An online lender backed by one of Australia’s largest non-banks has revealed plans to ramp up its third-party distribution in 2016.
Moula Money is a small business lender that opened its doors in 2013. The company can lend up to $100,000, but typically deals with small business loan sizes of $40,000 to $50,000.
Last year, non-bank lender Liberty Financial invested $30 million in the business through a debt and equity funding deal. Moula also have a strategic partnership with accounting software giant Xero.
“By virtue of our strategic partnership with Xero and by virtue of being partly owned by Liberty, they are obviously really important channels for us,” Moula Money, co-founder Aris Allegos, told MyBusiness, sister publication of Mortgage Business.
“The Xero channel almost extends itself to the accounting channel by virtue of the fact that a lot of accountants use Xero. It's safe to say that referrals from accountants right now would be sitting at around 25 to 30 per cent of all of our referrers.”
The company is also seeing business coming through the broker channel via its relationship with Liberty.
“Keep in mind Liberty have their own adviser network, they are interfaced with a lot of the traditional broker aggregators, so we see a good component come through there,” Mr Allegos said.
While its direct channel continues to grow as more SMEs become familiar with the Moula brand, Mr Allegos said he has a firm eye on growing the business through mortgage brokers.
“It's definitely part of the business that we're only just starting to open up – traditionally our main channel has been the accounting channel. But since we took the Liberty investment, Liberty has obviously built their business predominantly on those broker channels, so we are just leveraging a lot of that to get up the exposure we need into that space as well,” he said, adding, “It's a big focus for the next couple of quarters.”
Online lenders targeting the SME and personal loan markets have been increasingly drawn to the opportunities in third-party distribution, where they see an upside in building scale through a network of referrers.
ASX-listed marketplace lender DirectMoney has signed agreements with a number of aggregation groups over the last 12 months, including Loan Market, Finsure and AFG.
These smaller lenders may not deal with the same loan sizes seen in the residential mortgage market, but they are attracting interest from banks at a time when home lending continues to come under tighter regulatory controls.
Last month, Macquarie Bank acquired a $5 million personal loan portfolio from DirectMoney and in doing so formed an agreement with the online lender that will see Macquarie become its adviser on future capital market transactions.