Saldo Finance Plc, a Finnish fintech company creating responsible lending solutions, has announced plans to double its product development team in Vilnius over the next year. With 7 people already working in the company’s Vilnius office, Saldo also expects to start lending operations in Lithuania in January of next year.
Established in 2006, Saldo is an international loan provider, offering flexible loans for both consumers and businesses. The company has developed a fully automated lending system, with onboarding, credit decisions and money transfers all streamlined to the benefit of the end-user. “Saldo’s strength is our highly automated scoring system, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to assess customers’ solvency and guarantees an immediate and responsible loan decision,” Jarkko Mäensivu, CEO of Saldo Finance, explains. Full automation means Saldo can instantly provide personalized loan offers for individuals and SMEs alike.
Unlike many other startups with multiple funding rounds, Saldo became one of Finland’s largest fintechs by growing organically and funding expansion by reinvesting previous profits. With more than 500,000 customers and a €54 million annual turnover, Saldo successfully entered the Swedish consumer lending market in May, and expects to start lending operations in Lithuania in January 2021.
In Lithuania, Saldo will offer consumer loans first and then move to testing SME loans in the local business environment. “Lithuania offers great access to information that we use to conform our credit decisions, such as data from the Bank of Lithuania and the State Social Insurance Fund Board, as well as clear regulation for responsible lending and one of the lowest levels of private indebtedness in Europe,” says Jarkko Mäensivu. “This made Lithuania the obvious place for taking the next step in our growth strategy.”
Saldo’s decision comes at a time when borrowing from alternative lenders is on the rise. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an overall decline in the consumer lending market, consumers are using alternative financing solutions increasingly more often than borrowing from banks. And with approximately 35% of Lithuanian households expecting their expenditures to grow next year, Lithuania’s consumer lending market is poised for recovery.
In Lithuania, however, Saldo sees not only a new market, but also an excellent base for product development. “Lithuania’s tech talent, business-friendly environment and forward-thinking regulation is why we chose to double, at minimum, the number of our developers here,” Mäensivu explains. “The co-operative attitude of Invest Lithuania and other governmental agencies in assisting us with our expansion has also contributed to the decision to start operations in Lithuania.”
Saldo is looking to add PHP and .NET developers to their Lithuanian team that will be responsible for expanding the company’s product portfolio to support its international growth. In time, other opportunities for financial and technology professionals will arise as Saldo plans to continue expanding its team in the upcoming years. The company offers a relaxed, trust-based Nordic working culture and plenty of opportunities for skill development through working with state-of-the-art technology and software development tools.
Saldo also has a long and successful record of university partnerships, with senior employees teaching at both Finnish and Lithuanian universities. According to Petras Dubinskas, Saldo Finance UAB’s Chief Legal and Compliance Officer who teaches Investment Management and Financial Engineering courses at Vilnius University, the company is open to hiring graduating students for internships and entry-level jobs in the future. “We are also interested in discussing potential collaboration in R&D-related projects with Lithuanian universities,” he says.
“Saldo is an experienced fintech player, and the expansion of its team in Vilnius is an indicator of the city’s status as the region’s strongest fintech hub,” Mantas Katinas, Managing Director of Invest Lithuania, believes. “Lithuania’s progressive regulatory environment, skilled developers and successful integration of newcomers not only help to attract new fintech companies, but also facilitate their rapid growth.”