Sprive is a fast-growing UK based fintech that helps homeowners become mortgage-free, faster and save thousands of pounds in interest.
Jinesh Vohra is the CEO of Sprive, formerly an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs who after 14 years, decided to start Sprive after paying off his own mortgage inspired him to build technology that would help others do the same.
In this week’s Behind the Idea, he explains how they do it.
What has been the traditional response to financial technology innovations in your company?
From day one, our philosophy has been to build something that genuinely helps people in their journey towards mortgage freedom. To help achieve this, it is very important that we’re understanding user pain points and making sure that what we’re building helps solve their problems.
To achieve that, we’re committed to launching early versions of the app and are focused on building a community who are part of our journey and are willing to give us regular feedback as we continue to build Sprive.
Building close relationships with our users has been really important in helping us then set our product roadmap for 2021. The key trend we have identified is that our users want the ability to automatically chip away at their mortgage which adjusts based on their spending. They also want a 24/7 monitoring service that makes sure they are always on the best mortgage deal. Taking on-board this feedback, our team here at Sprive is now fully focused on delivering the next version of the mobile app next month/this month (March 2021).
How has this changed over the past few years?
I think it’s fair to say that the mortgage sector has fallen behind other financial services when it comes to digital innovation. So much so that the FCA published a report in 2019 which actually called for more innovation to help consumers with their mortgage.
Homeowners have traditionally been left to their own devices when it comes to managing their own mortgage.
A survey revealed that almost half of UK homeowners make mortgage overpayments without zero guidance and that 3 million homeowners will be paying off their mortgage past retirement age.
Open Banking has given companies within the mortgage industry a platform for innovation as with user consent it gives them the ability to analyse their spending in seconds.
Open Banking continues to evolve in 2021 beyond account aggregation into things like Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP) embedding and integration, which will allow Sprive the ability to top-up wallets and make payments without having to log in to a bank account.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
The pandemic has naturally had an impact on Sprive. It was extremely important for us to adapt to the uncertainty and the new reality that it ultimately brought about. With Sprive being a start-up we were laser-focused in reducing our operating costs. Significant time was spent restructuring our team and renegotiating contracts to bring our costs down. During the first lockdown here in the UK, we also spent time talking to homeowners to understand their priorities and adjusted our development plan accordingly.
In addition, with our developers being office-based, we had to quickly set up the infrastructure to make sure they could all work effectively at home. It was important to me that it didn’t impact our ability to develop Sprive and that we continued to hit internal milestones set by the Sprive leadership team. We’re now 100% working remotely and in hindsight, it’s been a win-win situation. Not only has it given our developers a lot of flexibility in the way they work, but it has also been another great way of reducing our costs.
What Fintech ideas have been implemented in your company?
Whilst we’re building innovative technology in-house, we’re also partnering with 3rd parties where it makes sense via API integrations. As an example, Sprive uses TrueLayer as our Open Banking provider.
Our technology is 100% cloud-based, so we’ve invested heavily in automated testing. We also have passwordless multifactor authentication and our release automation infrastructure allows us to deploy code multiple times per day within minutes.
What benefits have these brought?
It has allowed Sprive to build a secure mobile app that allows us to quickly scale based on demand for our product. It also allows us to develop and deploy new exciting features much faster than using more traditional means of building technology.
With our partners at TrueLayer, we were quickly able to release the first version of the app which allowed our users to make real-time payments via PISP to their mortgage lender in a safe and secure manner.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Every month I hear about new competitors entering the market and utilising technology and data to deliver innovative solutions to help individuals manage their personal finances. So staying competitive is definitely a challenge especially for the companies that are more traditional in nature.
As industries shift to new technologies, so do regulations, and financial services is already one of the most heavily regulated industries. For mortgages, it will be interesting to see whether new regulation serves to stifle or foster innovation given the economic backdrop. Data protection continues to be a focus for regulators with data breaches as a result of cyber-attacks continuing to be prevalent.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
Yes, I believe so especially as customers are increasingly looking for an integrated experience for their financial needs. With the pandemic, the reliance on digital services has become even more paramount. I believe we will see more financial services in 2021 leveraging the insights and capabilities of FinTechs through partnerships and acquisitions. With the availability of APIs it’s never been easier to integrate with third-party systems for mutual benefit.
RegTech continues to grow and benefit from the ever-changing regulatory landscape and given the nature of technology, CyberTech plays a significant role in helping companies including Fintech’s develop their information security and financial crime-fighting strategies.
At Sprive, we’ve spent a significant amount of resources in making sure we have put in place the latest security measures to safeguard our users.
I’m definitely excited about the year ahead. Every week to continue to help more people on their journey towards becoming mortgage-free. If you’re a homeowner in the UK and interested in being mortgage, free faster and saving thousands along the way then get in touch.