With this month’s launch of its asset finance register, Acquis Data Solutions believes it has cracked the biggest problem facing asset registers in the UK – the reliability of the data they have to work with.
With last year’s Arena Television scandal provoking much debate about how to tackle fraud on a national scale, most available solutions to date have depended on registration numbers as the best way of tracking assets.
But industry experts have criticised this approach, claiming serial numbers can be easily tampered with and any asset register dependent on them is open to abuse.
Nick Leader, CEO of Acquis and a director of Acquis Data Solutions, says the newly unveiled register, Acquis Lumia, has got around this by using more reliable data – data that cannot be easily falsified.
“What our system needs is the company name, company registration number, an agreement number and the netbook value of the agreement at the time,” he says.
“Once we have captured all the information from the market on a monthly basis, the users would access that data via a portal using the company registration number and they are able to see the level of indebtedness and use that information as part of their decision process before lending to them.”
While fraudsters will always try and stay one step ahead of the system, Acquis Lumia aims to lock potential fraudsters out.
“All the information the register runs on comes from the leasing community,” says Leader. “You can falsify a serial number or a customer can tamper with their financial records but if lenders are telling the register they have lent to certain companies, that is a fact. We are making sure the potential fraud or the parties that commit fraud are not involved in that exchange of information.”
Funding the register
Acquis Lumia is going to be a risky venture for Acquis Data Solutions to float – it will be free to all users until it reaches a critical mass where it is delivering real value and Leader says the company will be creating new jobs to help spread awareness to get as much as 60 per cent of the industry signed up this year so that the register is fully operational. But Leader is confident that the existing relationships the company has in the industry will allow them to ramp up quickly.
When the insurer first announced Lumia to the market, it stated its asset register would benefit from Acquis’ market and data expertise gained from working with over 120 leasing companies.
“We have existing relationships with more than half of the leasing companies in the UK,” Leader says. “That gives us an advantage because there is a lot of contact that needs to take place before someone will sign up for this. They will want to see a demo, then it will need to be approved by various parties within their business, so there are quite a lot of screen time or face to face required to get them signed up. To get us more bandwidth we will be hiring more sales and marketing people. Financially, our insurance business is very healthy and has been able to lend a lot of resources to the new venture, as well as proving expertise and some of the business infrastructure. But it is our aim to have Lumia standing on its own two feet by the end of the year.”
Leader refused to say how much the asset register will be costing the company while it waits for it to reach a point where users can be charged.
“In terms of pounds and pence we haven’t done a calculation because there isn’t any point doing one at this stage,” says Leader. “Our promise to the industry at the beginning of the year was that we would deliver a technology solution at our cost, and we would provide as much resources as we can to get consensus so it works for the industry.
Giving it everything
“There is a gamble from our perspective – if it doesn’t work, we lose some capital, but we are a small, agile, entrepreneurial business and sometimes you have to take those gambles to deliver these solutions. We won’t be giving up, we are already into May so we will be giving it everything.”
Once the register has enough users inputting information to deliver real value, everyone will be charged to use it on a subscription basis, which will be 0.4 of one basis point of 1 % of netbook value per annum (a basis point being 1/100 of a %).
“It will be capped and there will be a minimum charge of £6,000 per annum,” says Leader. “Roughly speaking, if the leasing company’s total outstanding debt of their lending is under £150 million they will pay £6000 per annum. If their outstanding is greater than £1.25 billion they will be capped at £50, 000 per annum.
“The theory is the bigger the company is, the more value they are adding into the solution because they are adding more data into it, so we felt it was fair to have it capped because those larger companies can start realising the economies of scale of their business. We have a minimum charge to cover our ongoing administration and onboarding costs for us.”