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Mogo is a digital lender and banking app that represents the next generation phone-based banking solution for Canadians. It is the leading non-bank financial app in Canada and well positioned in its local market to capitalize on the shift away from traditional banking habits and relationships, especially for the younger borrower.

Mogo specializes in lending products including mortgages with a strong emphasis on transparent, easy to use serves that help Canadians to look after their financial health. Unlike traditional banks, it does not rely on monthly account fees and there is no risk of overdraft charges or hidden interest fees. It is a refreshingly transparent approach to modern banking.

Mogo has demonstrated its ability to win business from millennials, who compose 65% of its 2019 customer base. This is essential for its future growth. In Q3 2019 it reported 925,000 members, which is a 30% year on year gain.

The digital banking and investment revolution

It is our belief that the new generation of banking customers are not going to be wedded to the traditional banking relationships of their parents and grandparents and will consider the digital alternatives that suit them and their lifestyles.

Many banks are closing their bricks and mortar high street branches in cost cutting measures that have been relentless since the Global Financial Crisis. This, combined with technology like the proliferation of the smart phone, has created the opportunity for the challenger brands like Mogo.

Mogo is operating in the Canadian banking market where there is less competition from fintechs than in Europe. It has invested more than C$200 million to date in R&D in a platform which is increasingly looking like a must have for competitor banks.

Why banks need to play catch up?

Mogo is competing in a market which is divided up between some traditional banking brands and a range of credit unions. The Canadian retail banking market is dominated by a clutch of five venerable banks that have been operational for an average of 100 years. Many of these names are playing catch up from a relatively conservative base, both in terms of their technical operations and their client base. This is especially the case with the Canadian credit unions.

Mogo is competing against these names using marketing tactics and branding which many of them have yet to fully grasp. We think this will make it an interesting investment or acquisition target for one or more established players that want to leapfrog ahead of the competition.

ING Direct Canada was acquired by local institution Scotiabank for C$3.5 billion when it reached a customer base of 1.8m. Mogo currently has 925,000 customers (or members as it calls them). While it still has some way to go to reach ING Direct’s market position, based on current growth assumptions (30% yoy in the last set of results), it will become an attractive prospect within the short term.

Is Mogo the Canadian Monzo?

UK investors will be tempted to compare Mogo with Monzo, but the two are operating in quite different markets. Canada is a smaller market with fewer fintechs to compete against (Monzo is fighting for space against the likes of Revolut and Starling Bank). Monzo was crowdfunded while Mogo is already listed on the TSX and NASDAQ (IPO June 2015) and is not burning through investor cash.

Behind the numbers

Mogo has several key competitive elements which we like, and which has made it the leading financial app in Canada by a considerable margin. Firstly, it is not restricting itself to vanilla payment and banking solutions. It is broadening the menu of services it offers to Canadians, especially lending, which is the primary contributor to its revenues.

We believe consumers would prefer to optimize their banking relationships in the future, buying more financial services from one provider rather than having to constantly shop around. Mogo has invested money and thought into developing a product that makes banking and borrowing easier for the user to understand and successfully analyse.

The second key factor is the cost of acquisition. This will be critical for the future success of any digital financial services platform. While automation in the back office can save money and reduce costs, it does not help a brand to acquire more business.

Mogo has the advantage of a relatively low cost of acquisition so far, despite its growth numbers. If it can continue to keep that low compared with some other brands, yet maintain growth rates, within the key Canadian millennial segment, this will make it a valuable target.

Other factors

Mogo is investing into blockchain technology and rolling out a cryptocurrency solution. Bitcoin trading is a popular activity with younger investors, so in that respect it makes sense, although this is not a core activity.

Bitcoin trading has played a role in generating recent share price growth, but there are other product areas that are less risky / cutting edge which the company can still focus on.

Shares broke US$6 on NASDAQ in December 2017 but have not been able to return to that peak since. They have received a significant boost since April however and have almost doubled in value. Several investment banks have target prices in place of approximately C$10 (US$7.50 approx) and Canaccord Genuity has a fair value price in place of C$7.25 (US$5.48 approx).

The fundamentals support more upside if Mogo can continue to provide solid growth numbers, but its real value is going to be the price a potential acquirer will pay for it.

Final thoughts

The fundamentals behind Mogo contribute to a solid growth profile. Significant entrepreneurial money remains invested in the company and the management team is highly experienced in running grown up financial services operations, which is what you need to survive in this business. Mogo has been in operation since 2003 and has matured as a business over that time, only listing in 2015.

Note: Readers should be aware that the data on the Mogo share price available via Google outside North America is not currently correct prior to the Mogo listing in 2015. The data prior to 2015 is being confused with a different company that has no relation to Mogo. Readers are encouraged to seek out alternative data sources.

Stuart Fieldhouse

Stuart Fieldhouse has spent 25 years in journalism and marketing, including as a wealth management editor for the Financial Times group, covering capital markets and international private banking, and as an investment banking correspondent for Euromoney in Hong Kong. He was the founder editor of The Hedge Fund Journal.

Stuart has worked at CMC Markets, supporting the re-launch of its global financial spread betting and CFD trading platforms. He is also the author of two books on trading, published by Financial Times Pearson. Based in The Armchair Trader’s London office, Stuart continues to advise fund managers, private banks, family offices and other financial institutions.

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