Introducing OpenLending: our powerful partnership platform

Sharif Mohamed is head of business development for partnerships at iwoca. Here, he explains what OpenLending is and why we’re so excited about it.

18 March 2020

The first thing to answer when it comes to OpenLending is the most common question about it: ‘is this related to Open Banking?’

In short, no. OpenLending is actually an iwoca term for the lending integrations we build with a host of partners, such as Monese, Fluidly and Xero, that enable them to offer finance to their own SME customers – all from within their own platform – powered and backed by iwoca.

So what is OpenLending?

OpenLending bundles up a host of benefits and innovations that make us one of Europe’s leading lenders when it comes to partnerships. A key benefit of OpenLending is the flexibility of our API and how this lets partners build the ideal journey and lending product for their customers.

Imagine you own a small business and discover through your cash flow forecasting software that you’re going to have a sudden dip in three week’s time you’ll struggle to cover. If your software provider is partnered with iwoca OpenLending then at the exact moment you see a gap appear, you could be presented with the option to access a flexible credit product to enable you to bridge the gap quickly and cost efficiently.

Great, right? But it doesn’t stop there. OpenLending means we can take it a step further.

Within a few clicks you could apply for that credit, get your approval decision and be ready to access the funds the minute you need them – all without ever leaving your cash flow software. No need for cumbersome application forms, or being directed to an external website.

Behind the scenes your software provider has already worked with iwoca to decide the best product structure and pricing to meet their customers’ needs. We’ll also have made sure that your data can be shared with iwoca safely, securely and with your permission, to save you having to do it all yourself.

Meet Sharif

I’ve been part of iwoca for more than four years and today work with partners on developing lending integrations for their platforms. This means working with a range of teams, from the very first conversation to the implementation or launch of a partnership.

My role means I get to work with some amazing companies and help them discover, create and launch powerful integrated finance products for their business customers.

Our team then looks after partners post-launch, helping them with customer queries, analysis and ultimately ensuring partners and their customers get the best possible experience through OpenLending.

Where did all of this start?

iwoca has been integrating with partners for years now. Our most publicised version of this has been a full white label solution with the digital bank Tide.

However, the OpenLending project came about at the start of 2019 when we began to realise there was so much left to do in the realm of business finance when you compare it to consumer lending, where seamless integrations and customisable products are commonplace. Why couldn’t business owners have the same access to finance?

We were already able to generate auto-decisions, collect data through our API and integrate to a deep level with partners, but we wanted to make sure we could be fluid enough to help our partners achieve exactly what they wanted. At the same time customers have become more financially savvy with more products becoming available to them. This meant a ‘one-product-fits-all’ approach, while still useful wasn’t ideal.

So, we did what we do best and worked tirelessly to create the backend tech and processes needed to ensure we could provide the best product and journey for partners and their customers.

Has it been easy?

We are lucky in that we’ve been building integrations for years so have built up extensive knowledge on how (and how not) to do things.

Creating the tech is the most complicated part. Because we are the lender behind the finance with an OpenLending partnership, every loan needs to feed through our own systems. Adding customisable features such as unique pricing or term-lengths makes that even trickier.

Overall, thanks to our incredibly capable inhouse tech and product teams, and our partners and customers giving us all the feedback we’ve needed over the years, we’ve cleared most of the hurdles.

The future of OpenLending

In the long term we hope that we can assist more and more partners in helping their customers access the finance they need through OpenLending.

We want to be the first name in people's minds when they want to create a finance product for their customer base. OpenLending at scale will mean partners can work with iwoca to analyse their customers, find the perfect product for their needs, then create a completely seamless way for those customers to access that finance all in one place.

For customers it means they will be able to access finance for their business as and when they need it, whether that be through their online banking, accountancy platforms or trusted accountants and brokers.

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Sharif Mohamed is head of business development for partnerships at iwoca. He's been at iwoca for more than four years and works with partners on developing lending integrations for their platforms – from the very first conversation to the launch of a project.

Article updated on: 19 March 2020

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