SME underwriting research


4 months

English Dutch French
100€ - 120€ /day

02/06/2023 - 27/10/2023


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AREA42 task description

Task title: SME underwriting research

PO number: 4500019060


  • Brussels
  • Remote location possible (this over-rules the stipulation in the Framework contract that “The Freelancer undertakes to provide the Services at the premises of the Customer …”)

Role objective:

Research country specific data providers that can either replace or be an interesting addition for data enrichment to the main credit bureau that AREA42 uses for automatic underwriting. Share the experience and provide alternative ideas for algorithmic credit limit calculation and underwriting rules.

Task objectives:

  • Research country specific data providers with main focus on credit bureaus and national databases of company reports (previous research of AREA42 and Credendo should be used as an input and the research should focus on new, more specific findings)
  • Research country specific KYC and KYB requirements for SME onboarding
  • Proposal of algorithmic rules in SME underwriting
  • Proposal of manual rules and practices in SME underwriting

Task steps:

Phase 1: Research focused on 5 selected EU countries and algorithmic assessment:

  • National specifics of publicly available data for SMEs:
    • What are the national business identifiers? How are they formatted?
    • What are the different business types (e.g. sole prop / LLC / etc.)?
    • What are the reporting obligations of each country? (who must report, in which frequency, what does it include etc.)
    • Which institutions provide publicly available financial data of companies. How can this data be accessed (is there an API or web interface?) What is the format of output? Is the output unified in terms of format and content (i.e. Is it possible to automize getting certain attributes from the reports?)
    • What country specific government data is available for use (e.g. chamber of commerce)?
    • What is the source of Credit Safe records?
    • How do country specific reporting requirements impact the content and frequency of Credit Safe data?
  • Compare results (on small sample of selected companies) of Creditsafe and alternative credit bureaus and recommend best approach based on data availability
  • What are the most common KYC and KYB requirements for SME onboarding? Are there any country specific options of identity verification?
  • Proposal of algorithmic rules (can be very market specific and there are many possible approaches. The goal is to provide inspiration and second opinion to existing plans – coordinate with Risk&Data manager):
    • Suggest algorithm for credit limit calculation (take data availability into consideration and coordinate with Risk&Data manager if any concrete specifications needed)
    • Suggest rejection criteria based on financials/financial ratios (rejections or triggers for manual underwriting)
    • Share the best practise (if any) for checking connections with other companies (with the seller, with other buyers in the database or checking the creditworthiness of related companies – recognizing bigger group and its overall creditworthiness etc.) and provide opinion what could be automized.

Phase 2: Research focused on remaining eurozone countries and manual assessment:

  • Continue with research on data sources in other geographies (focus will be specified based on the results of first phase)
  • Proposal of manual reviews:
    • What should trigger manual reviews?
    • What to expect from manual reviews? When does it have added value compared to automatic UW
    • What information should be requested from the business?
    • What should the manual review criteria for approval and credit limit assignment be? What should be processed based on guidelines and what should be kept fully in domain of manual underwriter?
    • After finishing this phase, is there anything missed in phase 1 that could be further automized?
    • What is the ideal profile of the underwriter and what’s the best way to search for this profile?

Task deliverables & milestones:

  • Output for phase 1 provided
  • Output for phase 2 provided

Desired experience:

  • Experience with credit analyses & credit underwriting of SMEs
  • Experience with algorithmic decision making
  • Experience with working with credit bureaus and alternative data providers
  • Experience with credit risk assessment covering different geographies and market segments

Salary range:

  • 120€/day
  • Job subject to contract via proUnity (AREA42 procurement platform), with monthly timesheets and invoicing
  • Invoices should be CC to invoices@area42.tech

Work hours, travel requirements, etc.:

  • Work up to 41 days for this SoW (16 days in phase 1 and 25 days in phase 2, approx. 2 days a week). As a freelancer, you are free to choose when you wish to work with AREA42 or to take holidays.
  • Travels to support the development of the SoW (not expected for this assignment)
  • For administrative simplicity all travel assignments are arranged by AREA42 and also the costs are carried directly by AREA42.


Company description: AREA42

AREA42 vision:

We work in a smooth B2B trade environment empowered by new technologies

At AREA42, we create, innovate, and manage solutions for a fluid, risk-savvy trade environment. We support companies who want to recode trade for the digital era.

Together with disruptors, technologists and visionaries, we build a more fertile trade environment. We co-design ambitious visions. We experiment and launch new solutions. We turn innovations into new growth engines.

We are backed by Credendo, the Export Credit Agency from Belgium and the most trusted leader in trade credit insurance and surety bonds.

​AREA42 Focus:

Our current investment thesis revolves around big untapped opportunities related to:

·      Platforms and marketplaces,

·      SMEs and freelancers,

·      Innovative credit data and machine learning,

·      Blockchain and other new trade paradigms.


For us, success can be measured in the upgrades we offer to trade ecosystems. We do not see technology as an objective in itself, but we believe it is key to unlock radical improvements for trade and accompanying risk. We take inspiration from diverse universes. We try to hack things, fail sometimes, learn always, and thrive when we co-innovate with partners who share our passion.

AREA42 Structure:

AREA42 is an ecosystem with 2 highly complementary zones: AREA42 innovation lab and AREA42 accelerator. Each zone contributes to a successful AREA42 innovation ecosystem.

·      Our innovation lab aims at growing a high-quality network of trusted partners, open to co-innovation and passionate about upgrading trade; it takes a lean start-up approach to experiment with new ideas and incubate them to become validated product concepts with a market fit. The learnings, successes and failures contribute to the feedback-loop and is shared with our innovation community.

·      Our accelerator works like a growth factory. We take validated product concepts and turn them into new lines of business. Our accelerator team works with the same powerful means as the best high-growth start-ups in order to scale the most ambitious ventures in trade.

Our first basecamp is Brussels, but our playground is Europe and the world.

AREA42 Culture:

We are a diverse team based on 3 important values: respect, curiosity, and boldness. We believe in mutual trust, entrepreneurship, collective creativity, technological excellence and solid execution. For us, these values are essential to creating high-impact innovations, which we need to deliver successful long-term growth, which will help spread an innovation culture in trade.


Often, we do not know exactly what we are building. However, we always start with an exciting vision and we iterate as fast as possible to confront it with reality. We have faith in the science of experimentation and in the lean start-up approach. We invite and welcome innovators of all kind to contribute and to have an impact. We share together the benefits of our successes.



SME underwriting research - Senior


English - Full professional proficiency

Dutch - Nice to have

French - Nice to have