By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Antonio Separovic is a very passionate player in the financial technology (fintech) space. Good thing he also belonged to a group of friends who also share the outlook in their career and all working to provide financial inclusion for all.
As co-founder and managing director of Oradian, Antonio is leading an innovative fintech company. Antonio is working hard to ensure that Oradian is on the right track and its growth sustainable.
“My co-founders and I were all working in the financial inclusion and microfinance industry before we came together to establish Oradian,” says Antonio, who specializes in using disruptive technology to drive global financial inclusion.
The group was working with fintech and management information systems (MIS) in frontier markets. They spent years observing cooperatives, microfinance institutions (MFIs), microfinance banks (MFBs), rural banks and Saccos struggled to grow with the rigid technology available.
All those years, he said, they knew they needed to build better solutions that would enable institutions to grow quickly. This gave to the birth of Oradian.
Oradian was founded by Antonio in 2012 in a rural region in northern Nigeria where his team worked side by side with MFIs, MFBs and Saccos to build Oradian’s cloud-based toolset.
Fintech provides cloud banking software to microfinance institutions. Instafin, Oradian’s flagship software, allows institutions to transform risks into opportunities, operational inefficiencies into operational excellence, limited data into real-time data, and stagnancy into growth.
Oradian’s SaaS solution is designed to scale MFIs up to enable them to serve the two billion people at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid.
“We built the toolset where our customers – financial institutions – work to identify and address the challenges they face in their daily operations,” says Antonio.
Oradian employs over 50 people from 18 countries across its offices in Croatia, the UK, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, and the Philippines.
Oradian is a global team of people passionate about financial inclusion. Its team is building the solutions that make it easier, more affordable and more efficient for our customers to provide financial services like loans, savings and deposits, remittances, etc.
“We are a B2B company and focus exclusively on enabling financial institutions – the players that are best placed to make the biggest impact on financial inclusion in their communities – with solutions, technology and partnership,” explains Antonio.
Oradian offers opportunities for financial institutions to improve their business – more efficient operations, informed decisions with real-time data, and growth. These business benefits and global best practice are built into our toolset of beautiful, easy-to-use, intuitive tools.
Oradian’s toolset includes Instafin which is our cloud-based MIS, messaging, training and implementation, automatic Instafin updates, maximum data security, 24/7 customer support and membership into a global community.
Oradian provides cloud banking software for marginalized and excluded financial institutions that are ready to scale up to serve mass markets of underserved clients. Oradian’s SaaS solution enables financial institutions to know and control their portfolios, so that they can transform inefficiencies into operational excellence, limited data into informed decision-making, and stagnancy into growth. Oradian is headquartered in Zagreb, Croatia with specialist teams in the Philippines, Nigeria and South Africa.
Oradian’s global community is made up of over 60 visionary financial institutions from seven countries across Southeast Asia and Africa.
As a company, Oradian envisioned of a world where all financial institutions have the tools they need to serve their communities and provide access to financial services.
“Our mission is to boost financial inclusion by enabling financial institutions to grow and serve more clients,” says Antonio.
Today, two billion adults are without a bank account. Oradian is trying to penetrate this unbanked market. Given this premise, there is no doubt why Oradian’s market is expanding now and will continue to expand in the long run.
“Our customers are the visionary financial institutions working in frontier markets to reach the so-called unbanked with financial services,” says Antonio.
“As our community of customers grow, the number of unbanked adults falls and we boost financial inclusion. This means our market grows as we grow. More and more individuals became part of the digital economy, creating more demand for financial services from our customers and adding more value to Oradian’s toolset that our customers use to meet this demand,” says Antonio.
Oradian would like to be seen as unique B2B company from the rest of its league.
“We have teams of really passionate individuals who have lots of experience working with financial institutions in-market. We are on-the-ground and know the challenges our customers face,” he said.
In the Philippines, Oradian has a team of more than 25 individuals who are dedicated to meeting with our customers one-on-one. It pushes for partnerships to understand their operations and challenges and then craft a plan to overcome them.
But why did it choose to make the Philippines as key operational hub.
“The Philippines chose us,” says Antonio.
According to Antonio, this choice was supported by lots of inquiries from financial institutions in the Philippines. “We explored the market and quickly saw how our toolset worked in the Philippines. We began to invest heavily by building a team here and opening our permanent office,” he adds.
There are many reasons they chose the Philippine market and Oradian.
According to Antonio, the Philippines and Oradian are a good match.
Having a good match means opportunities for the Oradian team to make a big impact.
“There are many communities of individuals without financial services and as I’ve said, financial institutions are demanding cloud-based solutions,” he adds.
Antonio has a clear understanding that financial institutions in the Philippines stand to gain even more from cloud technology than other parts of the world because of frequent geohazards.
There is also a forward-thinking financial inclusion sector here with cooperation about key stakeholders like regulatory groups, telcos, development groups, etc.
“One big challenge that we are overcoming every day is a general fear of new technology. With new technology, sometimes there is a ‘fear of the unknown’ factor that can make people skeptical. However, adopting new technology, processes and going digital is necessary for financial institutions to continue growing and boosting financial inclusion,” he says.
To overcome this, Oradian works with financial institutions to break down the ‘unknowns.’
This means that its Business Development Managers have to explain what they do and how they do it. With clear explanation and proven experience, it is easy to move customers onto the most modern technology allowing them to get on with their business and growth.
According to Antonio, what is important is for the company to deliver what they have promised. This, he said, can be done by empowering his team to deliver.
“I’m constantly making sure that I am supporting them in a way that helps them execute and make their own decisions. This is key because the Oradian team along with our customers is the success behind Oradian.
This is because while they are engaged in a disruptive technology, they also value alignment.
“For alignment, we have a ‘you grow, we grow’ model which means Oradian’s growth depends on our customers success,” says Antonio whose professional experience is spread across both East and Western Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.
“We are constantly working with our customers to align their technology strategy with their business strategy. This is how we can best deliver and enable our customers to reach their goals.”
“Disruption is at the core of Oradian,” adds Antonio, who also served as a senior adviser to InfoSec Global and Ruder Innovations.
“We are always looking for a better solution that gives our customers an edge in growing. This means we are often unconventional, relative to how the financial inclusion and microfinance industry worked in the past,” he adds.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Cantilan Bank, in partnership with Oradian, have launched a pilot project on cloud-based core banking technology in the southern Philippines. Backed by a $150,000 ADB grant, Cantilan Bank will use Oradian’s cloud-based banking technology to demonstrate how digital services can unlock financial opportunities for the unbanked and underserved segments of the population.
Oradian, a SaaS provider, will provide the cloud technology infrastructure for Cantilan Bank. Using the SaaS model, the project will make use of Oradian’s flagship core-banking platform product, Instafin — an all-in-one software product which enables microfinance institutions, cooperatives, and rural banks to manage their day-to-day operations more effectively and serve their clients more efficiently.
The cloud-based core banking technology pilot project will be implemented in five stages including the full migration of Cantilan Bank’s data and information to the cloud infrastructure; mobility enhancement of loan officers in the field through mobile applications linked to the core system; integration with third parties including payments and remittance services; enabling clients to have direct digital access of their finances; and measuring impact on financial access.
The pilot project aims to make Cantilan Bank the first bank in the Philippines to use cloud-based core banking technology in its operations and can set the tone for the future use of the model in other parts of the Philippines and the region in the future.
As the Managing Director of Oradian, Antonio takes accountability for meeting all growth goals while creating a community of forward-thinking financial institutions around Oradian’s cloud banking software.
This is the reason that Antonio does not have the time yet to think of vacation or time to relax. All he could think for now is to support a growing business.
“I will be able to answer this question about my free time in a few years when I have free time. Until then, all of my time is spent with my family and Oradian,” he adds.
Since 2012, Oradian has received international awards and recognition for leading financial inclusion and building the fintech tools the industry needs.
This validates just how much Oradian has grown not just as a mere business, but a good business proposition.
Its growth in the Philippines is also a validation that, indeed, Oradian and the Philippines are a good match.