UK set to land a Funding Circle sized Unicorn

Back in October 2015, Bernard covered what was then a fledgling UK fintech startup in a promising space – Funding Circle. He spotted the company’s potential, and noted it could also be the future ‘unicorn’ the UK needed to back up its ambition to be the centre of the fintech universe.

“So it looks like Funding Circle could be one of those big winners that London needs in order to earn its coveted Fintech Capital of the World status. Lots of exciting new ventures is not enough. London needs a couple that scale to be global winners” 

He also speculated on Funding Circle’s IPO. An IPO that has just been announced in the past few days.

The question for Funding Circle is, when they get to that stage, do they IPO in America or the UK? In the days when Israeli ventures pioneered the “American flip” (switch to look like an American company) there was no choice – you did your IPO in America.

Luckily for Bernard and his fellow UK fintech followers, Funding Circle looks set to make good on its UK origins, indicating it intends to float on the London Stock Exchange, in a formal announcement, prior to the release of the prospectus.

The company is reported to be aiming for a valuation north of £2 billion.

So what’s to like?

  • The business has originated more than £5 billion in loans to over 50,000 SMEs, across the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands.
  • In doing so, it claims it has helped create more than 75,000 jobs
  • 32% of lending (ex property loans) is to repeat purchasers, which must dramatically lower customer acquisition costs across the board. In H1 2018, more than 40% of revenue came from existing customers.

And what’s the risk?

  • While revenue grew to £63.0 million in H1 2018, from £40.9 million in H1 2017, the company is yet to turn a profit. Investors will be asked to buy into the growth over profitability story for the foreseeable future.Revenue is growing as fast as operating costs are growing, when you compare H1 2017 with H1 2018. Expansion is an expensive game, although the company must have a relatively solid playbook for it now, having already completed a few sojourns.
  • Focus will be another question mark. The announcement claims the business has only tapped into an estimated 1.9% of the addressable market in the UK. Use of funds is partly slated for opportunities in new geographies.

Either way you slice Funding Circle, there is no question what they have achieved to date is phenomenal. We will be watching this one with significant interest going forward!

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

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