Non-bank lender Homeloans Limited and fintech start-up Athena Home Loans, which was founded by former NAB executives Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey, have announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership.
As part of the arrangement, Homeloans will license part of Athena’s digital technology platform and provide the fintech with funding support as well as $2 million in equity investment, which increases Athena’s total capital raise to $20 million.
In May, Athena announced that it had closed a series A raise of $15 million with investment backing from Macquarie Bank, Square Peg Capital, Apex Capital and Rice Warner.
Speaking of the development, co-founder and CEO of Athena Home Loans Nathan Walsh told Mortgage Business that the fintech’s partnership with Homeloans would help accelerate its entry into the home loan market.
“Innovative collaboration between fintechs and forward-thinking established financial services players can be an important accelerator of launch strategy,” the CEO said.
“Our strategic partnership with Homeloans builds on our existing collaboration with investment backers including Macquarie, Rice Warner and Square Peg Capital.
“We have benefitted strongly from the expertise and support our group of partners have given us, so we are delighted to add Homeloans to our partnership stable, too.”
Mr Walsh also noted that Athena’s partnership with Homeloans would help it achieve its significant financial targets in a market that is “ripe for change”.
“We are targeting $1 billion of home loans in the first 12 months from launch in early 2019. The home loan market is ripe for change. Trust in the big banks has eroded and home owners want better value,” Mr Walsh added.
“We now are backed by the funding partnerships for strong growth.
“Their funding support, together with our super fund partners, enables accelerated growth in our lending book and creates the opportunity for Athena to take a bigger slice of the $1.7 trillion home loan market.”
Likewise, joint-CEO of Homeloans Scott McWilliam told Mortgage Business that the lender’s partnership with Athena “makes a lot of sense”, claiming that both parties have a shared ambition of improving customer service through digital transformation.
Mr McWilliam added: “We are effectively leveraging off each other’s core competencies and strengths to accelerate on our separate business strategies.
“This partnership allows us to focus our attention on other key drivers which will further contribute to fulfilling our vision of being a customer-obsessed leading non-bank lender.”
Mr McWilliam also noted that “customer expectations are moving faster than what a number of product providers are able to deliver in the market”, stating that its partnership with Athena would enable the non-bank to further develop its digital offering.
“This is one part of our overall digital transformation program, but an important one. Post the merger [of Homeloans and RESIMAC], we have adopted a customer-centric attitude across all areas of our business,” the joint-CEO continued.
“The opportunity for us is building out on a platform that allows for greater flexibility and greater control by the consumer.”
Mr McWilliam concluded: “An important part of our strategy is putting technology in the hands of the consumer — leading to a better overall experience.
“It’s about moving away from being a product provider and becoming a business partner to our customers.”