Quentin Martin: Building big by focusing small
A credit card issuer for small businesses (SMEs), Capital on Tap prides itself on offering SMEs the tools and resources to streamline their operations with access to quick funding. The company’s Product Director, Quentin Martin, spoke to FinTech Magazine at the Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) 2023.
He says: “We focus on founder-led businesses, maybe with as low as £2000 turnover a month. We provide these SMEs with credit cards, offering instant credit underwriting and approval. So from landing on our website to being able to spend on a virtual card or a physical one, can take as little as five minutes. We take the risk of the underwriting ourselves and try to make the life of small business owners simple.”
A different fintech among fintechs
While the term fintech represents a differentiated, challenger organisation running against the status quo of legacy banking, Martin thinks Capital on Tap goes further, individualising itself from other fintechs.
“Because our target audience focuses on SMEs and other micro businesses specifically, that differentiates us from almost all of the other FinTech players in the space. And then we're automatically differentiated from the larger banks in our nature of being a FinTech. Despite the fact we serve a niche space in the market, we’ve had over 200,000 customers and businesses, who’ve spent over £4bn with Capital on Tap. So we’re no longer an orphan, or a small business ourselves.
“But we’re unique because we really look at the personas of a small business. Our focus is on the mom-and-pop shop, the person running the burger stand, the person who's got one coffee shop that's trying to rival Starbucks in town. We do have larger turnover businesses too, but our target demographic is the small business owner – the person working on an iPad in the back of a florist. We want to help a florist sell flowers as fast as they possibly can.”
A product fit for economic hardship
With macroeconomic conditions affecting small and large businesses alike in recent times, Martin says it was important that Capital on Tap’s underwriting stood up to the highest possible conditions.
“We've done a stress test with regards to our probability of default with the potential recession and making sure that all of our underwritings stands up to something as bad as the 2008 recession. So that's what we've done as an insurance plan.
“Beyond that, higher interest rates obviously affect costs capital and movement, but in general, we're there to help small businesses. So we're there to help with their expenses, help them manage their employees and get insight into their cash flow. While the current macro trends might make capital a little bit harder to come by, it’s important to remember our average customer isn’t venture capital, and our aim is to help see small businesses through these challenging times.”
Crossing over the pond
Establishing itself as a UK-based credit provider, Capital on Tap has recently sought out expansion, moving into the US market. This represented another challenge altogether, as Martin puts it: “Our recent launch in the US has been a key focus for myself and the team.
“It’s a different ball game in the US because each state is essentially its own market. It’s about getting used to different payment rails, a different competitive environment and different regulations. The US market is an environment where businesses are exceptionally credit card savvy. You know, the average American has high-limit credit cards in their wallet. So that makes the US a very different proposition to tackle. But it’s exciting to see how we can help startups and other SMEs in different US markets.”
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