SAN JOSE, Calif. — BLender, an Israel-based lending platform, secured an e-money license from Central Bank of the Republic of Lithuania last month. Since Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the license applies to the other 27 EU member states.
“We are currently active in Italy, Israel and Lithuania, and are planning to launch in two other Baltic countries this year, and working on launching in Southeast Asia,” BLender CEO Gal Aviv said during the Bank Innovation 2017 conference on Monday.
The license was granted on Feb. 14, and pertains to pretty much all-things lending: issuing and distributing electronic money; payment account operations, including cash deposits/withdrawals, credit card payments; money remittance; digital transfers.
“After the initial launch in Israel, we found ourselves as the second largest private lending platform in the country, so we thought it may be the time to go global,” Aviv said. The company quickly realized that overcoming regulatory hurdles is the first challenge to overcome. “This is the same license that companies like Amex and Paypal or other big payments [companies] work with, so this is something that we put a lot of effort in,” he added.
The goal is to allow credit in places where there isn’t enough credit access, and to provide cutting edge digital tools to lending institutions, according to Aviv. And underwriting is key in this task. “We use social data, behavioral data, we use demographics and we use financials — we use whatever it is and push into this data engine in order to get good results and expand credit access,” he said.
BLender funds its loans through peer-to-peer, balance sheet, and partner institutions — whatever is appropriate for the particular circumstances, Aviv said.