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In our latest Leader’s Interview, Michael Common, co-founder and CEO of Nivo, shares his thoughts with Asset Finance Connect on the opportunities for further digitisation in the asset finance industry, the role of artificial intelligence (AI), and technology as a tool for collaboration in the broker-lender channel.

Key takeaways:

  • Plenty of room for further digitisation in the asset finance sector despite the complexity of the industry
  • Small brokers are often reluctant to spend money on tech which they see as an unnecessary cost, particularly if they aren’t looking to grow
  • Messaging apps encourage the communication and collaboration of the customer-broker-lender channel into a consolidated, accessible, secure, compliant and auditable end-to-end solution

Michael Common is a self-confessed innovator. He loves to see new technology entering the market and explore what these digital tools can do for the financial services industry.

With most people experiencing digital in their personal day-to-day lives, asset finance players know what the digital experience looks like and what benefits it can bring. This realisation has led many in the industry to reach the same conclusion that there must be processes that can be improved by embracing technology.

Common and Nivo want to extend that personal digital use to the asset finance industry in the day-to-day workings of the sector to create an efficient and effective experience for the whole value chain.

“This is the direction of travel; things are going to get more and more digitised as customers demand it,” noted Common.

Tech opportunities in asset finance industry

Michael Common believes that there is “still plenty of room for more digitisation in the asset finance space,” with the industry still quite reliant on manual overheads.

However, it is a difficult industry to digitise as it is a complex market, according to Common, with different parties involved, an asset that must be assessed, different assets in each transaction, so no deal is exactly the same: “all of that complexity actually makes it quite a hard thing to digitise”.

Complexity means that the industry is still very reliant on people skills, but Nivo thinks the opportunity to digitise in this space sits in the communication between all the parties involved in a transaction: “Where there's people, then there's communication, and where there is communication there is wasted effort, things that could be made better and enhanced and improved.”

Nivo’s vision is to improve the communication channels of the value chain by linking it to a messaging tool, like those used by millions of mobile phone users every day such as WhatsApp and Messenger and like office collaboration tools such as Teams and Slack.

While there is a new generation of mobile phones business users in the pipeline, there is still some resistance towards relying on mobile phones for customers. Common noted that: “You will always find resistance to new technologies in any scenario, change is always difficult. As an innovator, you have to find the community of people in the industry who also want to innovate and want to change the way things are done to make them better. Those are the people that prove the benefits of new technologies that then leads to mass adaption.”

Nivo’s aim is to find the ‘early adopters’ in the industry and prove the value of new technology. Once people start to see the value, then the technology can take hold.

Common is very confident that mobile messaging apps are the way forward for the asset finance industry bringing convenience and added value, and that “when people do start using it, they'll see that added value and understand that their customers want to interact with their organisations in a convenient way.”


Nivo’s Common believes that, following the initial hype around AI with ChatGPT, the interest in AI is starting to plateau in its adoption curve. People are now asking what AI can deliver for them and where does the value sit in it. Like other technologies, the user needs to see where the proven values and benefits lie.

Common sees the co-pilot model as the most immediate opportunity for AI in the asset finance sector, to support certain activities such as decompiling emails, identity verification, and drafting lending and underwriting cases as a time-saving tool. The main use of AI in the short-term, according to Common, is to support human roles and make them more efficient.

Common highlighted the ability of machine learning to analyse data and flag up any unusual patterns and activity. Such a tool is particularly useful in fraud detection and prevention. However, Common cautioned that there will be a war of AI with fraudsters using the technology to exploit the systems put in place by the financial services industry. Keeping up to date with new technologies is essential to prevent companies being a target.

The challenges facing the asset finance industry from new technology and AI come from the rapid development and change in technology along with the high cost, according to Common. Financial service companies used to build their own technology but that is no longer possible economically. The industry needs to find best of breed specialists who have built the tech, invested the significant sums of money and learnt the hard lessons already.

In its aim to make communication and collaboration as efficient and effective as possible, Nivo is linking to other technologies in the market that can support this goal and make them accessible to their clients.

Brokers and technology

Nivo’s communication messaging tool was initially built around the broker community. But within the channel, particularly with many smaller brokers, there has not been the uptake in technology. Brokers have been reluctant to spend money on tech which they often see as unnecessary in their dealings with customers.

“There isn’t that drive from smaller brokers to embrace technology,” according to Common, with tech not sitting at the top of their agenda.

Traditional smaller brokerages who have built a highly effective market are still key players in the industry because they are offering a very valuable service for the sector. And Common doesn’t see that changing.

Brokers have consistently proven themselves to be an effective channel to market. But they still need to look at what the fintech innovators are doing to help them develop and grow digitally. This is how markets change, according to Common. If the traditional brokers do not adopt the new technologies used by fintechs, then they could start bleeding market share to their fintech competitors.

Bigger brokers, on the other hand, want to grow more efficiently, according to Common. “The majority of business cases that we deploy into is companies who want to grow but don’t want to increase their operation proportionally,” added Common. “Bigger brokers tend to have that growth mindset and want a greater share of the market without bringing in new staff and the associated cost, resulting in the use of technology to fulfil their needs.”

Funder-broker collaboration tool

With a reluctance to invest in technology, Nivo adjusted their focus away from the broker, instead selling direct to lenders who could empower their brokers with new technologies through Nivo.

As opposed to lender portals, Nivo’s digital application allows lenders to go further with tech, offering a better experience for the broker, the customer, and the whole end-to-end journey.

In an industry built around networking and market connections, Nivo’s messaging tool encourages the communication and collaboration of the customer-broker-lender channel into a consolidated, accessible, secure, compliant and auditable end-to-end solution.

Common pointed out that ‘early adopter’ lenders initially used the messaging tool for their direct sales channel but are now successfully embedding the technology into their broker channels, delivering a “step change” in the industry.

“We’re looking to introduce technology to enable a better experience for both sides that is more efficient and convenient,” added Common.

With the Nivo Funder-Broker collaboration tool, Common highlighted that “we’ve proven that if you've got a consumer messaging-based channel that's secure and has all of these functionalities built into it, it is going to make the collection of data, documents, evidence and approvals more efficient and more effective.”

In an industry where organisations need to communicate and collaborate to create a complete end-to-end journey, a single tool that gives materially more value can only be a good thing for the whole asset finance sector.

Common sees asset finance as “a human-technology sector,” where the human relationship is of paramount importance but, when partnered with technology, it can provide even greater efficiencies, compliance and security for the entire journey.

For more information on Nivo’s Funder Broker collaboration tool, visit their website at