Rishi Sunak reveals New Business Support Plan

Chancellor Rishi Sunak cancelled the winter budget to pave way for emergency measures as the UK battles another wave of COVID infections. With government support schemes CBILS, BBLS and Future Fund coming to end in September and furlough scheme in October, he laid out plans to extend the support.

CBILS and BBLS extension

Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme has been extended till 30th November 2020 and lenders have till end of December to approve the applications.

Decimal Factor has witnessed a multifold increase in applications and approvals

“Pay As You Grow Scheme”

Loans can be repaid over ten years if the businesses are in difficulty without any impact on the credit score.

New Job Support Scheme

Government will pay for one third of lost hours for employees who work at least one third of their usual hours. Grant is capped at £697.92 per month and is valid for 6 months starting Nov 2020. Employers will cover the worked hours and one third of lost hours. Scheme is targeted mainly at SMEs. Larger businesses can apply if their turnover has witnessed fall during COVID.

New Business Support Scheme

Cut in VAT from 20% to 5% for hospitality and tourism businesses has been extended until March 2021

AFS Expands Contact Center Offering with Global Centre of Excellence in Bahrain

Arab Financial Services (AFS), the region’s leading payment solutions provider and FinTech enabler, has expanded its contact center offering providing a tailored service for Decimal Factor, a UK-based aggregator and digital credit brokerage platform that is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The dedicated contact center will cater to the Middle East & EMEA region, UK & USA markets, from Bahrain, and will comprise over 100 employees by the first quarter of 2020.

This expands on AFS’ existing contact center solutions, from its conventional 24/7 inbound contact center activities, to an outbound telemarketing set-up covering customers outside the Middle East. AFS currently operates contact centres in Bahrain and Oman for banks, financial institutions and insurance providers across the region. AFS’ contact center offering consistently provides exceptional customer experiences, efficient service, first call resolutions and consolidation of customer information that ensures sophisticated service request routing to resolve issues and respond to queries more efficiently.

Speaking of the partnership with Decimal Factor, Mr. B Chandrasekhar AFS CEO said: “This is a significant opportunity for AFS. This partnership will see us expand our distinctive contact center offering while creating greater employment opportunities for Bahrainis. We are committed to building larger talent pools in the Kingdom and providing them with comprehensive training and development to upskill our workforce with the competencies required to enhance customer support and satisfaction.”

Founded in 2008, Decimal Factor’s digital credit brokerage platform has successfully arranged £50 million funding for SME’s to date. Its digital credit brokerage platform provides real-time comparisons and funding decisions from lenders to help business owners secure funding when they need it. Aligned with AFS’ Fintech activities, Decimal Factor operates on Artificial intelligence, harnessing data through data science, open-banking-enabled data capture and submissions to lenders to create a digital journey through portals, apps, API’s and POS devices and via merchant management tools.

Mr. Manoj Karkhanis, CEO, Decimal Factor said: “I am very excited about our recently launched Global Centre of Excellence (GCOE) at AFS. This GCOE will be our Back Office and Support hub to acquire new customers digitally and use conventional channels in UK, USA, Middle East & EMEA region. Our workforce talent gives us an edge in this competitive arena to cater to various markets globally and with this in mind we look forward to a successful Decimal Factor hub at AFS Bahrain.”

With more than 30 years of experience, AFS serves over 75 clients across the financial sector in more than 20 countries. AFS is owned by 37 banks and financial institutions and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The company offers innovative and end-to-end payment services and solutions that span card processing, merchant acquiring, Fintech and a state-of-the-art value-added services suite. AFS has introduced significantly disruptive and cutting-edge Fintech solutions in recent years: In 2018, AFS introduced bwallet to the region – the first mobile wallet facilitating peer-to-peer and cashless transactions. Today, bwallet has established itself as the market leader with a significant user and merchant footprint across the Kingdom of Bahrain. EasyPay was another first from AFS – Bahrain’s first NFC payment service allowing payments with a tap of the mobile. Other innovations rolled out by AFS have been electronic KYC, Peer-to-Peer (P2P), Peer-to-Merchant (P2M), QR enabled payments, Tokenization, Remittance, WPS and Digital Banking solutions.

Decimal Factor appoints new Managing Director

We’re delighted to introduce you to Daniel Stanton, Decimal Factor’s new Managing Director.

Prior to joining us, Daniel worked at Funding Circle for just over 5 years. During that time, he worked alongside brokers to help them increase the number of customers, as well as the amount of business loans they arranged.

Daniel has a strong analytics background. Having worked with a range of leading brokerages in the commercial finance space and having witnessed what works well and what doesn’t, he has a strong understanding of a lender’s perspective, as well as a broker’s and brings this unique knowledge to his new role at Decimal Factor.

Daniel felt particularly drawn to Decimal Factor’s strong belief that the UK’s various communities and demographics bring value to our economy and deserve to be served appropriately. 

His ambition is to turn Decimal Factor into one of the largest, most efficient brokerages in the UK, with an emphasis on doing things right, be it from compliance, KYC checks, or automated and digitised processes.

Daniel joined the team over the summer, at a really crucial time for the business as we are in the midst of a large funding round.  His initial focus has been on building our tech and CRM infrastructure, then scaling growth of staff numbers and volumes of facilities completed and origination values. And this is just the beginning! 

We’re very excited by Daniel’s arrival and what it means to the business and we are confident that our customers will benefit hugely from his expertise and vision for the future.

Decimal Factor announces 2-year partnership with FairbairnBC

Decimal Factor is very pleased to announce a two-year sponsorship with Fairbairn Boxing Club which encourages grassroots boxing.

Fairbairn Boys Club was originally founded in the late 1800’s by Lady Trowe for the underprivileged children of the East End. The club became the now renowned Fairbairn Amateur Boxing Club at the start of the 1998-1999 boxing season.The Essex-based offers facilities to 20 to 30 young men and women, boys and girls. They train 3 to 4 times per week, and learn the discipline of sport, the joy of winning and the resilience that comes with defeat.

Fairbairn Amateur Boxing Club firmly believes that boxing helps keep young boys and girls off the streets and in a safe sports environment. A prime example of their outstanding work comes in the person of Anthony Joshua. AJ was in trouble with the law at an early age before he was introduced to boxing. AJ has now turned his life around.

Manoj Karkhanis, CEO of Decimal Factor, said: “I am delighted to support this cause. The youth of today is afforded little credit but I can see how boxing can help bring out the camaraderie and wonderful sportsmanship among these young people.”

The club will host The Fairbairn Boxing show, a 3-course dinner, private bar and live boxing event, on 18th May 2019 at 7pm. The event will take place at  The Prince Regent Hallmark Hotel, Manor Road, Chigwell, Essex IG8 8AE. We plan to arrive at 6pm

Manoj added: “Others too will have plenty of opportunities at the show to support the Fairbairn Boxing club through auctions and raffles. All the proceeds will go towards the running of the club.”

AFS Adds International Prepaid Mobile Top Up to Suite of Services

We are delighted to announce that Arab Financial Services (AFS), the MEA region’s leading payment solutions provider and FinTech enabler, has added seamless international bill payments services to its scope of offerings, in partnership with Decimal Factor.

AFS partners and financial institutions can avail of the company’s growing financial ecosystem which now includes local and international telco. payments. The initial service offering is International Prepaid Mobile Top Up, allowing customers to top up any international prepaid mobile phone account, digitally, in over 150 different countries, including neighboring GCC states, and with almost 700 different operators across the globe.

Mr. B Chandrasekhar, Chief Executive Officer of AFS said: “AFS’ market-leading technology brings a first-of-its-kind, innovative service to our partners in the Kingdom and across the region. Our international bill payments service offers superior, streamlined processes that further empower our partners and their customers while still maintaining all the controls and safety measures which we stand for as a company. We look forward to seeing how this new, technology-driven solution further shapes the financial landscape in which we operate.”

Manoj Karkhanis, CEO Decimal Factor, said: “It’s a pleasure to offer our bespoke UK platform and APIs to enable services for AFS. We believe AFS is revolutionizing payments in their region and we are happy to play our part to strengthen AFS’s initiative. In future we plan to work closely with AFS to bring acceptance of their digital solutions to UK merchants and take our relationship to new heights. This marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship.”

AFS serves over 75 clients across the financial sector in more than 21 countries. It is owned by 37 banks and financial institutions and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The company offers innovative and end-to-end payment services and solutions that span card processing, merchant acquiring, FinTech and a state-of-the-art value-added services suite. AFS has offices and data centers in Bahrain, UAE and Oman, and was the first processor in the region to become Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 3.2 certified. Recipient of several global awards, AFS has most recently been recognized as of ‘The Most Innovative FinTech Solution Provider 2018’ at the GCC Enterprise Awards 2018 and ‘Best Payment Service Provider – Bahrain 2017’ by Global Banking and Finance Review. Finzo, a wholly-owned FinTech subsidiary of AFS, is licensed by the CBB as Ancillary Services Provider and Payment Services Provider. The Finzo website can be accessed at www.finzodigital.com

About AFS:

Established in 1984, Arab Financial Services (AFS) is the MEA region’s leading payment solutions provider and FinTech enabler.

The company offers innovative and end-to-end payment services and solutions that span card processing, merchant acquiring, FinTech and a state-of-the-art value-added services suite.

Focused on introducing innovative payment products and cutting edge FinTech solutions that support governments on their trajectory towards a digital economy, AFS can empower businesses by exploring and investing in superior technologies that help shape the future of financial experiences and how they are conducted: anytime, anywhere and anyhow.

In 2018, AFS introduced bwallet to the region – the first mobile wallet facilitating peer-to-peer and cashless transactions. Today, bwallet has established itself as the market leader with a significant user and merchant footprint across the Kingdom of Bahrain. EasyPay was another first from AFS – Bahrain’s first NFC payment service allowing payments with a tap of the mobile. Other innovations rolled out by AFS have been electronic KYC, Peer-to-Peer (P2P), Peer-to-Merchant (P2M), QR enabled payments, Tokenization, Remittance, WPS and Digital Banking solutions. 2018 also saw AFS launch merchant acquiring services to banks in both Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman including end-to-end platform, settlement, eCommerce and integrated POS devices supporting contactless cards, NFC, QR and other forms of payment acceptance.

Serving over 75 clients across the financial sector in more than 21 countries, AFS is owned by 37 banks and financial institutions and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain.

AFS has offices and data centers in Bahrain, UAE and Oman, and was the first processor in the region to become Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 3.2 certified.

Recipient of several global awards, AFS has most recently been recognized as of ‘The Most Innovative FinTech Solution Provider 2018’ at the GCC Enterprise Awards 2018 and ‘Best Payment Service Provider – Bahrain 2017’ by Global Banking and Finance Review.

For further information visit www.afs.com.bh

$500k unsecured facility for a Coventry (UK) based business

Decimal Factor recently assisted a Coventry-based business with obtaining a $500k unsecured business loan facility through one of our preferred Business Cash Advance lender.

The customer needed to raise funds for bulk stock purchasing along with carrying out store refurbishments. Initially, they had planned to do this by approaching their bank, but the process was taking too much time, along with endless requirement of documents.

Our Business development director had been in touch with the customer for a couple of months and during one of his follow up calls, the customer mentioned their pressing requirements.  Our director discussed the range of alternative finance products available and within no time, the customer agreed to a business cash advance option.

We therefore assisted the customer with getting a $500k unsecured loan facility on the basis of their card sales. This did require for Decimal Factor to gain a full understanding of the client’s business model so that our Business development director could accurately relay our customer’s requirements to the lender and arrange the documents required by the lender in a timely fashion. Owing to our Business development director’s persistence and determination and consistent follow up with the lenders, we were able to close the deal within 10 days.

All communications with the customer happened over the telephone and this resulted in faster response times, quicker exchanges of information and documents together with the e-signing of contracts.

If you’d like to find out more about our offering or would like to discuss a case, please get in touch today.

Akshay Sharma

Chief Operating Officer

Time -Money- Pension -Funds

With all the talk about the different types of funding that are available to business owners there is often one option that is overlooked that I think is important for me to bring to your attention.
There is a form of business funding where the interest you pay on the finance provided is paid back to you.

As a business owner, not only can you grow your business with the funding it requires, but you can potentially increase your net worth at the same time.

Unlike many of the newer forms of alternative funding out there, this has been available since the 1970s. It has been well tried and tested but not that well known to many business owners.

Pension-led funding (PLF) allows you to invest a portion of your accrued pension assets into the business – without the requirement for personal guarantees or charges over your domestic assets.

The interest on this finance is paid back into the pension, tax relievable from the business standpoint and with all the tax benefits of growing in a pension scheme.

For business owners this is an option that you should consider alongside other funding options if you have money held in pensions. It might not be for you, but you should look at how you might use PLF to help achieve two of your most important goals…

  • Growing your own business
  • Building your net worth

Written by :

 

Freakonomics Of Middle East. Decimal Factor paves the road to UAE, Bahrain.

 

Khalid Al Rumaihi CE, Bahrain EDB, spoke very eloquently at the AFS Fin-tech Event in Bahrain. In general, he spoke about GCC’s readiness for Fin-tech, but also about the direct GCC relationship between spend and oil prices. In 2008 when oil prices dropped, the spending crashed. However, in 2014 when oil prices recovered, the spending went back up by 400 %. The prices dropped again after 2015 and so did the spend. It is simple and very clear, spend is directly proportional to oil prices in GCC i.e. aggressive when the oil prices are up and regressive when they are low. Now, with the cost of technology for oil extraction at its lowest, the chances of seeing oil prices at the $80-$100 mark, is highly unlikely. Therefore, all GCC are rethinking their strategy to revenue. To add to their oil price problem, the world has not helped either – Brexit, China slowdown and the US Presidential election, have kept the sentiments for a recovery of oil prices very low. On a separate note, 86% in MENA do not have bank accounts. Ecommerce will be 20 billion by 2020 in the Arab world. GCC nations have no choice but to open up banking, even if government owned institutions will be affected. Also, kingdoms and countries will have to rethink subsidies as they will most likely start to disappear. We will see tax as a more regular source of income in GCC. VAT is already being implemented later this year, income tax and others will be next to follow. I believe that it is not a case of if but when, governments start looking at taxation as a regular source of income for their administrations. I would not be surprised if that is sooner than we think. But of course, not all is bad in GCC. With the excellent infrastructure these countries have built during their good times and having a bold vision for the Middle East, their governments have been able to build real and vibrant economies. They have the best of roads, hotels, restaurants and in general, a robust infrastructure that many living in East and North Africa would like to call home. They have also created an environment which attracts talent from the west, who want to stay and work in the Middle East. There is no fear that these countries will fail. They will not, even if there is a further crisis in oil prices. However, they will now have to get used to living in the real world and no longer expect their rich old grandfather “Oil,” to keep paying and funding growth.

Dr. Mario Thaten, Digital Banking Practice Leader, McKinsey & Company, had a suggestion for banks in Bahrain. He said all banks in the world and especially in ME, have no choice but to follow the three R’s:

  1. Resilience (lean and mean operation)
  2. Renewal (10 to 100 times closer to the customer )
  3. Re-invent (look at Fintech to reduce cost)

Regulators are keen to make change, the Governor of Bahrain said he will launch directives to help and make it easy for crowd funding and alternative Fin-tech to be in Bahrain.

I was representing Decimal Factor in Bahrain through an invitation from Sunil Madtha, Sr Clients Relationship at Arab Financial Services Compnay. I was also delighted to meet with B Chandrasekhar, AFS’s Chief Executive Officer (in pic top left) and Hassan Mayassi,  AFS Processing Services  CEO UAE & Group Director. Decimal Factor is currently in talks with AFS, Accenture & DIFC (Fin-tech Hive) in UAE, to launch in Dubai (UAE) and Bahrain by June this year and we believe, the Middle East will be our next big market place after success in the US and UK Markets.

Freakonomics is the new economics and if there is anything one must read in the above article, it is the opportunity for banks and alternative finance players to disrupt the Middle East in a positive way.

The Middle East will come out stronger and more successfully from the oil crisis.

 

Manoj Karkhanis.

Decimal Factor’s visit to Mexico.

 

I had a thrilling time in Mexico where I was able to explore an untapped alternative finance market and build new bridges which will last for a long time. I am truly excited about what I witnessed in Mexico and I am honoured to have been selected to be apart of the United Kingdom’s FinTech delegation to Mexico.
After visiting the FinTech hub in Mexico I had a very productive meeting with the regulators there and had the privilege to participate in a Q and A session (Click to view) which they had put on. This was a great introduction to how the Mexican FinTech scene is set up and enabled me to create strong partnerships. In the Q and A session I was also able provide a few tips and share some of the knowledge I have gained while working in the FinTech sector. I was also invited by the Department of International trade to deliver a key note speech at the Pay Expo (Click to view)Americas.  This was a fantastic experience where I was able to touch upon a few key areas of change that we will be noticing not just in Mexico but also around the world. There are already many great products out there on the market. Now a days there are smart terminals and smart watches. We are constantly seeing developments in the payments sector. But the use of cash will still be prominent. This is because it is down to the consumer to choose how they would like to deal with payments. It is the role of companies like Decimal Factor to use all of theavailable means to make an all round better experience for the consumer and if we can provide a WOW factor, then that is a plus!
I also managed to touch upon a few more developments that will happen in the the future. Smart contracts. This is a phenomena which has already got the banks and the entire finance industry excited. This form of alternative
finance and alternative business will soon loose the adjective and will just become business and finance. This is a form of block chain which will make contracts paperless and transactions T-zero. After learning about block chain  (Click to view) in Las Vegas I firmly believe that within my lifetime I will be able to see transactions happen in
0 days. This will be a true feat in the payments sector.
I was asked a very interesting question during the session with the regulators which made me think of how effective the FCA is here in the United Kingdom and what Mexico can learn from the UK in terms of regulation. At the moment Mexico has three different regulators. The FCA however, has a number of different bodies working under one umbrella organisation. This is a very beneficial system as once you are regulated by the FCA a company can begin as a credit broker and grow into a wealth manager as they will always have one regulatory number where they can then apply for many different licences. This is something that will definitely help businesses in Mexico just like it has helped businesses in the UK.
What has Decimal Factor learned from it’s experience in Mexico ? What are Decimal Factor’s plans for Mexico?
Decimal Factor will launch it’s Mexican based company and have operations live in Mexico by May 2017. It will build a team of core Funding Specialists under the leadership of our Managing Director in Mexico, Gerrardo Saldivarto and Mik Basi our Chairman- South Americas. Decimal Factor (Mexico) will help our USA operations. This is to help reach out to the Spanish speaking community that resides in the US. This foundation will enhance our capabilities to build for the future. It is our
aim to launch our Cash Advance Programme successfully in Mexico by 2018.
Mexico will be alongside USA, UK, UAE, India and Singapore when Decimal Factor launches it’s new alternative finance platform, using the latest technology built on BlockChain and using new age Smart Contracts which Decimal Factor will be launching by 2019.

The  trip ended with a lunch meeting with Mauricio Sulaimán the President of  WBC (World Boxing Council). He had great things to say about Great Britain Boxing and also about the potential India has in Professional Boxing.

You may remember my association and love for boxing when Decimal Factor sponsored  Great Britain’s Lion Hearts V/s Russia at The Brewery in London. (Click to view)

Manoj Karkhanis.

Middle East is ready for Alternative Finance Are You Ready For Me

Payments is increasingly becoming the backbone of Financial Services especially for alternative finance where the loan/ Factoring product which is not collateralised but the mechanism of repayment acts as a collateral.As the world get more cashless and new digital payments will evolve. Alternative finance companies will use the digital transaction flow to understand cash flows , patterns and even profitability. They will then use these to make informed & instant artificial intelligence based funding decisions resulting in more financial products for Merchants.

The Alternative Finance has had steady growths in UK andUSA which will continue in 2017. However I see an unique opportunity in UAE. In middle east mostly banks are providing the card acquiring solutions to business, except for likes of AFS in Bahrain who have a high share of the market. The opportunity for Alternative Finance providers could be to partner with a Bank in UAE and in countries like Bahrain tie up with the likes of AFS. Through alternative finance providers this product can be offered by bank directly to the moderate risk customers using their own funds but for high risk customers they could pass it to alternative finance providers or do a syndication model.This is a much needed loan for Small Business who have low scale but High margins. They can afford the cost but don’t have the liquidity.The merchants shares a part of his profit as a fee and it’s not a interest product. We are consulting with Sharia Scholars to review this and see if a Sharia compliment certification can be awarded to card receivable factoring.

Sure it benefits the UAE customer but how do the UAE Bank benefit from partnering with an alternative finance player ?

Benefit for the UAE bank is following

  • They will be reaching out to potential loan customers for the bank and helping bank sell more of its loan products and earn higher revenue.
  • If the partner UAE bank is able to offer a loan for the customer who is with a competing bank then the customer will tend to switch all their banking needs to the bank that provide the loan to them .i.e. their bank. They will also acquire this customer for its main banking lifecycle and also merchant acquiring.
  • In 2018 VAT and taxation will come into play in UAE. This will create a new need for alternative finance as businesses are not use to calculate and provide for tax provision. Small business suddenly realise that they are due for tax at the last minute and there is a big uptake of alternative finance for such requirements due to cash flow situations. We have seen here in UK that taxation can provides algorithms for funding , in future with an API into tax authority ( in UK HMRC provides one) one will be able to take machine decisions( artificial intelligence (AI) based decisions) on lending. With AI & Algorithms becoming more efficient one can develop a platform which will have a value for banks. One who move now we will have an early movers advantage in ME for alternative lending data that can then feed AI models.
  • The Dubai government wants to be on blockchains by 2020. This too is an opportunity. I have detailed the impact of blockchain on alternative financein my article separately just after my visit to Las Vegas, Money2020*.

Here above is a short dump of my thoughts and views. Can you please put them through your wisdom and acid test them for imperfections ? Or if you have been in the UAE market and don’t agree or see hurdles. Please comment. I would love to receive you critical comments if any and if you like it please share it.

Invisible payments in a smart Terminal world
Cards Receivable Factoring – Decimal Factor Advert
Impact of blockchain on alternative finance