Online lenders are fast becoming the first port of call to avail loans and have been attracting strong funding interest from VCs and PEs. This demand for a digital lending experience has also forced traditional lenders like banks and credit unions to figure out the technology which will allow them to originate loans in a flexible yet scaleable way. They have two options: Buy or Build.
The build option can be extremely expensive and time consuming. But the buy option leads to a digital experience that is constrained, as you are dependent the features and functionalities of the vendor. Moreover, there is no way to really differentiate in the eyes of the digital customer. The solution is DigiFi: an open source tech platform which also allows you to customize along with a layer of additional services like hosting, support, platform implementation, etc.
DigiFi was founded by Joshua Jersey and Bradley Vanderstarren in 2014. It started its life as Promise Financial, an online lender, and raised $110 million in credit capital. It built up its own proprietary tech as there was no solution provider in 2014 offering an end-to-end loan origination platform that could automate the entire process. They sold off the tech to a large lending institution in 2017 and pivoted to DigiFi, one of the world’s first open source loan origination systems (LOS) which equips the lenders with flexible and modern tools to create unique platforms and digital experiences.
The company’s ideology is simple: That is to give other incumbent lenders, branches, credit unions, and startup digital lenders a platform where they do not struggle to build core lending capabilities from scratch. The company utilized the year 2017 and early 2018 to build up its platform, and started working with clients in late 2018. The company, with 10 people, has raised $4 million in equity to date and is based in New York.
The Market’s Pain Points and the DigiFi Solution
The ‘build or buy’ question creates a space for a platform that can bring together the qualities that fulfill the core origination requirements of the lending market and yet customize to give the client a competitive edge over other players. DigiFi empowers its clients to control the features and UI/UX so that it suits the specific needs of their unique client base. The existing tech vendors force the lenders into a rigid structure that limits flexibility to differentiate and provides the exact same experience for all sets of clients.
DigiFi gives the best of ‘buy vs. build’. Thus, DigiFi clients do not need to start from scratch and yet have the power to tailor the tech (buy and build, a win-win!). The company’s core platform is open source, and the source code can be accessed on Github. Revenue is generated from acting as a layer that provides hosting, support, platform implementation and customization services.
In crux, the platform of the company has features like complete lending CRM, decision engine for lending decisions, machine learning environment, and open-API architecture, and it can be configured for deployment across a range of lending verticals that include consumer, mortgage, small business, and commercial. DigiFi gives out the open source platform and its documentation for free.
The platform of the company is currently being leveraged by Sprout Mortgage, Mariner Finance, Constant Energy Capital, Greenwave, and Home Point Financial.
The Platform in Detail
The company provides its platform to the lenders for free and charges for additional services of configuration, setup, support, and running. Depending on the requirements of the client, DigiFi offers support plans for a monthly fee. The customization and platform implementation are charged on an hourly basis. The implementation time and cost varies. The implementation might take up to 4-8 weeks at a minimum and can take up to months if the lender needs to build out features from scratch. As compared to years and millions of dollars for building an in–house model, the DigiFi solution is usually in the 5-6 figure range.
As per the CEO of DigiFI, the incumbents are getting better with time as they have a lower cost of capital and existing customer base, positioning them to succeed. Getting the right tech partner on board is thus the critical piece to build a successful moat.
DigiFi offers a platform to lenders looking to tap the online lending market that not only equips them to get the best of the ‘buy vs. build’ system but also ensures full support and customization. It powers the lender with ready-made solutions, fast implementation, support and training, feature controls, unique customizations, flexible hosting options, and a contributor community. It provides the option to integrate all major data sources – Transunion, Equifax, Experian, MicroBilt, LexisNexis, etc. With over 45,000 development hours, DigiFi platform provides it clients a strong barrier to entry with complete configurability with other APIs, true scaleability with AWS, and integrated AI ML solutions.
Written by Heena Dhir.