In the Spotlight... Craig Fenwick from Alex

Aussies have plenty of reasons to take out a personal loan. Whether it’s snazzing things up with a kitchen renovation, buying a campervan to live the grey-nomad life or investing in solar panels, a bit of extra cash upfront can certainly go a long way. Plus, what better place to start looking for that extra funding than with Alex, a Mozo Experts Choice Personal Loans Award winner!

One of Australia’s newest fintechs, Alex does things a little differently to other similar neobanks. We sat down with co-founder and chief financial and product officer Craig Fenwick to talk about the launch of Alex’s personal loan product this year, why its technology makes for a top-notch user experience and what plans it has for the future.

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By Tara McCabe· Thursday 12 November 2020

Doing things differently

Two years after setting up its headquarters in Brisbane, fintech Alex introduced its first financial product in July this year. Now generally speaking, most new financial service providers or fellow neobanks start things off fairly traditionally with deposit accounts. Not one to follow the crowd however, Alex decided to do things a little differently, instead launching the Alex Personal Loan with tailored interest rates.

This move is working out well for the innovative new provider as well, as this product just won the 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Award for Best New Loan Product. 

Fenwick says he and the Alex team are thrilled to be taking home the award. 

“We’re humbled by this win and even more grateful for the many customers who have placed their trust in us by taking out an Alex Personal Loan."

He describes the team as a group of “bankers, technologists and designers” all with the same mission, namely to make finance a faster, simpler and fairer reality for borrowers. 

So, how do Alex intend to go about achieving this? The short answer: with some super snappy tech and a simpler pricing structure. The long answer? Read on ...

Short and snappy

If you’ve ever had to apply for a financial product, say a loan or insurance, then you’ll know that sifting through reams of paper and guides can be both tiring and confusing. You sometimes get the feeling that banks and lenders forget that not everyone is down with financial and legal jargon.

Well, you’ll be happy to hear that just like it’s name, Alex aims to make its Personal Loan application process shorter and simpler.

Fenwick says, “Alex brings different leading-edge technologies and partners together to provide safer, simpler and more personalised offerings. Our personal loan applications can be completed within five minutes with all necessary information seamlessly and securely collected from customers. This results in very few circumstances where Alex needs to ask customers for additional information to make a good lending decision.”

Plus, not only is it quick to apply but Fenwick says that Alex’s loan offers are sent out to customers within 30 minutes during business hours. So, if you need some extra cash on short notice, it could be worth seeing what Alex has to offer.

Innovative tech for more accurate ID checks

Of course, as a fintech and aspiring neobank, it would be remiss of us not to talk about Alex’s innovative tech. 

The first thing to note is that all of Alex’s systems are secured with 256bit SSL bank-grade encryption. What does that mean? Well, it basically means that Alex uses one of the most secure, modern and advanced algorithms to encrypt data and files.

In fact, a cybercriminal would have to try out a ridiculous number of combinations to get the right one (the actual number is 78 digits long!).

Besides this, Fenwick says the company is quite proud of its biometric verification process embedded in its application.

He notes that Alex customers don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of getting to a branch and supplying certified copies of identification in person. 

“Identity verification is done automatically and instantly through a photo capture of the ID and a selfie of the customer ensuring they are one and the same person,” says Fenwick.

He adds that by using a biometric verification process, Alex can significantly reduce the risk of identity theft and fraud.

The loan itself

So that’s the application process, but what about the loan itself?

Fenwick says, “We listened to lots of customer feedback before we finalised the design and launch of the Alex Personal Loan.”

With all this feedback under its belt, Alex then set about designing a loan with personalised interest rates, less fees and more flexibility. 

“Alex offers personalised interest rates based on your credit history and doesn't penalise you for making additional repayments or paying your loan out earlier,” says Fenwick.

Rates for the loan are fixed and start as low as 6.95% p.a. (6.95% p.a. comparison rate*) for borrowers with an excellent credit score. There are no ongoing service fees, no penalty for repaying early and extra repayments are allowed.

There is usually a $295 application fee, but this is currently waived until 30 November 2020. 

When it comes to searching for a loan, Fenwick’s advice to future borrowers is to not just look at the interest rate, but be aware of any fees involved, especially any monthly ongoing fees which can add up to be quite expensive.

Plans for the future

Although not technically a bank yet, Alex has big plans for when it is granted its Restricted ADI license from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). After previously suspending a number of operations in April, APRA announced that it will be recommencing issuing banking licenses next March.

Fenwick says, “We can’t wait to launch additional offerings, particularly in the deposits space, once we are granted a Restricted ADI license.”

As with its personal loan, he says Alex’s savings product will reflect its mantra to be simple, fast and fair.