JustUs is set to bring its peer-to-peer lending platform to the US and Europe within the next year, after Brexit forced the company to rethink its plans for global domination.
Lee Birkett (pictured), founder and chief executive of JustUs, says that the company – which also trades under the Moneybrain brand, and issued the BiPS asset-backed crypto-currency – is in the process of finalising its US launch after seeing huge demand for its products. However, it has not been an easy journey.
“Since Covid, the world has opened up and we have seen demand for JustUs and BiPS as a currency from multiple jurisdictions,” says Birkett. “But because of Brexit, there isn’t actually a trade deal done with Europe and the US yet. So it’s very difficult to do cross trade activities.
“We’re literally out on our own. So for the last year and a half because of Brexit, we have had to divert resources from investing in the UK to basically accommodate our global expansion. We’ve had to invest in other countries.”
JustUs has opted to establish its European base in Estonia. From there, the lender can access all 27 countries of the EU. Crowdfunding is currently unregulated in Europe, but this is set to change when new legislation is introduced next year. This means that while JustUs may start as a non-regulated European P2P platform next year, it will still have to go through a transitional cycle to full regulation.
“But the beauty of Europe is it’s harmonized across the 27 states,” Birkett explains. “So if you get one licence in a jurisdiction, then we can trade with all 27 countries. Unfortunately, in the UK now, we can only trade with the UK as a UK entity.”
In the US, it is a little more complicated. JustUs recently announced that it has been selected by Visa to join their fintech fast-track scheme, which means that the company should be ready to roll out its Moneybrain app in the US market next year. Under US law, to act as a lending platform, the company has to be licenced in each individual state, but Birkett has already made inroads by registering for inter-state anti-money laundering checks and winning the support and investment of Visa.
Along with its UK partner Railsbank, JustUs intends to raise money in the US following its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, by selling shares in the US for the organisation.
“We’ve been welcomed with open arms in the US,” Birkett says. “The regulations are positively engaged. We’re quite advanced obviously in the UK now with our P2P legislation, and it’s the gold standard that a lot of other countries are now looking at. And so we’ve been welcomed with open arms.
“From little old northwest of England, we’re going to be trading internationally, probably as early as 2022.”
This means that within a year, JustUs could go from a UK-only P2P lending platform to a global fintech force with a regulated presence in the UK, US and Europe – and Birkett is not ruling out an Australia/Pacific expansion in the years ahead.
“That may also evolve next year,” he says. “But we’re literally focusing on the two biggest markets for us at the moment, which would be Europe and the US.”
Despite the setbacks of Brexit, JustUs has managed to identify a global demand for its products, and Birkett is determined to meet this demand and bring both crypto-trading and P2P lending to the masses – no matter where they may be.