Consider this scenario: A person has lost their job, and they need to take out a bank loan to maintain financial stability. Later, this person realizes that they need to modify the loan to make their monthly payments smaller, and they call the bank to get the ball rolling. Permission to execute such a transaction typically requires the submission of documents to confirm the customer’s identity, including utility bills, bank statements, photos, and other documents. It might also mean answering personal questions, signing referral documents, and acknowledging terms and conditions. In short, most banks require a complex identification verification process that takes seven to ten days—with lots and lots of paperwork.
Enter Lightico, a next-generation software-as-a-service platform established in 2015 that instantly accelerates this cumbersome process. The company has built a “suite of micro-apps” for customer interactions to help companies swiftly and easily collect forms, documents, e-signatures, and photos, with consent, for verification purposes, directly from their customers’ smartphones.
“Lightico is a turnkey solution that can easily be implemented into current business processes and immediately ready for use,” Lightico co-founder and CEO Zviki Ben Ishay told NoCamels in a video call. “A customer receives a simple text message with a link, clicks the link, and enters a live portal where they can immediately complete tasks that require their information, which can later be accessed by a place of business.”
“Everything can be done through SMS or email with a link that opens in the browser to deliver a messenger-style interaction, and directly from their mobile without downloading any application. And that’s a portion of our technology that no one is doing,” he said.
In short, Lightico creates a digital “collaborative platform” between the business and its clients for accelerated sales cycles and better customer service. While the customer can access their information easily and securely at any time on their mobile device, they can also share and receive documents, process e-signatures, payments, and identification forms.
On the company side, Ben Ishay said Lightico has developed a workflow automation system for businesses to streamline the process.
“We’ve built a workflow engine that automatically associates the relevant tasks and the activities to a consumer, based on the structure of the deal that they’re doing. This dramatically reduces their manual intervention of employees on the part of the enterprise,” he said. “We make sure there is no thinking when it comes to the documentation process and leave room for people to do what they do best—maintaining the conversation and not chasing customers.”
“Businesses were apprehensive at first to digitally automate their systems. Perhaps they were used to their old ways of thought the process was too long and didn’t realize it only required a click. “We were able to upgrade their entire CRM (customer relationship management) systems within just a couple of days,” he said.
And the company has had “a lot of interest in the last year and a half,” he added.
The COVID-19 pandemic, a time when online banking and other digital services became the norm, may have also had something to do with it.
“COVID-19 caught everyone by surprise. And I think the problem that we were setting out to solve before the pandemic got even tougher,” said Ben Ishay. “Put aside the fact that consumers didn’t enjoy driving to the nearest FedEx in order to send a fax to a lender or a banker—but think about PPP loans that need to be taken in large masses.”
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a USD 953 billion business loan program that was established by the US federal government in 2020 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to help certain businesses, self-employed workers, sole proprietors, certain nonprofit organizations, and others continue paying their workers.
“We’ve had banks that deployed Lightico during COVID-19 that have been able to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars off PPP loans in a very short time frame because of the efficiencies and the ability to complete everything in real-time,” he said.
Headquartered in New York with an R&D department in Tel Aviv, Lightico raised USD 13 million in November 2020 at the height of the ongoing pandemic. The funding round was led by London-based venture capital firm Oxx, with participation from Capital One Ventures and Harmony Partners. The company previously raised USD 14.5 million in 2019 in a round led by Mangrove Capital Partners, with participation from Crescendo Venture Partners and early-stage investors Lool Ventures and Spinach Angels.
To date, Lightico has raised a total of USD 27 million.
The startup is working with several banks to help customers open accounts, secure loans, and make digital payments while meeting compliance standards. Other customers are mostly in the US and the UK, but Ben Ishay said they “get a lot of inbound demand from all over the world.”
“We have customers in Germany, France, Mexico, and of course in Israel as well as in Spain, South Africa, and Japan,” he said.
Customers include Capital One, the American bank holding company whose investment arm has also helped the company raise money in recent funding rounds, North Carolina-based car finance and loan company Platinum Auto Finance, and Affordable Medicare Solutions, an insurance company from Georgia.
Ben Ishay calls the entire process of using Lightico the last mile of the customer journey.
“If you’re getting on a light-speed rail that cuts your journey in half, and your stop is still a 15-minute walk from your destination, what’s the point?” he said. “Lightico is a solution that makes the entire journey easier.”
This article first appeared in NoCamels, which covers innovations from Israel for a global audience.