We sat down with Robert Schuijff, CEO of etika, to discuss what is so special about etika and what being ethical means to him personally. And how important the ‘tech’ part is in Fintech.
What can you tell me about etika?
etika was founded in 2012 by a group of tech entrepreneurs, that wanted to make fairer finance accessible to more people globally.
We’re a privately-owned company and first and foremost, we are here to make a positive difference in the world of finance. Unlike many other financial institutions whose primary focus is on creating profit and shareholder value.
We deliver fair and flexible financial products, in a socially responsible way, to customers and retailers.
The name etika means ‘ethical’ in several languages and that’s exactly what we want to bring to finance—a responsible and fair approach to lending money. We’re different to other lenders because we put the financial wellbeing of our customers first.
What does it mean to be ethical in finance?
I believe that being ethical needs to permeate your business, it can’t be a hollow marketing gimmick. We strive to be truthful, fair and honest when we deal with customers, retailers, partners, authorities and employees. There is no grey area. You’re either ethical or you’re not.
We will always aim to be transparent with our customers and business partners. We do not believe in hidden terms and conditions or overcomplicating things. We say it as it is and do as we say.
And we actively seek out ethical business partners that treat their suppliers, customers, employees and business partners with the same respect and fairness we would.
What does being ethical mean to you personally?
Being honest and transparent makes life easier. Once your focus is on treating customers and retailers honestly and equally, rather than focusing on short term gains, it simplifies things. You are no longer spending time and energy on trying to find shortcuts, instead it allows you to focus on delivering true long-term value.
You describe etika as a Fintech. How important is the technical side to the business?
At etika we believe that our technology is key to establishing both our ethical credentials as well as our competitive advantage. In-house development and control over the key components of our platform enable us to move fast and provide our customers and users with the best possible products, experiences and services.
User experience is a key driver of our ongoing development. And we can customise solutions where required for our customers, like we did for AIA Vitality, for example. Our system allows AIA to co-contribute to the loans of their members.
We are currently doing a lot of work on our AI and Machine Learning to improve our lending metrics, both ensuring that our customers don’t overextend themselves financially as well as giving access to finance to those that would ordinarily miss out. Through this automation and optimisation, we can generate significant efficiencies which we will pass on to our customers.
How would you describe the etika team?
Everyone who works for etika is focused on our core values. And they understand that with etika you sign up for a marathon not a sprint – we’re in it for the long haul. We all possess our own brand of strength and confidence. And have an influence on the direction and results of the company. I believe that diversity of opinions and personalities is important. No one here fears giving their opinion!
Where is etika going?
Our objective is to provide fairer finance, globally. We will achieve this by focusing on our core strengths and servicing our customers and partners as best we can.