Asto, the Santander “newcomer” developing financial tools for the self-employed and SMEs, is adding invoice financing to its accounting application.
The new offer, which potentially opens the so-called “microfinance” to a much broader commercial market, is on the heels of the Santander Group acquired by Albert, a billing and expenses application for the self-employed and micro-companies. Albert’s functionality has now been integrated into Asto, and Albert’s co-founder Ivo Weevers becomes Asto’s Director of Products and Design.
In a call, the Weevers described Asto’s mission as wanting to create a “complete stack of financial services for the self-employed. [and other micro businesses]. Financial services for SMEs are a “huge and fast-growing market,” he says, adding that Asto is innovating on the accounting side. [while] Other players in the market are working on the bank account side. “
“A lot of people are struggling to try to understand and access finances that could help them grow their business or get through certain periods in their business where the extra money would really help,” he tells me.
“What we are doing now is providing a comprehensive solution where we help people with their day-to-day accounting-related tasks and understanding where they are financially, but also connecting dots with a financial solution. This is what this new accounting solution is all about. microfinance ”.
In a demo of the new invoice finance feature, everything seems relatively straightforward. After registering with Asto and applying for the microfinance option, you are awarded an estimated credit amount from which can be drawn per financed invoice.
Invoices can simply be issued within the mobile app (or uploaded to it), which in itself is a huge time saver. Anyone who works independently knows that writing invoices and tracking them is a hassle. More is still waiting to be paid.
Next to each invoice there is a finance button. Clicking on it starts the microcredit, with a clear indication of how much you will have to pay and when. The term is based on the payment terms of your issued invoice with a little extra leeway if required.
“Microfinance used to be accessible only to the largest SMEs, the financially savvy people who have the time to go to a branch and talk to an account manager and wait a few weeks to make a decision,” explains Weevers.
“One of the innovative steps we are trying to take here is to make this option available to the smallest segment of the SME market, which is by far the largest and most underserved. By doing it on mobile, which is your favorite device, and also to do it in a matter of minutes, instead of having to wait for weeks, “he adds.
Meanwhile, I have been told that the credit itself is provided by Asto through the owner Santander. Notably, the invoice finance feature does not currently use transaction data from bank accounts that you have linked to the app. Instead, Asto is using a range of other data and information points that it provides when you first apply for the microfinance option.