Australian small business lender Prospa has made a strong start in its launch into the New Zealand market which its estimates could be worth in excess of $4 billion a year.
The ASX-listed company, which kicked off a pilot in New Zealand in August last year, said it had loaned $24 million to New Zealand small businesses in the 11 months to June 30, in its first results announcement as a listed company today.
The company revealed proforma earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of A$6.8m ($7.2m), ahead of its prospectus forecast of A$6.1m.
Across Australia and New Zealand its loan book grew nearly 37 per cent to A$501.7m up from A$367.3m.
While its revenue rose 31 per cent to A$136.4m. Prospa declared an after tax loss of A$24.7m which included a one-off cost of $22.3m for its initial public offer and fair value adjustments on convertible notes which were converted to ordinary shares at the IPO.
Beau Bertoli, co-founder and joint CEO of Prospa, said it continued to see a structural shift towards online small business lending.
"Our customer numbers have grown 58 per cent on the prior year, and this demand, plus the strong growth in New Zealand, demonstrates we're providing a much needed service to small business owners."
Bertoli said it didn't officially launch into New Zealand until March after running its pilot and the growth had been above its expectations.
During its pilot phase in August 2018 it lent $1m in its first month - a point which took 14 months to get to in its Australian business.
The company said it had 700 New Zealand customers as of June 30 with an average loan size of approximately $27,000 and average loan term of 13 months.
Its New Zealand customer base was spread across a range of industry sectors including hospitality, retail, professional services and building and trade.
Greg Moshal, co-founder and joint CEO of Prospa, said the New Zealand market was similar to Australia's in that the capital needs of small businesses were under served.
"We have found there was pent up demand."
Bertoli said while it had initially trialled the business in Auckland it was now lending across the country.
Moshal said it looked closely at where the business was coming from and found it wasn't taking business off the banks as they were not servicing that space but were disrupting loans typically made by friends and family.
"Which is something small businesses don't want to be doing."
Moshal said small businesses didn't have chief financial officers which meant they often didn't have the time to go through the loan application processes required by the banks.
Its research had shown small businesses were largely under serviced in New Zealand but its biggest challenge was getting its name known to the market.
Moshal said while it was keeping a close eye on the economic slow-down being seen across developed countries it was seeing resilience in the small business sector.
Bertoli said even if the economy tightened it anticipated that would see tighter lending at the banks which would create more opportunities for Prospa.
Since its balance date Prospa said it had established its first New Zealand warehouse funding facility for $45m through gaining the backing of an institutional investor.
"This facility will allow Prospa to keep expanding rapidly into the New Zealand market and enabled the repatriation of $6m in equity to be reinvested in the core business and new products," the company said in its statement.
Prospa's shares rose A1c to A$4.45 this morning.