Credix’s story begins at Sint-Lievens College in Antwerp, where Thomas Bohner and Chaim Finizola were at school together. “We’ve always been very adventurous,” says Thomas. “When we were 17, we started an event company for drum and bass parties. It got a little out of hand at that time: after a while we organized festivals with a thousand people in attendance. At the University of Antwerp, the two friends became acquainted with Maxime Paysen at SINC, an organization that stimulates entrepreneurship among students. The three remain in touch, work together on other companies and set up Credix at the end of 2021.
Less than a year and a half later, the three Antwerp residents are already on the American Business magazine’s 30 under 30 list. Forbes, which selects thirty promising European entrepreneurs each year. Credix took the spot in this category ‘finance’. “A very pleasant surprise,” replied Thomas, the 28-year-old CEO of Credix. “This will definitely help us spread our story and attract new people to our team.” We call Thomas in New York, his permanent base. “Chaim is in São Paulo, Maxim is from Antwerp in the Scheldestraat. Our team consists of a total of 34 people in these three locations.”
Invest in Brazil
But what does Credix actually do? “With our platform, we solve two problems,” explains Thomas. First, it is very difficult for individuals and small businesses in emerging countries like Brazil or Mexico to get a loan. In Belgium, we don’t really think about it. We apply to the bank and find out how much it costs. But in these countries, half of the people don’t even have a bank account. A person who takes out a loan must sometimes pay interest of 30 or 40%. For credit cards, this can amount to more than 100%. Small credit companies are trying to solve this problem, but it is difficult to get international capital.
On the other hand, there are large hedge funds in the United States and Europe (Or hedge funds, investment funds that attempt to make large profits by speculating on adverse price movements in financial markets, ed.). who want to invest in emerging countries, but cannot gain a foothold there,” Thomas continues. Instant access to all information and the chance of errors or hacks is very small.
Credix also works with cryptocurrency, but not in the form that most people know about now. “We don’t use Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are currencies that people speculate on their value, but USDC. That’s what it’s called stablecoin, where the value is directly related to the US dollar: 1 US dollar coin is in principle equal to 1 US dollar. Digital currency is necessary for the transaction to take place instantly, without third party intervention or bank transfer.”
Credix pioneered the idea of using blockchain and cryptocurrency in loan trading. “When we started, we were among the first three or four companies worldwide to do this,” says Thomas. “But in the meantime the industry has grown tremendously. Traditional banks are also looking at how to put traditional activities on the blockchain. We are getting a lot of questions from the big banks and looking at how to work with them.”
1 billion in 3 years
Thus, the financial world is watching Credix with great interest. The fledgling company raised $2.5 million shortly after its launch, and a second round of capital last summer brought in another $11.25 million. One of the main investors is the American company Motive Partners, with Rob Heyvaert from Antwerp as its director. “But they don’t invest in us because we’re from Antwerp, you know. Because they want to rethink the financial market, like we do.”
To date, about 35 million USD in loans have been passed on the Credix platform. “Now we want to expand,” says Thomas. “Within the next three years, we want to reach $1 billion in loans through our platform.” At the moment, Credix operates primarily in Brazil and the first loans were issued in Mexico and Colombia. “The focus is on auto loans and loans to small and medium businesses, but we are now looking at the agricultural market, among others. Over time, we would like to expand into other geographic markets, such as Africa and Southeast Asia.”
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