by: Geisha Alonzo
Hassle-free loans and same day approval are among the services being offered by JMMB Express Finance (T&T) Ltd, the newest addition to the JMMB family, which is providing a consumer financing solution predicated on inclusion, fair price and a quick response.
CEO of JMMB Express Finance Elson James said the differentiating factors are built on improving the financial circumstances of clients. While the company promises to deliver competitive unsecured loans, the main goal is to break the cycle of debt clients experience.
James, who underscored the importance of having a credit score to secure a loan and attractive lower repayment rates, said: “There are a lot of people within our markets who have loans with various institutions and they don’t benefit from that loan data. They go, they take out their stuff on hire purchase, they pay for it for years but they don’t have any sort of credit history being built.
“When it comes for them to get their car or mortgage, there is no credit history. For us it’s to try to get that market and bring them into the fold, so we allow them to build a credit history on a smaller loan. Then when they’re ready for that car or mortgage or even investments they have a path to that. They start with JMMB Express Finance and then they grow into the bank and then into investments.”
The central ethos of JMMB is having the client’s best interest at heart.
Noting that interest rates are often very high, James said because traditional banks didn’t step in, clients have been forced to go to non-traditional lenders at high rates.
“We saw that as a business opportunity but to also ensure clients are getting a fair rate or a fair price for the loans that they are taking and not being taken advantage of,” he said.
He said JMMB’s product is different from the offerings at other lending institutions because of the speed with which the transaction is completed.
“When you apply—whether online or within our branch or on the phone—there is immediate feedback regarding qualification and then we send you to get your documents. I think we’re the first to try to turn the whole process upside down so that you don’t incur that time and expense,” James explained.
“We are also different by rate. We are cheaper than a lot of the other micro-lenders. Credit card rates in the market go from 24 to 27 per cent. We actually start at 20 per cent and maximum at 30 per cent but it all depends on your credit score.
“For us, whether you’re a new or existing client, we are going to give you that feedback right away.”
James said the size of the market in T&T for consumer finance loans is estimated at between $20 to $30 billion, ranging from unsecured products to high end loans.
“In creating this product we self-regulated our business to $40,000. We also have a bank, so the idea is at that dollar amount most people can get the things they want for an emergency. Anything beyond that you can go through the bank itself and go through a lending process,” he said, adding that JMMB’s door is open to anyone, member or not.
The new facility is located at 86, Ramsaran Street, Chaguanas.
“It’s central. So if we’re going to start there, it’s easy to access Chaguanas from both sides of the island.”
The company is already considering opening another location at Upper Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain in a month’s time, as well as a branch at Cipero Street, San Fernando, within two months.
“Next year it will be the East-West Corridor and Tobago, so before we finish our financial year we’re aiming to have four to five branches,” he said.
Borrowers can access loans up to $40,000 with a repayment period of three years, from the JMMB Express Finance.
The application process is faster and repayment is made convenient with Express Finance. Clients can make loan payments using several options such as via Sure Pay, a Trinidad-based payment centre, JMMB Bank (T&T) and JMMB Express Finance locations.
Speaking at the launch of the service, JMMB Group chairman Archibald Campbell gave an insight into the importance of the facility in T&T’s financial landscape.
He cited World Bank statistics which show that while approximately 75 per cent of T&T’s population over the age of 15 have bank accounts, only an estimated 34 per cent of the population over the age of 18 is considered to be financially literate. Approximately 58 per cent of people over the age of 15 indicated they have been unable to save any money over the past year and only 8.4 per cent of the over-15 population has ever borrowed from a licensed financial institution.
“Coming out of those statistics the conclusion to us was clear—more people need to be both brought into and included in the formal financial sector,” Campbell said.
He concluded that more people are in dire need of being personally-empowered through financial education.
“Guided by the team of our co-founders Dr Noel Lyon and (the late) Joan Duncan, JMMB has taken on the mandate of broadening the net of financial inclusion in T&T with the roll-out of our first branch of JMMB Express Finance,” he said.