Harmoney will dual list on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges today (Thursday) after a capital raising that will allow it to further expand its Australian business and hire more staff to develop its product range.
The consumer lender raised A$92.5 million after receiving strong commitments from cornerstone investors giving the company a market capitalisation of A$353.2m.
Chief executive David Stevens said the level of interest had been really strong.
"We did the cornerstone process almost a month ago now and it was really well received.
"We have been able to really scale the business up to close half a billion [dollars]. We are quite a lot bigger that some of the others in this space."
The capital raise, which was done at A$3.50 a share, will see 26.2 per cent of the company floated while the remainder will stay in existing shareholders' hands.
The largest shareholder will be the trustee company of Harmoney founder Neil Roberts which will have an 18.4 per cent stake.
NZX-listed Heartland Group, Trade Me, and Australian private equity investor Kirwood Capital Partners will also remain shareholders.
Roberts founded Harmoney in 2013 as the first company to be a licensed peer-to-peer lender in New Zealand.
The company stopped using retail investors to fund its loans in April and has switched to using warehouse funding instead.
Stevens said it would run down its peer-to-peer funding over the next few years as it transitioned away from that model.
"It is a very important part of our heritage - it was how the business started - that time in the world peer-to-peer was a pretty popular way of financing - the challenge is as you become larger - the supply of funds becomes harder."
He said it was harder to get retail investors to fund higher risk loans which left the company with a mis-match between lenders and borrowers.
There was also the challenge of having to find potentially hundreds of lenders to fund each loan.
"We had to fractionalise down to $25 - if a customer had a $10k loan that was likely to have 400 investors. You can see as you get larger - you have to manage the technology around that well."
Stevens said now it was using warehouse funding it was able to have a single focus on the borrower.
"The experience now is making sure the customer - the borrower - has the best experience. We want all our resource going into that - rather than having to split the resource between borrowers and investors."
But its technology focus has stood it in good stead. Stevens said around two-thirds of its loans were processed without human interaction.
That meant it had been able to set up and expand its business into Australia with only two dedicated Australia staff.
A further 57 are based in Auckland at the company's head office in Newmarket.
It sees big potential for expansion into Australia where Stevens estimates the size of the consumer lending market is around $100 billion versus New Zealand's $15b.
It has already had early success in Australia. Stevens said in October last year it began spending around $700k to $800k per month on marketing which had spurred an average 10,000 accounts to be set up per month with the company.
"It just really proved the market out. You don't have to spend 10s of millions of dollars on above the line brand advertising to get the right people to come. That was quite encouraging for us."
The company pulled back on its marketing after February when Covid hit but Stevens said it had resumed the spend at around 70 to 80 per cent now.
Carrying out a capital raise and sharemarket listing in the middle of a pandemic has had its own challenges.
Stevens said it was the first time he had undertaken a capital raise without doing a single face to face presentation.
"Being able to do it on Zoom - if asked me a year ago I would have said people will never want to do it - they want to meet face to face - but everyone adapts. I was able to get through a lot more meetings in a shorter space of time."
Stevens said fortunately he also knew around half of the investors from a previous role at an ASX-listed company.
He said the listing would be an exciting moment for many staff who had been with the company from the beginning.
"It is huge for the team as they are all shareholders in the company. They are super excited by this opportunity. A lot have been with company from the start. For them to be able to see it grow from a small Kiwi company into a mid-sized Kiwi company and also into Australia. That is a massive achievement."
Stevens will be doing a virtual ringing of the bell on the ASX but will return to Australia at the end of this week to reunite with his young family.
They moved to New Zealand in January never imagining they would be trapped here by a global pandemic.
Stevens said he hoped to spend a couple of months back in Sydney allowing him to catch up with investors before coming back to Auckland next year.