Tech Pitch: Uberima

Based at Manchester's MediaCity, this start-up intends to fix the "broken" payday market. Founders Ged O'Neill and Giles Harridge explain how

Company name: Uberima
Founders: Ged O’Neill (48) and Giles Harridge (48)
Background: Serial entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and similar values. Like using tech to solve big problems.
Based in: MediaCityUK, Manchester

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Uberima is a social enterprise that fills the void between credit unions and payday lenders.
  • We provide cheaper short term loans to the underserved and over charged.
  • We offer massive flexibility to consumers to borrow from one week to one year and to adjust repayments as their circumstances change.
  • Uberima is committed to financial inclusion, capability and resilience.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Relative to mainstream consumer finance, everyone knows that that the UK short term loan market is broken but there is a false assumption that this is unavoidable.

Uberima has created something none of the major banks have been able to – a solution that puts consumers first and is designed to lower costs even further as economies of scale kick in.

Are you funded?

We’ve funded the business ourselves and put in the equivalent of over £5m of investment to get to launch. By taking all the risk to build the platform and get full FCA authorisation, we can fund our growing loan book with low-cost capital ensuring we can keep prices low for borrowers.

What were you doing before starting?

Whilst watching the classic Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life, O’Neill realised that if the latest technology and data tools were combined with the values represented in that film, a new type of consumer finance company could be created. A company which could start by fixing the broken payday market.

Harridge, having recently sold his share of award winning gift company GettingPersonal.co.uk to The Card Factory, wanted his next venture to solve a big problem.

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

We look out across the waterways of MediaCityUK to the new offices of the BBC, close to the heart of Manchester. The region has a great technological heritage and a large talent pool which is increasing all the time with more than 100,000 students studying at the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford.

As part of the Northern Powerhouse, financial technology (fintech) is a fast growing part of the local economy.

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