overdrafts, credit cards, and more.
We show everybody, especially the huge lenders that operate in the UK and the USA that profits can be made while still treating customers fairly and behaving correctly.
Q.Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your clients?
We developed and maintain trust by doing our very best at every single point of engagement. In our business, we often see the most of financial numbers and algorithmically generated risk factors. However, when we already have the opportunity to engage with the customer, we strive to make it a positive experience. We demonstrate excellence in our profession, so they know they can trust us.
The Future Vision
Being one of the leading firms in the UK, Cashfloat is now in the process of expanding its operations to the USA & Spain. The company believes that in two years, it will definitely have a strong foothold in the markets.
Cashfloat is going to challenge the biggest lenders in America with its disruptive technologies and voluntary incorporation of stronger consumer safeguards and it is all set to go above and beyond the regulators’ requirements to help and protect its customers.
The Man behind the Operation
Ofer Valencio Akerman, Co-founder & Chief Strategist:
Mr. Akerman has a strong focus on business profitability, data protection, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. He helps companies operating in ultra-competitive markets to discover and realize hidden business potential.
Mr. Akerman spent over 15 years as a cyber-crime prevention expert in the USA, Israel, Latin America and Japan. He has also authored the book ‘Market Domination Strategy’. Mr. Akerman holds a BA in Finance and a Master’s degree in Military Strategies and Diplomacy.
“We went far beyond standard FCA requirements and built a whole new credit product from scratch. We redefined the market.”