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The Tomorrow of Borrow | Dmitry Voronenko of TurnKey Lender

In the 21st century, businesses across the globe, from developing nations to industrialized Western countries, have come to depend on fast access to capital—but the infrastructure is often still mired in the clunky bank models of the past.

Our guest on this edition of UpTech Report, Dmitry Voronenko, sought to change that with his company, TurnKey Lender. Dmitry discusses planning around the complexities of international politics, and how he broke conventional wisdom by quickly expanding into several global markets.


Dmitry Voronenko is CEO at TurnKey Lender, lending automation company which helps its customers in 28 countries to reduce credit risk, streamline loan origination and improve portfolio yields. He co-founded TurnKey Lender with a vision to bring the ease-of-use, affordability, and efficiency to the world of lending digitalization, thus lowering the technology barrier for lending institutions and facilitating financial inclusion in the world.

As CEO, Dmitry drives company strategy, expansion into new markets, technology development and supervises constant improvement of the company’s operations across the global offices in Singapore, USA, Malaysia, Ukraine, Philippines, and Belgium.

In 2016, TurnKey Lender received MAS Fintech Award. In 2018, TurnKey Lender was featured in Business Review magazine as one of hottest Singapore startups. In 2019 TurnKey lender won prestigious Frost & Sullivan APAC Best Practices Award.

Prior to founding TurnKey Lender, Dmitry was the CEO and founder of Scorto for 10 years, a credit risk management and decision management solutions company that successfully performed projects for the World Bank, Daimler Financial Services, Société Générale, Sumitomo and LG. 

Earlier in his career, Dmitry was the CEO and founder of Alyuda Research, a startup developed data mining and artificial neural network software for leading research organizations, including Oxford University, Drone Aerospace Systems, MIT, NUS and corporate labs of Fortune100 companies, including Microsoft, Boeing Satellite Systems, Pfizer and Citibank.

Dmitry has more than 18 years of experience in fintech, credit risk management and lending. He is the author of 11 articles published in leading financial and research magazines in the US and Europe. 

In 2019 Dmitry was recognized among TOP10 FinTech Leaders by Singapore FinTech Association as well as listed by Top 25 Leaders in Lending by Canadian Lenders Association. Dmitry has spoken at major conferences in Europe, Latin America, and South East Asia such as Retail Credit Risk, The Next Generation Lending in Asia, Score, TechnoBank, Innovfest Unbound, and others. He has also been featured on Bloomberg TV.

Dmitry graduated with Honors in Computer Science from the Kharkiv Technical University of Radio-electronics and obtained his Ph.D. from Kharkiv Polytechnic University on Artificial Intelligence in automated control systems.​

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Alexander Ferguson 0:00
In the 21st century, businesses across the globe from developing nations to industrialized Western countries have come to depend on fast access to capital. But the infrastructure is often still mired in the clunky bank models of the past. Our guest on this edition of UpTech Report, Dmitry Voronenko, co sought to change that with his company Turnkey Lender, Dimitry discusses planning around the complexities of international politics, and how he broke conventional wisdom by quickly expanding into several global markets. Thank you so much, Dimitry, for joining us. I’m excited to learn how turnkey lender you started this business how, how got started the focus that you have with it of solving a unique problem, and also how are you innovating as an entrepreneur? To start us off? What year did turnkey lender begin? And how did you start the journey with it?

Dmitry Voronenko 0:54
So it is started in 2014. When me and my co founder LM Ivanka, we joined our forces. And we decided to start and bring this technology to the market. We saw these both innovative and business opportunity from two different angles. So sure, previous startup was plugging score, it was scoring engine for micro finance. It was usually scoring engine without all the other bells and whistles, a very good one. And she had customers in Philippines and Latin America, in Africa, what she saw is that these smaller lenders, they require end to end solution. So they require a not only scoring engine, because quite often they don’t have something where to plug this scoring engine, a lot of other stuff is still you know, not automated on paper or in Excel and stuff like that. In my business quarter, I have done scoring engines for banks, for larger financial institutions. And what I saw, the banks are so slow, they act like you know, Elephanta these new lending wave was already starting, we saw this Lending Club cabbage, all new kinds of companies. And we even saw Ireland saw from my customers that he know what you’ve been because they are leaving banks to start this kind of startups. And some of the trend some of them yeah, some of them. It’s not it’s not all of them, but those who have intrapreneurship in their culture who saw this opportunity, some of them be and both me and Elena, we saw that this huge engine wave it will be so huge. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s like ecommerce 10 years ago,

Alexander Ferguson 2:55
so you’re providing both the infrastructure of the credit scoring or ranking along with the lending itself. The funds

Dmitry Voronenko 3:03
Yes, yes. So we that is why we chose to lender chunky means like chunky and you LM Yep, I got it and you you become a lender. So we

Alexander Ferguson 3:11
focused on developing countries. Like Uganda and Latin America,

Dmitry Voronenko 3:18
we have two main focuses actually, we started from the UK. This was our main market and our goal was like after UK we will go to the United States. But then Brexit spoiled everything, you know, our castle, but we got several customers there. But you know, almost everybody was like wait and what will happen when Brexit will be there. Nobody expected this Brexit almost nobody expected and stuff like that. So we were forced to So to change our plans, and we actually selected between United States and Singapore where to move our headquarter and since Elena is US citizen and she done two projects in Silicon Valley. So, we initially thought we will go there, but then we visited also Singapore, we saw the growth rate so yeah, United States is the biggest market, but still in Southeast Asia, those times the growth was like 300% And plus it was more or less known market for me and for her also and we decided okay, we will go where growth is and we move to Singapore plus you can sell in the United States remotely because very often people are very business driven, you have technology and they compare technologies they buy in Asia, you cannot sell remotely still you need to meet people and we decided okay this way as a startup we need to focus but we this way we will not. We will not you know leave the US market. We will just do it remotely but we will earn Southeast Asian markets. So we have right now two main markets Southeast Asia, and the United States and Canada. We still have customers in Europe, in France, UK. Norway, Sweden, Spain, Poland. But but this is not such a big market for us we think it will follow right now United States bigger and bigger and bigger market for us because this trend of when non lending institutions start lending is just start to grow, grow and grow. And we have more and more companies from different industries that actually enjoy having technology that we created. And this actually, you know, energizes us and we believe that then it will be UK, Europe, and then it will go to to countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and then it actually goes around the globe. So this is our vision right now.

Alexander Ferguson 5:43
I love both the where you been the the difficulties along with Brexit, you can’t things you can’t control, but you still got your vision of of the direction and where you’re where you’re heading for your current spot where you are right now, how many customers or clients are on using your platform on a regular basis. I imagine once they’re on there, the idea is that they would be using it on a regular basis, correct?

Dmitry Voronenko 6:04
Yeah. So initially, we sold licenses to bootstrap to get more money in advance. But then after getting our first institutional round, we started to sell only SAS. So we have 110 customers right now 50 of them your initial customers who licensed customers and 50 of them right now on our platform. Nice. And around turn we are we are still in setup process. So in a month or so they will be online. So this is roughly the number here

Alexander Ferguson 6:36
and you start a bootstrapped, which is that’s a lot of fun. And then you recently got some VC funding as well.

Dmitry Voronenko 6:42
Yeah, we got already two institutional rounds, first institutional round with God in summer 2017. We got it from vertex ventures. This is very well known venture company in Southeast Asia. So this is VC arm of Temasek, Temasek Holdings is sovereign fund of Singapore. So vertex, they have some money from Temasek. And they have a lot of other LPs, including banks Corporation stock, like, they’re very known, because they are one of the oldest, and they are quite good in b2b. And really, really big companies, I don’t know if you’ve thought about grep. So grep is a competitor of Uber, this is the company so who was able to actually compete with Uber and even acquire Uber, for example, in Singapore, and actually, you know, conquer the market and, you know, push Uber out of the countries, because they enjoyed, you know, they already knew the business model, they enjoyed it, but they were more successful locally. And this these are probably the most famous company were vertex investor all the other companies they probably less known in United States probably pad snaps and some others are known but not as big because grab is a big name. Right now it’s multi billion company, only Toyota invested 1 billion in them. And it’s a big big name here in this part of the world,

Alexander Ferguson 8:07
it’s probably nice to have also their backing of the connections they have and other businesses that they can maybe funding

Dmitry Voronenko 8:15
we yeah, we are very lucky with them, they are very thorough due diligence was very, you know, accurate and very, very diligent and very, you know, precise for every details, but we love it because they gave us a lot of advice. They actually very, you know, very reasonable they, you know, sometimes investors what I saw, they, they talk you know, only or they just push and talk about numbers, these people they understand vision, they understand ups and downs and they’re always helpful at the same time they constantly look on operational characteristics and they help us so, how to improve how to do better

Alexander Ferguson 8:58
I love the fact that you have the dual institution rounds we have different perspectives both in that to keep the trajectory moving forward and already planning then the next one this the technology and aligning technology that you have obviously being your your differentiator describe a little bit more to me, how does it work and how is it different from anything else out there?

Dmitry Voronenko 9:21
Yeah, so there are two differences if you compare us to any other lending software provider so we have to explain probably it’s in a lay man rules we will like a smart house so like a smartphone so other companies they like Nokia they think smartphone is a you know mobile phone with a couple of Java applications. While we bring it as a totally new concepts or smart should be everywhere intelligence everywhere or new level of intelligence is not just AI in credit scoring and that’s it. What we see we see this business as a as a smart house that constantly monitors everything, how how fast you type your name, when you fill in application, how many times he visited your borrower portal, all the other stuff. And by doing this, we actually recommend lender what is the next best step to do, or probably they can reduce interest rates because this is less and less risky customer for them and they can offer some upsells or for cross sales, or even for collections, we do not make them chase customers that have some free five days somebody for example, we calculate self cure score. And this means for example, within the next five days, customer will cure themselves why ruining relationships, sending like harsh emails or stuff like that. And we have in many places, we have this stuff and this is what is different. So we see it as a smart lender, where artificial intelligence help again and plantains, Children Kids unified. We have this concept from the beginning we have this concept of unified land and it means unified with intelligence automation unified with intelligence, its unified through cycle like from their loan origination, scoring, underwriting, servicing collection, portfolio management next loan, so it’s unified, it’s unified with the market. So, by this we we also with artificial intelligence, we watch the market. So lender actually follows the market not not painting the market by you know, screwing up everything just to do the way they want, but they fill in the market and adapt and because what we feel more and more adaptability will be number one and time to market. I know what will be number one or number two, but time to market and adaptability because markets are changing so fast, you cannot just build a scorecard and use three years this scorecard for stuff like that you constantly adapt and this is unified lending because you are unified with the market.

Alexander Ferguson 11:55
Tell me a bit more about the partnerships or API connections and also like how is the backend lending like who are the those providing the actual funds for the lending does all that work?

Dmitry Voronenko 12:09
Yeah, I will start probably with the last question. So we know this is our vision that we will never lend ourselves. So we will be a technology provider only we actually white label our software for lenders. Again as I told non lenders that turnkey um can be lender yeah during the key without software, but we white label for them. So borrowers do not see turnkey lender, Branton Callender brand is b2b brand just for the for those businesses who will learn we white label for them and they can again it can be we have several beautiful people around us who use our software

Alexander Ferguson 12:47
as you realize this vision where then any business or lender can just start providing their own lending right to the customer in this platform can handle it to realize this vision what hurdles Do you see you’re going to have to overcome in order to make it happen?

Dmitry Voronenko 13:07
Yeah, so I see it first and foremost. It’s I don’t say it’s a hurdle but I see as as a big task. So and what we want to do and already preparing ourselves to do we need to bring more knowledge to people to train them to show them how easy it is probably even have a free trial so some other way are still thinking about it. And not only but but free trials will not solve it. Because we need to also additionally to this we need to educate we need to bring more knowledge more videos more more articles to show for example segment by segment we cannot sell you know in general let’s any business we can go to plastic surgery clinics and explain Look, these are our customers. After starting using our software. They don’t have seasonality at all before they have seasonality like these before Christmas, whatever on summer. But now no seasonality. These guys like merchants or fashion merchant they use our software now they have 30% More check every check raised 30% more so and we can we should explain all this because the main task I see people still see financing is a difficult business. So these are done by banks. And this is what we need to bring for them so people you know will not be shy to try. It’s not affordable to try they will not pay millions to try it’s just marry very very so they pay as they go. But they will will be hesitant this I see is the biggest one because technologically I don’t see any any obstacles.

Alexander Ferguson 14:41
You’re still in the probably the early adoption where folks who are fascinated with technology maybe they’re like Oh this is cool. But the early majority of folks that are de aren’t aware that it exists this possibilities technology I’m like still trying to I see now we’re all it comes together. I’m like Okay, great. That’s awesome. So it sounds like that’s the biggest hurdle to overcome is just making educating and making people aware that that this possibility and this concept exists and that they need to try it.

Dmitry Voronenko 15:11
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s true. But please know that simultaneously we have lenders as the customers, so we like, you know, running it. In two spheres. Yeah. Here lenders, digital lenders still still go with us. But here it started, much, much bigger way wave and it all will overcome and it will grow, but it will grow much more exponentially, and it will overcome them it. So this is some I’ve heard recently, an article that embed in Forbes magazine that embedded lending actually will eat and overcome ways, many to many degrees. Current FinTech, the current like FinTech and Fintech is a business model in itself. Its financing business model. Yeah. And embedded lending means you embed lending into any other business, and this will be really huge. And you can see that Amazon, Salesforce QuickBooks that started doing it, and sooner or later, any other at least midsize business will be doing.

Alexander Ferguson 16:11
Well, I’m excited to see this I see it, I’m excited to experience it as we move forward. For this future. Now for you personally, how how do you innovate? Where are you going to to keep up to date on the latest technology and trends and concepts? Are there any blogs, particular blogs that you go to or books that you’re reading right now or audio books that you’re listening to?

Dmitry Voronenko 16:35
Yeah, so actually, I constantly so I have this audible, I don’t have too much time to read, but audible when I go to your promo. So, I constantly look for recent books about AI and especially, you know, the future how how society will be, you know, will be you know, like books like live free 0.0 I have this book I recently you know, listen. So, this is how society will live together with AI, and depending on how strong AI will be, how smart AI will be with which speed it will develop. So, how to correctly organize society, so it will be benefit, benefit for society, still, people will be you know, in demand and the creativity will blossom. Everywhere. So this this is what if to tell about technological advances, for example, so I have this new letters, so I knew letters and of course, this was for turistic ones, like good swirl and stuff like that. I also read not not every day or even every week, but once in a while I’m like, Okay, what’s, what’s new is that, so that’s through and of course, my colleagues since I’ve been in this neural network sphere from 90s, late 90s. So I know pretty pretty many people saw I read these Hilton books when nobody read them because they’re awful to read to my mathematical Bishop. They say you know, this word Bibles for neural network developers just the first book comprehensive books and from this times I know many guys but mainly who did who did AI based scoring when it is started with SCORE X sexual experience acquired score X after this one and started so I know many guys who wrote the UN wrote the books about how to do AI by scoring stuff like that. It’s mainly communicating with them through social networks for emails when when when I listened some some things and I get understand some things before they even available, you know, so general crowd because you know, it starts in r&d labs usually and then it also invent published in papers, but you know, we communicate with each other ask him questions, what do you think about this and that, this is how I get it.

Alexander Ferguson 18:57
Well, thank you so much Dimitri, for for sharing your, your vision, where you guys are right now and the future of where you’re heading. I’m excited to see as it comes into reality. Thanks again for joining us. Where Can folks go to to learn more? And what’s a good first step for them to take?

Dmitry Voronenko 19:11
Please go to our website, please follow us on Twitter on LinkedIn. Yeah, we were also on Facebook but LinkedIn Twitter, we usually more active there. So and on our website, we post our blogs. So we have blog there. So please go there. We quite often, most probably not quite, but more or less often we speak on Finovate or some other conferences like this. I think video is usually you know, as a better way, it’s also better to see them to listen so please, you’re all welcome. Please visit please ask us questions whatever related to AI related to digital lending related to society. Together with AI, we will be glad to answer and

Alexander Ferguson 19:57
that concludes the audio version of this episode. Good to see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.

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