Business

Victoria Mutual acquires shares in Barbados-based FinTech Carilend

BY ABBION ROBINSON
Observer business writer

Friday, September 20, 2019

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Victoria Mutual Investment Limited (VMIL) has acquired a 30 per cent stake in Carilend, a Barbados-based financial technologies (FinTech) company, that is said to have revolutionised borrowing and lending in the Caribbean.
The alliance was announced yesterday (September 19) at a press briefing held at the AC Hotel Kingston.
Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Carilend Mark Young told The Jamaica Observer Caribbean Business Report that the partnership represented a “great marriage”.
“Barbados is a relatively small market compared to Jamaica or Trinidad, so when we wanted to expand, we were trying to find a very strong strategic partner that had a really strong brand and client base,” Young told The Caribbean Business Report.
“The strength of the [Victoria Mutual] brand, VM's client base backed up by [Carilend] technology, systems and products, when we put the two together — creates a great marriage; together, it's a great offer to customers — convenience, ease, speed, and great rates.”
Young added that while products are being customised for Jamaica's systems, the official launch can be anticipated before the end of the year.
VMIL's investment affords the company, two business seats on Carilend's five-member board of directors. These seats will be held by VM group chief investment officer and head of the strategic investments unit Devon Barrett and CEO of Building Society Operations at the VM Group Peter Reid.
While the price of the acquisition remains undisclosed, VM group chief investment officer and head of the strategic investments unit Devon Barrett indicated that within the next two years the company will begin to see noticeable profitability.
“The intention is lending; in many cases it will be unsecured lending, but the intention is to provide opportunities for borrowers, who I will say, have good intentions,” Barrett stated.
“For instance, you're in business and you need short-term capital, we will provide reasonable risk-adjusted rates; it won't be any rapacious rates because we have a reputation to maintain,” he continued.
Barrett added that Carilend's peer-to-peer lending feature – the platform that connects people that have money to lend, with people who want to borrow money in a secure online marketplace — will not be offered with VMIL and Carilend's partnership initial products roll-out, as it is not a necessity, and there is not a regulatory framework in Jamaica to support it.
As for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) gaining access to funding, VMIL's chief executive officer Rezworth Burchenson revealed that this platform is not geared specifically towards SMEs; however sole proprietors will be able to apply and be qualified for loans on the platform.
He added that VMIL and Carilend will offer on occasions, promotions based on particular demographics.
“One thing I will stress is that this is a long-term investment; Carilend is a FinTech and we do believe that when they build in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad, which is a three-year plan, sometime after that, shareholders will start to see the rewards; we encourage shareholders to be patient but we do believe it is a good investment for our VMIL shareholders,” he said.
Carilend is the first of its kind in the region, providing fully integrate end-to-end online lending through an electronic exchange platform. It was founded in 2015 by telecoms and banking industry executives Mark Linehan and Mark Young.


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