JustUs recently welcomed the state-owned British Business Bank (BBB) as a minority stakeholder in the company, in a deal that valued the peer-to-peer lender at £50m.
But JustUs chief executive and co-founder Lee Birkett (pictured) believes that the £50m valuation is “quite conservative, when the global roll out of P2P digital currency provides a substantial international growth opportunity for our proven P2P platform”.
Earlier this year, Moneybrain, the sister company of JustUs, confirmed its initial registration as a money service business in the US.
Moneybrain is a multi-faceted company which allows UK users to compare financial deals, including loans and investments. It also issues its own asset-backed cryptocurrency, BiPS.
The firm has secured SEC approval to raise up to $10m (£7.34m) in the US to expand its American investor base and to fund the roll out of the JustUs platform in conjunction with its Visa Fintech Fast Track sponsorship.
This represents a huge expansion for the Cheshire-based company, and Birkett believes that over the coming months and years the JustUs/Moneybrain brand will be worth much more than £50m.
“We are in discussions with a number of strategic investors at the moment regarding our forthcoming $10m Series A investment round, so future valuations are commercially sensitive,” he explains.
The BBB partnership came after JustUs’ lead investors applied to the government-sponsored future fund scheme, where the government matches a certain level of private investment in the form of convertible loans with the objective to convert these loans into ordinary equity in a timely manner. The equity conversion process successfully completed in December 2021.
By bringing on the government-backed BBB as a minority stakeholder, JustUs is demonstrating its ability to attract high quality institutional investors with detailed due diligence and ongoing reporting requirements.
Birkett reveals that he is in exploratory discussions with other departments within the BBB about future working relationships, which is a testament to the platform’s reputation and ability to secure institutional backers.
“The recent BBB co-lending investment with Folk2Folk is a great example of the evolving P2P landscape and one JustUs is keen to play a substantial role in delivering across the UK,” says Birkett.
“The BBB backing enhances our capital adequacy surplus considerably,” he adds. “It brings in a really powerful shareholder to the cap table alongside our existing 500 shareholders, and it makes the JustUs community even stronger.”
In the year ahead, Birkett wants to roll out JustUs’ highly anticipated ‘peoples mortgage’ product, but cautions that the launch timeline depends on the regulator.
“The Financial Conduct Authority authorisation team have a considerable backlog at the moment,” he says.
“So we would hope to start offering the people’s mortgage within around 12 weeks, but it could end up being 26 weeks or longer.
“We started the process last year and now it’s full steam ahead. The demand is bigger than ever from retail borrowers and lenders.”
With institutional backers, new product launches, a US expansion and a new funding round, £50m is just the beginning of the JustUs valuation story.
Read more: Why P2P lending is outpacing bank lending