By @SimonCocking

Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

URICA injects cash into supply chains to empower businesses of all sizes to pay and get paid on the terms of trade they want.

How are you different?

URICA is an online supply chain funding network. It was conceived by a group of European business people in strategic collaboration with world leading financial institutions. Designed from the ground up, it re-imagines how business payments should work to address once and for all the problem of late payment within SME supply chains.

Banks offer supply chain finance, but limit its scope to investment grade companies. URICA makes it available to the whole supply chain, whereas for smaller business the banks will only offer invoice financing.

We buy invoices without recourse: Unlike other invoice finance facilities who lend against invoices, we buy invoices without recourse which means that there is no debt for the supplier.

We focus on customer’s financial strength: We assess your customer’s financial strength, confidentially evaluating them and allocating credit against each. This means that suppliers of almost all sizes and strengths can access early payment of their invoices from URICA

No personal guarantees: We eliminated the need for personal guarantees, security or time consuming complex paperwork forever. We only require customer’s confirmation that the invoices are in order, as agreed with the supplier

We have global coverage: The customers can be in the UK or overseas, enabling export sales to be funded in exactly the same way

Why will the company / product do well?

Business payments are governed by centuries old conventions. Larger businesses expect longer payment terms. Their target is to remain cash flow neutral. Smaller businesses want shorter terms. Growth pushes them to go cash flow negative. Many then have only two options – go into debt, or turn away business.

The current system disadvantages smaller businesses that are in effect banking their customers. Small businesses are the largest net providers of credit into the global economy, and yet they are the engine-room of growth in GDP, jobs and fiscal revenues.

If everyone paid on time, the problem would go away. There would be more cash in the economy fueling growth and making supply chains more sustainable. But, understandably, there is an inherent tension between suppliers who want early payment and customers who want longer payment terms. URICA now provides a simple solution that removes this payment tension and lets everyone pay and get paid on the terms they want.

URICA offers a solution: high-end yet easy-to-use technology that allows both parties to do business on the terms they want.

Where are you based?

There is an international team brought from all over Europe based in London, but the product defies borders. Using URICA you can trade with ease in over 50 countries around the globe as though it were domestic business. In France, URICA carries the Finance Innovation Label awarded to the few Fintech businesses that have the potential for global impact. With the launch of our euro fund in October 2016 we have built out our international team, with Patrice Coulon, ex-Director General of GE Capital spearheading the platform’s European expansion.

When was the company launched?

URICA launched in UK in April 2014. It has just opened a European fund, focusing first in France but building out to Germany and further.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

URICA and Euler Hermes entered into partnership on 12th September to launch a new product into the market which disrupts not only the financial but also the credit insurance markets to ultimately change the face of the business landscape forever.

To expand its offer on the French market, URICA chose to partner with Euler Hermes France, which will analyse the quality of invoices to finance, recover unpaid debts and guarantee against the risk of default. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of business failures increased by almost 25% in France. A trend reversal seems to be confirmed, but with 60,000 failures set in 2016 in France and defaults rising in emerging countries (China +20%, Brazil +22%) it is essential that companies protect their development and their cash from the risk of default.

Eric Lenoir, President of the Executive Committee of Euler Hermes France, said: “This partnership represents a double milestone for our digital strategy development and assistance to businesses. It is the first contract produced by our new entity – EH Digital Agency – which offers companies like URICA particularly innovative solutions through a new API [application programming interface]: a single invoice cover, with real time credit decisions and a price that also adjusts in real time according to the quality of the debt.”

Finance Innovation Award

URICA has been selected to become a part of Finance Innovation, an international cluster of financial and academic organisations which aims to increase employment, the growth of SMEs, and the market share of the financial industry in Europe.  Projects awarded the official Finance Innovation Label have to demonstrate the following:

  • Innovation, in particular in terms of techniques employed, models implemented, financing needs treated, customer segments addressed or risks covered.
  • Strategic impact for the financial industry: new products or new customers, international edge, employment development, and, more generally, contribution to the cluster.
  • Credibility: adequate competence among partners, the project’s technical feasibility and financial viability.

Of the 100 applicants only 7 were awarded the official Finance Innovation Label, URICA was one of them.

COBCOE Connects

URICA has recently announced a partnership with COBCOE Connects which uses the latest technology to match business contacts within a trusted environment. The platform hosts networks of chambers of commerce, trade associations and other respected organisations. The service also makes businesses visible to those looking for their products or services via the platform, providing companies with a new source of strong sales leads.

Lindsay Whitelaw, Chairman and Founder of URICA: “URICA is excited to be a Founding Partner of COBCOE Connects. At a time of increasing concern around the preservation and growth of the complex supply networks that support trade throughout Europe, this platform digitises the critical export infrastructure needed by pan-European business.

“URICA’s mission fully aligns with the purpose of COBCOE Connects to get business trading on better terms. We are pleased to back the platform with our online global supply chain funding network, which already helps businesses improve the way they make and receive payments in the UK and overseas.”

What type of people are you trying to attract to your product?

It’s hard to imagine a person that URICA couldn’t help in some way, whether directly or indirectly. If a business is using URICA, they are choosing to take care of their cash flows and working capital, or look after their suppliers, and that has a ripple effect into the wider economy.

Tell us about your team?

Based in London, URICA has brought together young entrepreneurs and leading European business people to create a personable FinTech company that solves a real problem. It’s changing the way businesses pay and are paid.

In addition to the team URICA has created a holistic alliance of partners ranging from global financial institutions to government bodies and trade associations.

  • Backed by the UK government via the British Business Bank, as part of its efforts to get cash flowing throughout supply chains
  • Funded by RSA, one of the world’s leading multinational quoted insurance groups.
  • Powered by big data from Euler Hermes, the world’s largest credit insurer
  • Endorsed by leading economists, trade ambassadors, Chambers of Commerce and
  • Partnered with global payment providers

What are your long term plans for your product / company?

We have found that the problem of late payment is not something solely found in the UK. More and more companies are seeking alternative solutions to complement and diversify funding sources. Optimising the need for working capital and cash preservation are strategic issues for businesses to sustain their activity, and the mobilisation of credit is increasingly used to obtain short-term financing. We recently expanded our offering into the French market, choosing to partner with Euler Hermes France. In this context, the partnership between URICA and Euler Hermes enables businesses to take back control of their cash flows and trade without risk and debt, fuelling trade in France and abroad. We’re looking to open up into the German, Spanish and Italian markets in the first half of 2017 if not before.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

I can’t live without my surface particularly notes; where I can handwrite comments onto any document. Being an online platform it means I can work from anywhere in the world immediately. I manage my life from it.

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

I would like to see a technology where payments can be made without touching a bank. This is one area where banks still have a monopoly. The Bank of England announced earlier this year to finally allow non-bank ‘payment service providers’ to hold accounts at the BoE, so that they can compete with existing banks. This will break the stranglehold that large UK banks have over the provision of payment accounts – and represents a step towards further changes that would limit the ability of banks to create money. It is a step in the right direction but we still have a long way to go.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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