One of the most tedious parts of getting a loan is gathering all the requirements. It is a tedious and time-consuming process that involves pencil-pushing from the applicant, their employer, and the concerned financial institution or vendor. Smile API is a digital platform that fast tracks the process by facilitating the application approval (or rejection) process and reducing the downtime to mere seconds. This results in significant value for (1.) those who need to secure financial and/or related services; (2.) the employers who can recover operational time lost to the cumbersome paper trail; and (3.) for the banks and financial institutions which can facilitate and secure more transactions in less time.
During the recent company launch, Smile API CEO Jerome Eger explained the all-too-common situation that bogs down businesses: “We did a survey and found that on the average, for every 100 employees in any given company, there are three to five requests for certificates of employment per week. A person in HR handles this, and it takes company time that can be better used for other business matters. While they need to do this, this process has no value for the employers.” Eger added, “What we offer becomes not just a win but a win-win-win solution for businesses, their employees, and mostly for third-party providers like banks, financial institutions, and other vendors whose services are made more accessible to potential customers.”
To enjoy the benefits of the service, individuals first have to register through the Smile-API-using companies they regularly deal with or interact with. Then they agree to transmit their encrypted employment data which then passes from their employer through Smile API to the bank or vendor in seconds, when they apply for loans, financing, deferred payment terms, employment, or financial services.
It is important to note that this is a one-time transaction. Smile API gets the encrypted data from the employer and passes it on to the institution or the vendor. It does not hold on to the data afterward. This process happens in seconds and saves many manhours for everyone involved.
Smile API’s platform was conceived from a simple, yet important truth that affects virtually everyone, especially the workforce, without their knowing it. People can never fully control their personal and employee data. Their employment data—the most relevant to financial institutions, vendors, or even potential new employers—will always need to be obtained from and verified by third parties through documentation, like certificates of employment, payslips, proofs of billing, bank statements, credit card statements, or even academic transcripts of records.
To escape this cycle of inefficiency, Eger asserts that the individual must realize that “having access to data is a basic right. Your data is very important, as data is the oil of the 21st century. The difference is: then few people had oil, now, everyone has data.” In contrast, he adds, “Smile API empowers people to have their own data, and to use that data for their own good.”
Still relatively new, Smile API aims to provide a service unlike any in the country. The company recently received funding from two established fintech investors: Credit Ease, a diversified conglomerate with a global footprint; and Plug and Play Singapore, a global venture capital firm with a strong regional presence.
Kevin Aok, Head of Strategic Investment and M&A from Credit Ease, explains why Smile API is eyeing the Philippines first: “We are looking for markets with a higher potential growth rate. Many Filipinos have a stable income and the Philippines is largely English-speaking.“
Ziheng Li, Senior Ventures Analyst at Plug and Play Singapore shares why Smile API is the right API for the region at this time: “Unlike other global markets such as the US and China, where employer data APIs are common, there is no API or service similar to Smile API in the region.“
As early as now, Smile API is already forming alliances in the Philippines with like-minded innovators. One such partner is Johanne Lim, the CEO of MoveForward Inc. (MFI), an online buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) provider for the unbanked in the country. “With the Philippines becoming more of a gig and freelancer economy, the problem is that we have no centralized system in the country that provides reliable employment information. With Smile API, we are keen to gain an understanding of our new market,” said Lim.
In closing, Eger said “Smile API is all about empowerment and financial inclusion, especially for those who have to suffer through seemingly endless red tape. Our solutions relieve you of the stress of application and enable you to achieve your goals, personal and professional. We are very excited to see how innovative companies in fintech and even beyond, build on the infrastructure we are developing at Smile API in the future.”