Peer-to-peer business lender launched new digital platform in just five weeks
The firm based in South West England aims to take traditional lending and borrowing into the digital age by matching local business owners with local investors, bypassing the banks and City institutions. With traditional banks declining an increasing number of business loans each quarter, Folk2Folk offers a genuine alternative to traditional financial services. With a personal approach, the company aims to help local businesses access the right finance for their needs and at the same time enable investors to make a low-risk return.
Formed in 2013, this new breed of lender isn’t burdened by legacy systems like many other financial institutions and has embraced cloud technology from the start – allowing it to quickly scale and compete with the big players. Its lending to date stands at over £120 million with a target of providing over £1 billion of finance to UK businesses by 2020. Technology lies at the heart of this goal, as it allows the company to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and business owners by delivering a personal touch – anytime, anywhere on any device.
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Karl Straw, IT Director at Folk2Folk says:“We were sold on the benefits of cloud, but didn’t want to set up the solution ourselves because it would have taken focus away from growth which is a key priority for us. That’s why we chose to work with Rackspace, they manage our solution so we can keep on innovating without being held back by legacy systems. With Microsoft’s infrastructure and Rackspace’s team of experts, we’re growing faster than even our most optimistic projections had forecast.”
Investing in Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure has allowed Folk2Folk the flexibility, scalability and security needed to continue growing, without the need to constantly expand its in-house IT team. Setting the platform up independently would have required the lender to build its own physical infrastructure, employing a whole new team and incurring around £250,000 in costs.
After first calling Rackspace, the newly architected solution took just five weeks to go live. Since then, the infrastructure has gone through three significant iterations to optimise performance. Even now, changes are still being made thanks to the platform’s flexibility plus the regular feedback and suggestions for improvement provided by Rackspace.
Darren Norfolk, MD of Rackspace UK said: “The Folk2Folk story is a great example of how the cloud is helping young companies to disrupt industries and compete with larger, more established players. The company enjoys the benefits of cloud technology to drive growth, but it’s important not to let the responsibility of maintaining the infrastructure divert attention away from this and other business priorities. Therefore, we’re glad that Folk2Folk chose us as the reliable, technology agnostic experts that will enable it to focus on pushing the business forward.”
Folk2Folk is now planning to triple its branch network by 2018 as well as putting in place the foundations to keep innovating, growing its product set and expanding its peer-to-peer markets – which is all powered by technology. With 24x7x365 support from Rackspace, the lender is able to spot and rectify any issues immediately, minimising costly downtime.
Folk2Folk uses Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure, which allows companies to speed up deployment of Azure, reduce costs and optimise performance. Rackspace has over 250 Microsoft-certified professionals worldwide which means Folk2Folk has access to deep expertise in Microsoft-cloud technology to help them simplify adoption, evaluate risk and manage operations across platforms. As a financial services organisation, compliance is important for Folk2Folk. Working with Rackspace, the lender is able to address Financial Conduct Authority security requirements which help keep customer data secure.