“From the user’s point of view, we are a button that exists alongside the other payment options. When the user presses this button, they have credit available in a matter of seconds, which they can use to pay for their purchase online,” he summarizes Fernando Cabello Astolfifounder of turns me offStartup you have invested in so far Francois Derbaix and Cabiedes & Partners in a second round.

Cabello-Astolfi recalls that the idea of ​​Aplázame came from a previous company (in which Derbaix also invested) called Ibercheck, a platform to get information about individuals’ defaults.

“When we realized that this project wasn’t going to live up to the scale expectations we originally had, I started analyzing what we were doing at Ibercheck. We have collected negative payment history. This negative payment behavior feeds databases called credit reporting agencies, which are consulted by banks, financial companies, insurers, etc. to make decisions about whether or not to take a risk. I noticed that in Spain the Schufa is bad because it doesn’t contain positive payment information like in other countries; it only contains negative, punitive information when something has not been paid for. But when something pays well, there is no information about it.”

In parallel, Cabello-Astolfi also appreciated that, in addition to being able to know payment behavior, it was crucial to know consumer preferences, that is, what a given consumer likes. “It was therefore important to know what a consumer is buying and how he is paying for it. That’s when I started thinking about the idea of ​​setting up an office that not only has negative and positive information about payments, but also about users’ purchasing behavior. But business models of this kind have an intrinsic problem, which is the initial condition problem: if that database existed, everyone would buy it from you. But it doesn’t exist and how do you go from nonexistent to existent? How do you get individuals to give you information on these aspects? And then there’s the issue of first contributor disadvantage, that is, who is the first person to start contributing information for everyone else to see. These early illness problems have bothered me for a long time.”

When you realize your idea already exists…

Until one day he thought that if they make loans and keep the risk, “we’d have access to information about how they’re paying and what they’re buying because we’re going to fund it.” And at that moment I realize that this idea already exists: that it is called in Northern Europe Klara and in the US it says Bill Me Later. That means there have been others who have already gone this route, which is an implicit affirmation that there is a market with an appetite. And we set out to explore that possibility.” In July 2014, Aplázame was born.

Cabello-Astolfi claims his business is B2B2C for now: “We give credit to consumers, but in order to give it we need to create credit opportunities. And these are created in the online shops that integrate our solution. Therefore, we first had to convince online shops to integrate our solution. And that was easy because basically we increased their sales by giving their customers instant credit to buy in their stores and without any risk for the stores because Apázame is the one who advances the money to the store. With this value proposition there is a lot of interested business.”

And behind this is an important technological development: “We grant loans at the speed of light and make credit decisions based on many parameters that we can find in a very fast transaction. In the digital world it is very easy to leave traces, every browsing behavior from a computer, the IP, the way of typing, the way of surfing… represent a trace that generates a lot of data. We collect this data systematically and of course also the payment behavior. We have auto-generated algorithms that start exploring and learning from that data to see what the best decision is when making those loans.”

Cabello-Astolfi recognizes that they are undoubtedly in a period of evangelization. “There is a competitor of ours who says he is doing the same thing as us, but he is doing it well. And we say they do it well, but we do it better. They have more money than us and are taking the lead in market evangelism. The business opportunities are so great that I’m not worried about not being able to be number one. Our priority is to be the best. And that makes you number one in the long run.”

Another advantage – according to Aplázame – is that they give the cheapest loans when the customer wants it. “We want to offer the cheapest loan. And how do we offer it cheaper? We’re assuming an APR of 25%, which compares to that of the competition and also that of credit cards, revolving cards (which allow purchases to be deferred). This type of card has an interest rate that ranges between 20% and 30% APR. We allow the customer to reduce the APR from 20% to 15% if the customer connects services (social networks, online banking) with us and gives us permission to read. For example, if you let us see your Facebook, you see, we give you a 2.5% discount on the interest (that’s our income). Customer information will not be used for commercial purposes. We’re going to use it to get to know him, to find out who he is, what he likes. In the end, the credits are a matter of knowledge, of trust. If I know a person better, I can better assess their risk. And while we now offer everyone a single loan with the same interest rate, it’s not our goal to do that. Because perhaps a particular person proves that they are being offered a loan at 7% APR because it is a very safe reserve of value because from the data we have on them we know they have always complied because we know them well and because there is a very high probability that you will return your loan. Why does this person have to subsidize the losses we suffer by lending to people who pay less? This is how the credit world works. Since we are not yet able to identify the risk as much as possible, we are able to tell people: “If you allow us to get to know you better, we will lessen your interest”. Can you show me the movements of your bank account? I cut your interest by 30% (ie my income). And exclusively for the analysis of user behavior. Nothing more”.

Aplázame, which was a finalist for BBVA Open Talent, already offers its credits in around 30 online stores, “and another 70 hoping to do so shortly. In addition, we want to find the right partners to move to the next phase. We want to establish ourselves as the best product in this area. And that implies more powerful investment partners, it implies reaching the debt markets to have a fund inflow strategy to fund the loan book. These are important challenges, but we are on the right track. For us, the user experience and the user are sacrosanct. And in doing so, we follow the Zappos principles, in the sense that “we owe ourselves to our customers”. And that helps us to make decisions that are not always the best for us, but are the fairest for our customers.”

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