Case Study: MPower Financing
MPOWER Financing helps high-promise global citizens to further their academic and financial aspirations. Working with educational institutions and students all over the world, they offer access to loans, grants, bursaries, and other resources to support students in completing their college degrees. In addition, they also help students establish a credit history and build financial literacy to beGer prepare them for life aHer college.
Tower House Studio (THS) started working with MPower in 2014, when the company was just a startup. The THS team has been instrumental in helping them reach their business objectives and making education more accessible for millions of post-secondary students worldwide.
Because of a personal connection between one of their co-founders and Tower House, they sought us out immediately. However, they also sought bids from various vendors for the in-house origination solution. Before making their decision, they spoke to several expert consultants and researched available third-party solutions.
Initially, they paid several providers to perform the loan origination just to get the service off the ground. Unfortunately, this method incurred a cost per application whether the loan was funded or not, making the process unsustainable over the long-term.
MPower needed to build out an in-house loan origination platform to support its business model. Above all, they needed it to be separate from third-party providers like Cology and to communicate directly with ELMNet, ScholarNet, NelNet, and others using a commonline specification.
The company needed to partner with a development firm that offered diverse expertise and experience as their platform and offering had much-untapped potential that they were hoping to leverage, if not right away, then certainly in the future.
Possibly the most significant challenge we faced was that MPower needed to launch within a three-month window. The problem was that the consultants they initially engaged quoted them six-to-nine months. Plus, the third-party solutions were either not cost-effective or could not deliver the functionality they needed.
Since MPower’s window was so short, there was considerable stress involved in building out the solution, testing it adequately, and delivering a fully functional platform that fulfilled their vision.
After working diligently within a tight timeframe, THS successfully implemented an in-house loan origination solution and deployed it within three months of engagement. As a result, MPower was able to reduce their costs by more than 40 percent as they no longer had to pay third-party providers and did not incur losses on unfunded applications.
The result is a web-based and mobile-friendly platform with a customized SalesForce back end modified to support their specific needs and workflows. During the engagement (which is ongoing), THS has become more like an offshore engineering and technology department for MPower than a transactional outsourced tech firm.
The MPower site receives thousands of visitors every day, with a thousand potential customers hitting the platform and submitting applications each month. Customer feedback has been excellent from every corner of the world. One-third of all users access the platform via mobile devices, and those who do are very excited by that capability.
Besides the technical results, MPower was most impressed by THS’ responsiveness and level of communication from day one. THS provided a seamless process from end-to-end, integrating with the client’s teams, systems, and workflows. When specialized expertise was required,whether it was with a language, a platform, or a particular skillset, THS was able to bring that solution to the table in a short period to solve the issue.
FROM THE CLIENT
“There was a lot of fast learning and lots of stress involved in getting this project done and approved. Against all the odds, we did it (still can't believe it), solidifying the bond between MPower and THS. We all worked so hard on it, so it felt really nice when I was working late into the night to get a message from someone at THS who was also up at all hours, working on the project too.”
“Tower House Studio provided our Fintech company with Silicon Valley-caliber software developers that understand financial services, operate in the same time zone, bend over backward to deliver on time, and do so at a fraction of typical on-shore prices. We consider them an integral part of our team and are excited to continue growing with them.”