When Credit isn’t the Answer...

Shiona Crichton - Moneyline CEO

6th June 2024

Despite the fact Moneyline need to lend money to stay in business, we know that credit isn’t always the answer. 

Once a customer has been declined for a loan, their need for credit doesn’t go away. We are seeing more and more people apply for loans to pay for everyday essentials, like utilities and food – things they should NOT need credit for. Low-income households are disproportionately impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, with weekly grocery shop spending increasing by 25% in the last 2 years. Utility arrears in the UK have risen by 20% in the last 12 months alone! Worryingly, more people are going to illegal money lenders or very high-cost credit providers to get the cash they need to solve their immediate problem. 

Like most lenders, we signpost to advice services for all declines. However, we don’t believe this is enough anymore – it leaves too many people with poor outcomes and in vulnerable situations. 

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Moneyline and InBest have been working together on a solution to support customers who are declined and need cash for essentials. For many people, we know that some personalised bite-size actions may be all they need to get back on track, rather than generic signposting to an already overwhelmed advice sector. 

Solving the Short-Term Problem 

When someone is declined, you have a very small window of opportunity to engage them in a continuing journey which does not end in a loan. They need to know quickly that you can help, without filling in lots of forms. Financial stress reduces cognitive thinking and makes people feel very overwhelmed. The solution needs to be simple, clear and quick. 

We use the loan application data to identify the emergency support customers may be eligible for and make the journey to access this as quick and easy as possible. Customers using the portal can currently: 

  • Apply for grants, including the Moneyline hardship grant
  • View emergency support for their water and energy. 
  • Find their nearest food bank
  • Check if they are eligible for any extra benefits. 

Improving Long-Term Resilience 

Increasing someone’s income builds their long-term financial resilience and reduces the chances they will need emergency credit in the future. There are plenty of opportunities to increase UK household income, with an estimated 8 million households missing out on £23 billion in benefits, nearly £3,000 per household. The challenge is that it is hard to engage people in applying for benefits as it takes between 2 and 5 weeks to process, which doesn’t help those needing immediate cash for essentials. However, securing government benefits is crucial for building long-term financial resilience and ensuring customers are not vulnerable in the future. 

The Money Toolkit portal is designed having this situation in mind. Once customers have addressed their short-term emergency needs, we engage with them to help them apply for long-term financial support. We send reminders on the next actions they need to take, making the process as easy as possible by allowing them to focus on one step at a time.  

 Money Toolkit 

We launched the portal six weeks ago, and we have already helped thousands of people to get the support they needed when they needed it. 

  • 1,000 customers use the portal every week. 
  • We have provided £15,000 in emergency support for vulnerable customers, over 50% of this to pay for food and utilities. 
  • 50 customers have already shared their insights with us.

One customer said “In the past if I have been declined for a loan there has been no other help so it’s great that Moneyline offers this. I used the grant for groceries and found the local foodbank offers a pantry service if you sign up  

Last week this solution won the ‘Eureka’ prize for the most original tech adaptation at the FCA Financial Inclusion Tech sprint.

What’s next?  

The Money Toolkit bridges the gap between addressing short-term cash needs and building long-term financial resilience by maximising income.  Over the next few months, we will work on improving the current journey by offering more short-term options to support customers when a loan is not the answer. We will also work on creating a long-term journey that supports them to a stage where they feel their financial resilience has improved. 

This is not just a solution for Moneyline. Our joint venture will be working with like-minded organisations to improve the outcomes of many more customers in the UK. 

If you want to find out more, please reach out to us at shiona@moneyline-uk.com or at manu@inbest.ai.

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