Spotcap, a European fintech that lends to small businesses online, is launching in the UK.
The Berlin-headquartered company, which first launched in Spain, opened to British businesses on Thursday, 5 weeks after opening a London office.
The expansion has been planned for at least a year and a half, according to UK MD Niels Turfboer, and Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union did not deter the company.
Turfboer told Business Insider: “Initially we were all shocked. I’ve been living in London for some years and obviously it came as a surprise, the yes vote.”
“Post-Brexit, obviously it creates uncertainty but also with that uncertainty there are opportunities and I see increased opportunity for the alternative finance sector in the UK.
“Historically a period of uncertainty will lead to more restricted activity from the more traditional finance companies like the High Street banks. That has its effect mostly on the SMEs [small and medium enterprises] as they’re considered to be more risky. I definitely think it’s going to be a turbulent and challenging time but alternative finance will have more influence in the coming years, in my opinion.”
He adds: “Our view is that a lot needs to happen in the world [for London] to lose its position, which is basically number one in the world after Silicon Valley [for fintech].”
Spotcap offers working capital lines of credit of up to £250,000 to small and medium-sized businesses online. Turfboer says: “It’s a bit of a hybrid. Each withdrawal actually transforms into a loan, an annuity loan, and that is repayable in anywhere between 6 to 15 months. It is on balance sheet, we’re not a peer-to-peer platform.”
Spotcap has lent over £45 million since launch in 2014. It currently operates across Spain, the Netherlands, and Australia. Turfboer says: “The potential is huge [in the UK]. I would say for the next several years we would like to serve several 1,000 SMEs and anywhere between £50 million and £100 million of loans.”
The company was incubated — basically created — by Rocket Internet, a renown German investment company that creates tech startups. It is often accused of being a “clone factory,” because Rocket typically takes a business model that has worked well in one country and replicates it for a market that doesn’t yet have the service.
Turfboer says Spotcap does not fall into this category. He says: “We’re definitely not a clone of anybody. What I’m really proud of is we really follow our own model and try to get the best product out there rather than looking at how somebody else has done it out there in the past.
“We were incubated by Rocket which has allowed us to enjoy a lot of benefits in our early stages. We’ve been operating independently since March 2015. Rocket is one of our investors and obviously we’re happy to have them but we have several [investors].”
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