Financial Inclusion through Innovation...

Shiona Crichton - Moneyline CEO

14th June 2024

In our previous blog, we talked about the importance of matching the product and service you offer to meet the needs of the customer.

We have taken this one step further by giving customers more financial control and transparency over their payments. The hope is that we can help more organisations have confidence to offer low-income households access to their products and services.  

Financial inclusion is a growing concern. There was the rapid move to digital due to lockdown closely followed by the cost-of-living crisis, pushing more people to budget weekly just to manage! Many of our customers pay for things in cash to keep financial control which means they have a lack of digital footprint which excludes them from automated decision products. Many low-income households don’t trust Direct Debits as amounts can be changed by the supplier and this is especially true recently with the changing utility prices, making budgeting even harder. Falling behind with bills and paying things with cash often leads to people suggesting that low-income households can’t manage their money, when in fact organisations are offering systems that don’t work for this customer group. 

We want to tackle this real problem by thinking differently, letting our customers make more frequent payments when they can afford it and giving them the information to make these decisions. We want to help get them out of the cycle of debt and missed payments we see with monthly Direct Debits, which often results in poor credit scores. We want to help build a digital footprint by offering a way to pay digitally that works for them, meaning they don’t need to pay for things in cash. In time, this should mean they can be offered more products and services that rely on that digital footprint.  

VRP allows a customer more flexible, frequent payments that align to their cashflow. Alongside our cost calculator, which will show customers how much their cost of credit will change by making under or over payments, the customer can make more informed decisions. 

With our VRP payment partner Ordo, we’ve been working on a journey that works for our customer. It’s still early days but we are seeing some really great results that bust the myths for offering VRP to customers. 

We have just finished phase 1 of a 3-year trial, supported by The Aviva Foundation. We have 140 customers currently using VRP as their payment method and 320 customers have used our cost calculator in a 6-week soft launch phase for this tool. Our trial has already revealed significant positive outcomes that we wanted to share: 

Myth 1: Customers will not change to VRP, they’ll choose to pay using traditional ways they trust. 

Our customers disagreed: 

  • 75% of customers asked moved to VRP 
  • 93% said they found it easier to make payments using VRP  
  • 67% said they worried less about money using VRP 
  • 80% said they would recommend VRP to others 

‘I have been able to manage all my other payments better and have found I have been more in control because of this. I can pay when I can and some more if I want to’

Myth 2: Customers will not make their payments if you give them increased flexibility. 

Allowing customers to make more frequent payments when they can afford it is proving successful, as we are already seeing our customers that used to miss multiple payments now actually perform better. 

  • 6% more customers made their first payment on time.  
  • Arrears are 10% less, compared to our Direct Debit customers at the same point in the journey. 

‘This has really helped me more recently, lots of things came up that I had to pay and was stressing me out. I sent the payment next week when I had the money, it stopped me worrying about missing a payment’

Myth 3: Low-income customers are not interested in the cost of credit 

Our customers told us they would find it useful to be able to see how changing their payment amount would affect their cost of credit.  

  • 52% of those who viewed our calculator used it to adjust their payments. 
  • £20 was the average savings on their total cost of credit! 

‘I always withdraw all my money from the cash machine and pay for things with cash. I leave this money in now when it comes each week, and then pay it to you’

What’s next for Phase 2? 

We will offer more customers VRP as an option so we can continue to test the effectiveness of flexible payments, measuring payment performance and understanding how it makes customers feel about their financial situation. We will look to understand if there are specific customer groups this payment method works for and some that it doesn’t. 

After our soft launch, we will now be launching our payment calculator to all our customers. We will continue to adapt it based on user experience and customer insight. 

Our VRP trial has been shortlisted for ‘Best use of Technology’ by Credit Strategy and we’ll be sharing our findings and raising awareness as panel speakers at Credit Week next week. 

In Summary 

VRP brings to life the transformative potential of promoting financial inclusion by empowering low-income households to take control of their financial choices, offering greater financial stability. Our customers are making good choices when they are given the tools to do this as shown in our early findings with our Cost Calculator. 

As financial service providers look to the future, embracing VRP and similar innovations will be crucial in building a more inclusive and equitable financial system. Get in touch if you want to play a part in our trial. 

That’s the last of this blog series, I hope you enjoyed it! Watch out for our Social Impact report which will be available next week.

Please feel free to contact me directly on shiona@moneyline-uk.com or through direct messaging.  

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