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Supported by Mark Cuban Otto raises $4.5 million in order to convert automobile equity into loans

Otto, a fintech firm that intends to allow consumers to get loans by tapping into the equity in their car, has secured $4.5 million in a preliminary round of investment.

The Dallas-based firm is developing a mobile platform that will allow individuals to borrow money against their cars at the same interest rate as regular credit cards. Otto, unlike other cards, will not impose fees or overdraft fees, and applicants will not be required to provide their FICO credit ratings. Otto’s mobile app, which is expected to arrive in early 2022, will allow users to remotely check and collateralize their vehicles.

The startup’s seed funding was spearheaded by Uncommon Capital, with Pelion Ve joining in.

After a friend of Utkov’s was victimised by a “predatory” title loan arrangement, George Utkov, Jordan Miller, and Daniel Ashy came up with the idea for the firm.

“Every year, millions of individuals take out what are known as title loans, which are when you own your automobile outright and pledge the title of your car as security against the loan,” Miller explained. “These loans are for a period of 30 days. They have an APR of 500 percent or more and really destroy people.”

Utkov’s acquaintance received a title loan on a truck worth between $15,000 and $20,000 after losing his job during COVID. He lost his automobile when he couldn’t pay it back.

“It opened our eyes to the broad world of lending.”

At the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, the three started working on Otto. Following Utkov’s friend’s experience, they discovered that people with unpredictable earnings or who are new immigrants, for example, have very few alternatives when they need money. As a result, individuals are frequently forced to turn to payday and title lenders, pawn shops, and other non-bank credit lenders, who demand “exorbitant” costs.

With Otto, the friends/founders hope to provide individuals with another choice, one that would improve rather than worsen their financial circumstances. The interest rate it charges may fluctuate, but the maximum is set at 24 percent, according to the firm.

Otto picked this asset class because automobiles are frequently the most popular and largest asset possessed by those who are financially suffering and underbanked.

Users will be able to apply for standard interest credit cards and get pre-approved “within minutes” using the company’s mobile app, which are roughly 96 percent cheaper than the loans normally accessible to this user. The consumer is then taken through a step-by-step procedure of remotely verifying their details and activating their new Otto credit card using company-provided hardware.

Credit cards can be used to pay for in-store and online purchases, as well as to develop credit and earn incentives. One of the objectives is to assist users in achieving their goals.

“We aim to give people who need it the most financial mobility, regardless of their credit history, and help them move forward in their life by offering them credit choices that they may not otherwise be able to access,” Utkov said.

The Otto team will watch a user’s financial health and inform them things like what they’re spending their money on and to be prepared for specific costs based on their prior charge history, in addition to helping them establish credit.

Miller explained, “Really, what we’re developing is a system that is 95 percent cheaper than the loan products that these folks use every day.”

The firm claims that “repayment arrangements are designed to fit the user’s individual needs.” Users may also utilise the site to trade in their automobile for a lower-value vehicle.

“Otto will not repossess a car unless all other alternatives (such as a repayment plan, vehicle trade-in, and so on) have been exhausted,” executives said.

They want to use their investors’ resources as part of their plan to spread the word. Mark Cuban, for example, is already assisting Otto in forming local relationships with firms that provide complementary services such as financial literacy and credit rehabilitation and are actively conducting outreach in communities, according to Utkov.

Otto has proved to be a gamechanger in the loan industry also by helping customers get a great experience and also financial literacy conducting reach in the communities All my best wishes to them.

Shishir Gupta, Founder and CEO, StartupLanes

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