Artificial intelligence may be the future, but it cannot replace human creativity, Riga TechGirls

Riga, Latvia – Iveta Bruvele is the CEO and founder of Wandoo Finance Group — a Riga-based FinTech start-up focusing on consumer lending with operations spanning five markets. With more than eleven years of experience in a range of financial services companies and an educational background in IT Iveta is set to take on the big names in the lending industry.

Evita: Iveta, please tell us what Wandoo finance is?

Iveta: Wandoo Finance started as an idea two years ago to create a better lending product for the Georgian market. At the time the market was saturated with overcomplicated look alike products that offered an overall poor user experience. Everyone thought I was a bit crazy to enter this market with so many companies doing similar things. But in the end, we prevailed and succeeded to carve out a share in this crowded market. From then on, that share has grown to include operations in Spain, Poland, Denmark and Russia.

The other part of Wandoo is our loan marketplace platform Swaper. Swaper allows investors from all over Europe to invest in loans and earn from 12% a year. To date we have more than 1000 active investors on the platform with cumulative investment volume reaching 26 million euros.

Evita: Can you tell a bit more about technology behind your business processes? There are many companies issuing loans, but they are not FinTech firms.

Iveta: I think the word “FinTech” is a bit overused nowadays and sometimes forces us to think of financial services as either being these old dinosaurs or these young and agile FinTechs. The, perhaps, sometimes forgotten truth is that every one of these big legacy banks or insurers runs on financial technology. Without it, our daily lives would be quite impossible.

I think what separates us and similar companies from the dinosaurs is speed, agility and the ability to adopt new technology quickly. We are not bogged down by legacy IT systems, bureaucratic governance models or hierarchical management.

Specifically, talking about Wandoo our core advantage is our ability to accumulate, analyse and use data to evaluate or, as we in the industry call it, “score” borrowers to make lending decisions. All lending companies have scoring systems, but these are usually based on linear models that rely on historical data. The idea is that with enough historic data you can with a certain degree of accuracy predict how a specific category of consumers will behave. The problem with this model is that you need a lot of historic data. When you enter a new market, you do not have this data and you can only acquire it by trying, failing and constantly adjusting the model. At Wandoo we employ something called a machine learning model that, as the name suggests, learns as new data points are being added to the system. The more data we can feed into the system the better the model becomes. To make this work we employ a team of talented developers and data wizards to constantly tune the system.

Evita: How did you design it? How did you start?

Iveta: The key thing for our success has been finding the right people. While our goal is to automate as much of the credit scoring as possible, someone needs to build the models, to build the systems and to understand the data coming out of these systems. Artificial intelligence (which is really all about automation) may be the future, but it cannot replace human creativity.

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Evita Lune is a Partner who drives the firm’s Global Digital Economy. She has completed over 50 senior level assignments in 29 countries within this practice, out of her total portfolio of over 600 assignments. Ms. Lune works extensively with FinTech clients from the Baltic sea region (Scandinavia, Baltics, Poland) and supports their global expansion plans in all continents by providing effective executive search solutions. As a team leader and regional director, she manages Pedersen & Partners teams in Poland, Baltics and Belarus. Her previous experience includes three years with the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga as the Executive MBA Program Director and six years with Shell in international and regional marketing management functions in Riga, Budapest, and Brussels.

Ms. Lune was a speaker at the CEE FutureTech congress in Warsaw - one of the most important business summits in Central and Eastern Europe and participated in Blockchain Pre-Accelerator Program at University of Latvia. She is also a blogger for RigaTechGirls and a Jury Member of CEE Capital Markets and FinTech Awards. Ms. Lune was recognized by Forbes as one of the top 25 most influential women in Latvia for two years in a row.

Pedersen & Partners is a leading international Executive Search firm. We operate 56 wholly owned offices in 52 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Our values Trust, Relationship and Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives.

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