Perception brings to market new core platform for UK credit unions, lenders and start-up banks
UK-based financial services vendor Perception is building a new comprehensive platform for credit unions, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), loan companies and start-up banks.
The solution aims to cover loans, savings, mortgages and current account business lines, front-to-back office.
Be different, make a difference
Perception has identified the gap in the market that it feels is not adequately addressed by the existing providers. The company feels that the products offered by large banking software firms are pushing credit unions and CDFIs to be more like banks. “But why should they aspire to be like banks?” asks Andrew Rabbitt, MD of Perception.
“The banking sector is not winning any popularity contests at present, and credit unions and CDFIs can offer a genuine alternative to the disgruntled public.”
Furthermore, around 12% of the UK adult population falls in the category of people that do not have access to mainstream banking – and big banks are not interested in onboarding these types of customers as there is no money in it for them, comments Rabbitt. The credit unions are closer to the local communities and could genuinely make a difference to those who feel they have no choice but turn to loan sharks.
“Our partners need to attract a new, wider audience of both savers and borrowers to stay in business,” Rabbitt explains. “To compete against payday lenders and high-street banks, they need the support and technology to give them a commercial advantage – for example making lending decisions faster or offering a wider, more flexible and innovative range of products.”
However, the main barrier is cost – the technology exists, but is out of reach for most credit unions.
And this is where Perception comes into play. “The more innovative platforms are out of reach to all but the largest organisations and attempts to rebuild legacy systems will incur significant cost and time,” the vendor says.
The new offering, developed by Perception, is “a modern, flexible, affordable, modular customer and financial management platform”. It also offers advanced analytics and reporting tools. It will enable users to offer products and services “usually restricted to high street banks”. Users will also be able to join the Perception CS Alliance community and the CS Development Forum.
From small acorns…
The new platform is still in the build stage, says Rabbitt, but a number of modules are already available. A number of credit unions in the north of England and loan companies are implementing the new modules. As the community of users grows, more functionality will be fleshed out.
The platform is offered as an onsite deployment or on a hosted basis.
As Perception’s roots are in the analytics and business intelligence (BI) software, this is the area that has got modules ready to be used.
The vendor promises a “one day delivery, even connecting to existing systems”, and “seamless data migration from existing systems” when the time comes to switch off the legacy software.
Support is provided 24×7, by email and phone, and all the development is done by a team in the UK.
Financial perks are a key differentiator, the vendor feels, with the system providing aggregated transactions (to reduce banking and other fees); low-cost, subscription-based pricing (the terms are flexible, from one to ten plus years); and paying only for the modules that are used.
Perception also promises considerable efficiency savings over manual back office processes (up to 80%) for system users and an integrated process for customers, from sign-up to settlement.
APIs will enable connectivity to third parties such as telephone systems, payment card providers, credit reference agencies and debt management, and banks (where possible).
As mentioned earlier, the platform will continue to evolve and be developed by the Perception CS Alliance and CS Development Forum.
“We are a technology partner, so we see this as a continual development process, always looking at ways to keep ahead,” Rabbitt states. “It will be a fully transparent development, with open feature request process, driven by our customers.”
The CS Alliance and CS Development Forum are free to join.
In addition, Perception will provide PR, HR, legal, financial and debt management support.
UK credit unions: modernise or bust?
There is a lot of activity going on in the UK’s credit union space, as the participants realise they have no choice but to modernise. So who is doing what? Which technology providers are set to gain and who might be a loser? Banking Technology investigates – click here to read more.