By Amelia Isaacs on Friday 4 November 2022
ClearScore CEO Justin Basini and Zopa CEO Jaidev Janardana took to the stage at the AltFi Lending Summit to discuss the 2025 Fintech Pledge.
Three years. 10 million positive financial actions. That is the aim of the “2025 Fintech Pledge”.
Jaidev Janardana, CEO of Zopa, and Justin Basini, CEO of ClearScore, launched the initiative in September as a cross-industry mission to help consumers in the UK struggling with the worsening cost-of-living crisis.
Just a month later, 10 more companies joined the pledge, with partners including Tandem Bank, Snoop, Hargreaves Lansdown and in a step away from the fintech space, Google Cloud.
Janardana and Basini joined us at the AltFi Lending Summit to discuss the pledge, helping consumers improve their financial well-being and the responsibility of the fintech community to step up and help their users.
The essence of the pledge is encouraging companies – predominantly fintechs but also other financial institutions and tech companies – to help consumers make “positive” changes to their finances.
These actions fall under four areas: savings, credit building, debt consolidation and utility marketplaces.
The goal is to collectively hit 10 million actions by 2025, but while the idea for the pledge was new this year, this ethos of helping consumers make positive financial decisions has clearly been in place at both ClearScore and Zopa for a long time.
“With almost five million users logging into ClearScore globally every month, we see it as a real privilege and opportunity to help those users optimise their financial lives,” Basani said.
“And that's always been the mission of the company – to help make the world finance just that little bit easier, and in the next few years, that mission I think is going to be more relevant than ever.”
“In terms of the idea for the coalition, it was new, but I would say it was always in our DNA,” Janardana said.
Is it the government’s responsibility?
Both Janardana and Basini called for stability from the government, saying that while it might be the responsibility of the government to help consumers, it is still the responsibility of fintechs to help their customers.
“Stability, I think, is important as a backdrop because uncertainty means that people don't want to do anything,” Basini said.
“We saw that when we've gone through the last eight weeks, that lenders are very nervous because of that uncertainty. So I think they have a role to play, but that doesn't mean that we don't have a role to play as well.
“We’ve all got a responsibility to hold consumers' hand through the process, and that’s everyone’s responsibility.”
Basini described it as a “coming of age” for fintech, to mature from a young, disruptive industry into one which is stepping up.
“Now with the scale that we’ve got, especially in the UK, that gives us the responsibility and the opportunity to really step forward as an industry and really help UK consumers at a time when things are going to be difficult.”
Basini added that, irrespective of what the incumbents might be doing, given fintechs reach about 25 to 30 million consumers across all businesses, that responsibility also falls on them as much as anyone else.
Janardana noted there has not been stability in the UK for four years, and said that regardless of whether the government is doing something or not, companies, particularly in financial services should be doing everything they can.
“We genuinely believe that the more people that join hands here, the better,” Janardana said.
“Where we are drawing a line though, is if your business practices don’t align with these things, if your business practices are such that you are trying to make money off your customers this year, if you continue to treat switchers better than existing customers, those kinds of companies are probably less welcome,” he said.
Not naming any names, he pointed to the fact that some incumbents do not fall in line with the views of the pledge – and in response to an audience question regarding high street banks joining, pointed out that no one has expressed an interest.
Both ClearScore and Zopa are doing their part to help contribute to the 10 million positive actions, which are reported to the pledge on a monthly basis.
But in response to a question about whether Zopa would consider branching out into SME lending in addition to its focus on the consumer side of things, Janardana said the company doesn’t have any “concrete plans”.
“There are parts of the market we see as an opportunity for us to enter at some point in time. This technically is one of the things we could theoretically consider because we know that the SME lending market is a very attractive market that we could make a good and important difference to,” Janardana said.
“But it requires, as with most lending, a lot of experience and if we were working with the right partner to have that then that would be very complimentary to us.
“But that’s one among many other things we could say that’s out there that we would love to add on."
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