A basic prerequisite for landing a consumer loan is a credit score. For many, this presents a conundrum: how do you get a credit score if banks won’t extend credit to you? Now, Oportun—a fintech company providing affordable financial services to low-to-moderate-income individuals— has found a solution.
About half of Oportun customers do not have credit scores. The other half have been “mis-scored,” meaning their rating does not adequately reflect their ability to pay back the loan. Oportun serves low- to moderate- income customers, many of whom are supporting families. Before Oportun, they would turn to expensive, even predatory products when times were tough, including high-cost, short-term payday loans that set them up to fail.
Oportun was founded to help people succeed by providing fair, affordable loans, enabling customers to establish or improve their credit scores. An estimated 100 million Americans have been shut out by the financial mainstream because they lacked a sufficient credit history or score, according to Oportun. Its purpose-led team uses data and technology to customize loan sizes and monthly payments for each customer. The company also provides access to free financial coaching and other partner resources. This approach helps clients obtain the capital they need while demonstrating their creditworthiness so they can unlock new opportunities.
Since 2006, Oportun has lent more than $8.4 billion by making over 3.7 million affordable loans. Through those transactions, customers have saved an estimated $1.7 billion in interest and fees, according to a study commissioned by Oportun and conducted by the Financial Health Network, a leading nonprofit authority on consumer financial health. Oportun operates in 19 states across the United States, and is expanding. In doing so, it has scaled a successful business and earned a spot on Fast Company‘s “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Finance.”
Last year, Oportun went public. CEO Raul Vazquez credits the achievement to the team, the mission, and technology. Oportun is headquarted in Silicon Valley, which gives it access to some of the best talent in cloud technology, mobile, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. Vazquez notes technology advancements at other companies “often feel like they are focused on people who are already doing well and have a lot of opportunity.” Oportun, on the other hand, uses tech to serve the underserved.
For the people, by the people
A company cannot maximize technology’s value without a skilled team. Oportun’s talented workforce share a strong sense of mission and abide by authentic corporate values, including excellence, innovation, care, and service. Through its omni-channel network, which also includes physical locations, Oportun is able to service its customers how, where, and when they want to be served. Vazquez’s leadership style also reflects company values. He abides by a servant leadership philosophy and views the org chart as an inverted pyramid. “I am not at the top; I am at the bottom and here to help others,” he explains.
This desire to help drives the company forward. Oportun is invested in helping underserved customers build their financial futures, which also fuels its growth. Vazquez predicts continued progress—for the company, and the people it serves.