For start-up Finda, information is hottest commodity
To help, finance start-up Finda asks users a series of questions regarding financial status and goals, and uses the answers to find the most suitable services from over 1,000 financial products. The company makes money by collecting commission fees from banks for linking their users with featured products, but the head of Finda believes that its real asset is a treasure trove of data it collects from customers.
Korea JoongAng Daily sat down with Lee Hye-min, co-founder and CEO of Finda, to discuss its business model and the way it uses data.
Q. What kind of services are available on Finda?
A. We pull together a wide range of savings accounts and loan products from major retail and savings banks. Finda also shows peer-to-peer (P2P) lending services that directly connect borrowers with lenders. Users can also sign up for those products on our platform. Some products require online subscriptions but others allow for mobile registration. If customers need to fill in documents, Finda sends them PDF files.
Who are your target customers?
Finda primarily targets those in their 20s and 30s who don’t have much experience in managing their assets. They tend to have average credit ratings, neither particularly good nor bad. Since they are accustomed to doing things digitally, they feel comfortable with the online services provided by Finda. In that age group, people tend to change their jobs frequently in the beginning of their careers. When they are between jobs, commercial banks are reluctant to lend them money, and if they do, they charge higher interest rates. But Finda provides a wide range of loan products such as P2P services usually with mid-range interest rates. When we look at our users, 60 percent of them are between 26 and 34.
You said that different financial products from major banks are available on Finda. How many banks have partnered with you to provide their services on Finda?
Finda has over 1,000 financial products sourced from 178 financial companies as of April 28. Our partners include the vast majority of retail banks including KEB Hana Bank, Shinhan Bank, KB Kookmin Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea and Woori Bank. We also formed partnerships with savings banks including OK Savings Bank, KB Savings Bank and SBI Savings Bank.
As for P2P lending, we are cooperating with P2P lending service operators HonestFund and Funda, and we will soon sign agreements with 8PERCENT and Lendit.
We plan to expand the range of financial services available to include insurance and securities products.
How does Finda turn a profit?
Our business model is based on commission fees by the partnered financial companies in return for connecting our users with the institutes’ products. But the most important mission of the company is to offer reliable information about those products. And the success of Finda as an intermediary platform depends on the reliability of the information and our ability to match consumers’ needs with existing products. Later on, I believe that Finda can capitalize on the vast amount of financial information filled in by users.
What kind of information is being collected from users?
When a customer signs up for a loan product they answer 13 questions that largely focus on their financial status. The questions include the value of the property they own, annual salary, age, gender and their job. For subscription to a savings account, they answer 11 questions. On top of that, we also get access to the so-called social data collected from various social media sites since some users log in with their Facebook or other accounts. In that case, we can obtain both direct and indirect information about consumers’ behavior and purchase patterns. Finda is collaborating with research institutes to analyze data about the frequency of social media use, the number of posts and the content of those posts. And we combine that data with the information we’ve gathered about their financial status, which generates really meaningful data businesswise.
What kind of goals or objectives have you set moving forward?
Finda is still in its infancy. We need more information to analyze. Credit card companies can be a good partner since we may share the information about transactions made on cards. I am passionate about expanding. Now, most products are loan services or savings account but eventually we plan to include fund and credit card subscription and insurance products.
BY PARK EUN-JEE, KIM JI-YOON [email@example.com]