12 Questions to Discover UpLift

Air travel can sometimes be expensive as some excursions cost more than the typical domestic flight. UpLift is an origination platform that specializes in airline travel lending. They have a well defined niche to improve borrower experience and provide investors with substantial returns.

Read the interview below to learn more about UpLift.

LendingRobot: How would you describe UpLift in one sentence?
UpLift: UpLift allows creditworthy consumers to pay for air travel over time by offering low-interest loans at checkout online.

LendingRobot: Where did the idea come from?
UpLift: [Our] CEO, Brian Barth, has a long history as an innovator in the online travel business. A lot of airline customers shop for a tickets ahead of their travel date but don’t purchase them because of the high upfront cost, and are then subject to changes in the price. This situation is frustrating for both the travel merchants and the customers, which created the inspiration for UpLift as a win-win solution.

LendingRobot: What makes you unique from others in your space?
UpLift: UpLift is the only originator that is focused on the air travel market. We have roots in both the lending and travel sides of the business, and our product is uniquely suited to meet the needs of borrowers who want to finance travel costs.

LendingRobot: Who is your typical investor?
UpLift: Our typical investor is an institutional or sophisticated investor who values high current coupon and short duration (our loans have about a 6 month weighted average life), and appreciates the lower risk of default that comes with lending for a specific purchase as opposed to general purpose consumer debt.

LendingRobot: How do your investors choose their investing strategy?
UpLift: We are not currently segmenting our loan pool into different strategies, but in the future we may offer the opportunity to invest in different parts of the credit spectrum, or in borrowers coming through a specific travel partner channel (i.e. only United Airlines customers.)

LendingRobot: How does your investment fit into an investor’s portfolio?
UpLift: Our product is very attractive to investors seeking an attractive risk/return tradeoff with low sensitivity to interest rates. We are very well positioned to deliver steady returns even as we enter a more volatile period for both rates and credit.

LendingRobot: What is a typical loan like on UpLift?
UpLift: Our typical loan is between \$1,000-2,000 and has a maturity less than 1 year out. Our borrowers all have prime credit scores, and they may be using UpLift to pay for a dream vacation or take a family trip that would otherwise put a big burden on their cash reserves.

LendingRobot: Could you describe your risk assessment and credit model?
UpLift: We rely on our proprietary credit models to make sure that we are only approving the most credit-worthy borrowers. We have a multi-step filtering process which helps us to avoid the riskier segment of the market, and our default rates bear out the efficacy of this approach.

LendingRobot: What are three milestone numbers for UpLift?
UpLift: Raised \$8.2MM in series A funding, signed up our 3rd major airline as a partner, on target to scale up originations to \$50[MM].

LendingRobot: What are the goals you can share for 2017?
UpLift: In 2017 we want to deploy \$50MM of capital through the UpLift origination platform, and partner with at least one more major air carrier.

LendingRobot: What is your greatest challenge?
UpLift: Our product is in some ways a new class within the alternative lending space, so one of our greatest challenges is educating investors about all the reasons why our loans are a great addition to their portfolio.

LendingRobot: If you had one wish for your niche in the alternative lending space, what would it be?
UpLift: The process that we have pioneered should become the standard way to make travel purchases. It should be just as common as financing appliances, autos, and other consumer goods. We can take the pain out of originating and servicing small loans for specific purchases, and we hope to establish this method as an attractive alternative to credit card debt.

We want to thank UpLift for taking the time to do this interview and we hope you enjoyed learning more about this new type of asset class.

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