The rebrand comes in response to the recently launched Innovative Finance ISA, which the Us platform hopes to become eligible for IFISA investment within the next month or two. The platform is raising more equity money in tandem with the rebrand. Former Google Principal Thomas Adalbert has invested and joins the board as Chief Marketing Officer.
Us will be reserving part of the impending fundraise for the crowd. The platform raised a little over £425k through Crowdcube in March 2014, in exchange for 21.38% of the company. eMoneyUnion Founder and CEO Lee Birkett said in a teaser video on the justUs website that the company has fielded significant institutional interest in relationg to the fundraise, but described himself as “loyal to the crowd”. Lee wouldn’t say exactly how much is being raised, but confirmed that it will be a 7 figure sum. It’s not yet been confirmed which equity crowdfunding portal will be used to facilitate the fundraise. Lee tells me that he is currently working to raise interest from eMoneyUnion’s existing lenders and amongst other contacts, and that the host equity crowdfunding platform will be announced soon.
eMoneyUnion closed a 6 figure investment round in May 2015 at a valuation of £18m (according to a Companies House filing), on-boarding a trio of high-profile industry leaders in the process. Derek Zissman, Sir John Hegarty and Tom Teichman joined the platform’s board, with the former taking up the role of Chairman. eMoneyUnion has seen £135m of consumer loan applications to date, with what it describes as “minimal” marketing effort. The platform has facilitated £2m in cumulative lending volume. All funds have been raised directly from the crowd. Lee describes the past year and a half as a BETA phase, with the launch of JustUs.co signaling a shift to becoming fully operational.
Like the majority of the UK’s P2P lenders, Us continues to wait for full authorisation – and will not be able to offer IFISA investments until that comes. Us will be offering 4 distinct ISA products. The first will pay a gross interest rate of up to 6%, providing exposure to property-backed consumer loans, for borrowers with “high credit scores”. The second tax-free pot pays up to 8%, with the only difference being that borrowers in this band will tend to carry “average” credit scores. The third pot encompasses borrowers with “low” credit scores, and pays up to 10%. The final product is the “Go Pro” pot, offering gross returns of up to 12%, and allowing investors to handpick loans, with up to 20 different risk grades to choose from.
Lee identified idle IFISA money (i.e. money that is not immediately lent out a platform) – as a key concern for the Treasury. As such, the Us IFISA products will be offered exclusively to shareholders and existing lenders, on a first-come-first-served basis. Once investor supply comes level with borrower demand on the Us platform, further IFISA investors will simply have to wait.
The size of the Us fundraise has not yet been disclosed, but look for the campaign to land on a host platform within the next couple of weeks.