In today's digital economy, data automation and streamlined user experience (UX)  are allowing small businesses to scale and thrive more easily then ever before.

Traditionally, Canada has lagged behind other international players in fintech, with just an 18% adoption rate in 2017 compared to a global average of 33%, and a whopping 69% in China. Efforts in the Canadian market by fintech companies like online small business lender OnDeck, however, are rapidly bringing Canadian businesses back into the race.

 "As Canada accelerates the adoption of fintech, the gap is closing very quickly," says OnDeck Chief Revenue Officer David Souaid. "When you look at hubs like Toronto and Montreal where AI innovation is happening, we are starting to take the lead in some areas."

Founded in the US in 2007, OnDeck expanded to Toronto in 2015 and recently merged with Evolocity Financial Group to broaden their working capital services and product offerings across Canada.

When small business succeeds, so does Canada

With 98% of Canadian companies being small businesses, and with those businesses employing nearly 70% of the private workforce, anything that's good for small business is good for Canada's economy as a whole. "Small business is the driver of our economy and fintech is helping facilitate its growth," says Souaid. "The internet has been the great leveler by providing small and medium businesses access to things like working capital that were previously much harder to obtain."

Fintech's potency is at its most evident when it comes to reducing friction in the financing process. Diverse data sources and automated analytics enable faster and smarter lending decisions, allowing businesses to grow and expand seamlessly on their own timelines. The convergence of these technologies is the OnDeck Score®, a sort of next-generation credit rating.

"The OnDeck Score® is a key part of the platform," says Souaid. "It's the ultimate metric that determines whether a customer is approved and for how much. It's essentially the output of all the data we collect. It's much more robust than a traditional credit rating because it looks at thousands of different data points and takes into account data relating to overall business cash flow, performance and health, rather than just the individual. This is a big paradigm shift in the small business lending space." 

Better fintech UX means more time to run your business

The streamlined user experience that the OnDeck platform makes possible can be a lifesaver for small business owners who are often wearing many hats and burning the candle at both ends. "In the OnDeck world you can go online, fill out a few pages of an application form, and typically receive a decision in seconds to minutes, and then funding within as few as 24 hours," says Souaid. "Total time to funding can be as truncated as a couple of business days. Juxtapose that with traditional financing experiences where you need to go to a branch, prepare all sorts of documentation, and often wait weeks for a decision. We’re bridging that gap in the online space to automate the system – access to data and technology enables us to do this so you can focus on what matters, your business.

In addition to opening up lending opportunities to a far wider pool of businesses, data automation can facilitate financing personalization that would have previously been impossible. Online does not mean impersonal. “We ensure that each customer, especially more intricate files with unique nuances, are handled with a human touch," says Souaid. "The automation is purely the driver to simplify this process. Wider, more unique, and customizable product offerings will continue to emerge as this space develops."

Canada's economic growth depends on our small businesses having the tools they need to grow and compete both internationally and at home. Today, fintech resources like data automation represent a huge part of that toolbox, and it's companies like OnDeck that are making sure Canadian businesses have access to them.