Chutes And Ladders: How LendUp Plays The Lending Game

What do you get when you combine the ideology of Grameen with the scale and experience of CitiGroup? You get Sasha Orloff, the CEO and co-founder of LendUp, an alternative payday lending service focused on better educating a segment of the population that is “inherently distrusting” of financial institutions. MPD’s Karen Webster spoke with Orloff about LendUp’s mission, its loan offerings, repayments and more.

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Chutes And Ladders: How LendUp Plays The Lending Game

Sasha Orloff got his start in the financial world working on a transaction processing startup in the late 1990s. From there, he went on to work for the Grameen Foundation, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning foundation that hopes to serve the very poor around the world. Then Orloff went on to work for CitiGroup, one of the largest financial institutions in the world.

And so this is the experience Orloff brings with him to LendUp, an alternative payday lender that seeks to both enable and educate those who are stuck in what can seem like a never-ending cycle of debt. Orloff has worked with startups, Orloff has worked to provide financial services for the poor, and Orloff has experience with risk management on a large scale.

Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster spoke with Orloff about the inspiration behind LendUp, how it’s able to provide payday loans to a unique segment of the population and why providing a financial education to its customers is an integral part of its mission.

“I feel very fortunate to have had exposure for years of my life on both ends of the spectrum,” Orloff said. “And I want to create a ladder, or a pathway, between these two different approaches and different technology solutions.”

And so that is why Orloff, along with his step brother Jacob Rosenberg, founded LendUp, and, respectively, became its chief executive and technology officers.

“At LendUp we think of financial products in one of two ways: chutes and ladders. Ladders help people up, and chutes keep people down,” Orloff said.

“One of our core focuses is that we want every product we offer to be a ladder. And we measure that at long term scale, meaning, ‘will our customers be better off a year from now?’

LendUp offers a service commonly associated with the unbanked, but, as of now, requires borrows to have a bank account. Orloff says that for now that’s the only segment LendUp will target, but he notes that it’s comprised of nearly 15 million people who took payday loans last year.

Not only will LendUp offer those people a secure and intuitive way to responsibility take out loans of up to $250, but it also offers a “six-part financial boot camp” to further educate customers on the financial system.

“Their looking for a very fast, safe, very easy way to understand what the borrowing experience is, but they want to do it from the convenience of their home instead of going down to a corner store … that are sometimes not in the nicest neighborhood,” Orloff said. “They want the convenience and the safety and the dignity of doing it on their computer or on their mobile phone.”

To listen to more Orloff on LendUp’s lending policies, its financial education offerings and more, listen to the podcast below.


Sasha Orloff
co-founder and CEO, LendUp

Sasha Orloff is the CEO and Co-founder of LendUp. Orloff has been in the financial services industry for 15 years and has worked for the Grameen Bank, The World Bank, and most recently, Citi. He is focused on expanding financial services to new segments or markets, and finding ways to harness big data and new technology to improve lives. Sasha has a B.S. in Applied Math and Economics and a minor in Behavioral Psychology from University of California, San Diego and an M.B.A from Georgetown University.

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