Meet our Gathr team: Q&A with Mike & Caleb

by | Fintech Trends Series

We were frustrated with the drop off rates in the application process, so what did our Finch team do? We decided to build our own digital onboarding solution that can be used by our partners for a slick tech process. Since launching Gathr in the tail of 2021, we successfully power the digital document collection processes for a big bank, 2 telecoms, a credit bureau, some of the larger real estate companies, POS companies, and more. Our team have been working hard to develop a seamless solution, so we thought they’d be the best people to explain how we are making our product even better. If you’ve booked a demo session or heard about our product, you’re bound to meet our lekker Gathr guys – Michael Bowren and Caleb Swanepoel.  

Michael (better known as Mike by his colleagues) is co-founder of Finch Technologies and heads up the Gathr sales team, while Caleb is our Senior Growth Manager. Let’s dive right in and ask our guys a couple of questions about this kickass solution that is taking SA by storm.  

Why did Finch Technologies build Gathr? 

Mike: We started off with a marketplace which was driven by conversion rates, but we quickly realised there was a 60% drop off because of document collection, and there were no financial focused document collectors in South Africa.  

Caleb: We built Gathr because we saw that many businesses, including our own, were struggling with onboarding customers efficiently. Onboarding is the first step in the customer journey. If this isn’t fast, easy and attractive you have lost your customer. 

What is Gathr in a nutshell?  

Caleb: Gathr is a digital tool for businesses to onboard, verify and assess the affordability of customers (individuals or businesses) at scale using API endpoints. In essence it’s a tool used for digital document collection and reading. 

Please can you tell us about some of the challenges Gathr solves?  

Mike: A main challenge Gathr solves is that it removes human errors in calculations. Additionally, it reduces the time taken previously to collect and read documents, and because of our slick UX, it reduces the drop off in the document collection process. If the solution is fully integrated, it will remove the need for a physical branch or store in many cases. There is no need for printing documents, our solution is entirely paperless.  

Caleb:  Gathr not only enhances the customer’s experience with smoother and faster customer journey, but it also reduces the operational costs, with little or no back office required to manually complete verifications. Our digital KYC solution is easily scalable and adaptable to handle a large volume of customer verifications. They can be integrated into existing systems and workflows, allowing tech companies to efficiently manage increased demand without compromising compliance or customer experience.  

What kind of businesses and industries would use Gathr?  

Caleb & Mike: Any business that needs to onboard customers, deal with financial transactions, or that needs compliance with regulatory requirements. These industries could include: the financial sector i.e., financial institutions or Fintech companies that need to do KYC checks, and don’t have the ready-built technology needed to verify customers identities and assess risks. E-commerce platforms and online marketplaces that that facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers often require KYC checks. Implementing KYC technology helps these platforms authenticate seller identities, mitigate fraud risks, and provide a secure environment for users. Another sector that could benefit from a solution like Gathr are sharing economy platforms. These are companies operating in the sharing economy, such as ridesharing, home-sharing, and peer-to-peer lending platforms, rely on trust and safety between participants. KYC technology helps verify the identities of users, build trust, and ensure compliance with local regulations. Lastly, highly regulated industries such as healthcare, telecommunications, energy, and insurance may require KYC processes to comply with industry-specific regulations and ensure the security of customer data. 

Why is Gathr so unique? 

Mike: Besides it being a digital first, Gathr is built with a focus on fraud, affordability and verification. Our marketplace has big scale, and we’ve leveraged this to create competitive pricing structures. Additionally, we have a pretty epic technical accounts team, that are passionate about problem-solving.  

What excites you most about working on a product like Gathr? 

Mike: There is such a market fit for Gathr at the moment. Companies are either going to build, outsource or acquire these capabilities within the next 3 years.  

Caleb: For me it’s the various industry players and businesses I get to meet in the tech diaspora. Gathr’s versatility means you get to help a bank today, offer a slicker lending product, and the next day we are helping one of the best health and wellness platforms in South Africa onboard its gym members with a paperless solution. It’s exciting, rewarding and everchanging.  

How is Gathr contributing to the Open Banking ecosystem? 

Mike: A business that is looking to incorporate an open API system will be after financial information on a customer, they’ll be looking to verify that customer and their home address, as well as do a fraud check. Gathr is one solution that perhaps covers a couple of these requirements, for example off one bank statement Gathr can perform affordability, address verification, bank account verification and do a fraud check. So essentially you don’t need to ask multiple questions or make multiple integrations. Using one bank statement, we can perform a suite of checks. Our Gathr technology is modular which allows assists the Open Banking thinking.  

Caleb: Gathr can and will add value to the Open Banking ecosystem in South Africa. As Fintechs scale and start to work more closely with the big banks, issuers and regulators, Gathr helps establish trust, security, and compliance in the ecosystem. We want to ensure that customer data is protected, only authorized entities have access, and regulatory requirements are met, thereby fostering the growth and adoption of Open Banking while maintaining customer confidence and privacy. 

Finally, why are you passionate about the Fintech sector in South Africa?  

Mike: South Africa is often seen as the gateway into Africa, and our continent’s banking sector is still fairly untapped. With a massive market size and one of the most stable banking ecosystems, the timing is perfect in terms of digitising banking solutions. As a Fintech solution provider our aim is not only to build innovative products but it’s also to make sure we are always powering financial access in Africa.  

Caleb:  The Fintech sector in South Africa has the potential to really impact the unbanked market and the informal trade sector. Fintech also has a large impact on other tech sectors as an enabler to offer VAS/VAPS and financial products. The fintech sector also has an impact across other tech sectors because it is an enabler. If you are selling a product on a digital platform fintech will form part of your process. Therefore, Fintech becomes an embedded need/requirement across multiple sectors. It’s a vital ‘organ’ in the tech ecosystem.