Fighting fraud and unpaid bills is the objective of Meelo, a fintech company based in Lille and founded by three entrepreneurs: Laurent Kocinski, Mohamed Hadiri and Jérôme Lascombe. The first spent 15 years in consumer credit companies, the second is an expert in preventive risks and the third is the co-founder of the Hopscotch agency and Wiztopic. “The creation of Meelo was born out of a two-fold observation,” explained Laurent Kocinski in a preamble. “In France, fraud and irregularities, such as unpaid bills or identity theft, cost $6.74 billion (€6 billion) a year. Yet only 1% of customers turn out to be bad payers.”
This observation leads to another one. According to Laurent Kocinski, all the tools currently used by companies are based on these bad payers. In other words, the fight against fraud and the risk of non-payment tends to exclude atypical profiles or those wrongly considered as less reassuring, even if they pay their bills well. This discriminatory approach also represents a real loss of business for professionals. “Our core business is to identify good payers,” insisted Laurent Kocinski. “It’s all a question of balance: we have to make commitments more responsible in order to combat excessive debt without closing access to young people and workers who are not on permanent contracts.”
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Artificial intelligence used to establish a customer’s profile in real time
Meelo has, therefore, developed a tool to secure transactions, identify possible fraudsters and predict the risk of non-payment. Its technology is based on artificial intelligence techniques to establish a customer profile in real-time. It takes into account data collected from the company – such as purchase, browsing, and payment history, declarative data provided by the customer or external data, such as public information accessible online.
“That’s 300 pieces of information per customer, both private individuals and companies, which allow us to establish a scoring.” Laurent continued: “Take the case of property rental. The first criterion is to earn three times the amount of rent. However, just because you earn (€10,000) every month doesn’t mean you’re a good payer. The model is based on a combination of criteria that makes it possible to determine in real-time the good payers, the bad payers… but also those who require additional research.”
Fraud management is predictive and makes it possible “to divide the risk of fraud by three,” according to the startup. An image and character recognition tool, connected to a site’s interface, also makes it possible to analyze supporting documents automatically and in real-time. “Meelo processes the documents and then provides a decision,” said Laurent Kocinski. And when the learning machine suggests additional checks, for example, to verify the existence of a customer by calling him, the human takes over.
Saving time for teams and customers
This approach appealed to Boulanger Location, a subsidiary of the distributor Boulanger specializing in the rental of electronic products or household appliances. The subsidiary had formalized a partnership a little over a year ago, but production was delayed due to the COVID-19. Operational since June, it has been implemented within the customer journey, at the shopping cart and payment stages. “The tool was co-developed with us, we were its first users and we spent a lot of time on it,” explained Guillaume Caron, the manager of Boulanger Location.
Meelo allows the teams “to evaluate the ability of customers to use rental quickly and fairly,” continued Guillaume Caron. The brand offers 1,300 references for rent, from a washing machine to a smartphone and television, for periods ranging from 1 to 3 years. An eco-responsible positioning, which is also to be linked with the granting of products for rent. “Refusing to rent to a customer who cannot pay is also proof of responsibility.” Indeed, the legislator asks companies to strengthen the solvency study (mortgage, rent, subscriptions…) while limiting the use of personal data.
80,000 products are currently leased. By processing supporting documents in an automated way, the tool also improves the productivity of teams who can spend more time on value-added tasks. “It also saves time for the customer,” said Guillaume Caron. However, not at any price. Each request is supervised by a member of staff, who explained why the acceptance of a file is not immediate. “It is above all a tool to help, which does not replace the human eye,” he insisted. “We have professionalized their preventive risk chain,” added Laurent Kocinski.
The accommodation on French territory
Currently, the fintech company’s clients include banks, insurance companies, e-merchants and has attracted Apple, Decathlon, LeroyMerlin, Cardif, Cleodis and Sofinco. “We establish a diagnosis for each client, with a turnkey solution or modules interrogated through APIs,” Laurent Kocinski explained. It also hopes that its RGPD-compliant solution, with hosting and storage in France, will be a strong argument against international competitors.
In a post-Covid context, Meelo’s tool is all the more relevant. Companies have seen online sales increase and are more concerned about it. Fraud is also on the rise, while on the consumer side, the deterioration of purchasing power should lead professionals not to “close the floodgates”, continued the founder of Meelo. The young company employs a dozen people and does not rule out raising funds to strengthen its position in France.
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First published in L’USINEDIGITALE, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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