ClearScore CEO: “I don't like being bucketed as a fintech”

By Aisling Finn on Monday 4 May 2020

Digital Banking

Justin Basini shares his thoughts on revenue, paid subscriptions, open banking and how ClearScore is coping with lockdown.

ClearScore CEO: “I don't like being bucketed as a fintech”
Image source: Justin Basini/ClearScore

Justin Basini is an expert on data, privacy and fintech so it’s no wonder he co-founded ClearScore, an app that lets customers see their credit score for free and, most recently, scan the dark web for breached information.

Since its launch back in 2015, London-based ClearScore is now used by customers in South Africa, India, Australia and the UK and has grown to over 13m users.

AltFi caught up with Justin (over video chat) at the end of last week to see how ClearScore is coping and what's on the cards for the future.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

Just over a year ago rival credit score provider Experian's planned takeover of ClearScore was scrapped and the company returned to "Plan A" and forgot about the chances of a sale.

When asked if he'd consider a sale or even fundraising again in the future, CEO of ClearScore Justin Basini, told AltFi: "Never say never, but our business is very different to the normal sort of fintech."

"I don't like being bucketed in as a fintech because in reality we only had about £30m of capital. So when people ask 'Are you Series A? Or Series B?' it's not relevant to the way we have capitalised and how we run the company," he added.

ClearScore has not had continuously fundraise to stay afloat, instead, it relies on income generated through the promotion of certain credit cards and deals. 

Tightening the purse strings

Not unlike many businesses up and down the country, however, ClearScore is feeling the coronavirus-related financial pinch.

Basini told AltFi: "We've seen a pretty significant reduction in revenue, driven by a withdrawal of credit from the marketplace. There's been a huge tightening of credit policy withdrawal of lending options." 

"And given that our business model is helping people to choose the right credit for them, that becomes pretty difficult from a revenue perspective."

ClearScore's CEO reassured that despite currently experiencing a reduction in revenue, the company is still doing ok: "Luckily we've been profitable for a few years. It's not like we're burning cash."

Basini added that because of the ongoing pandemic, ClearScore had to furlough 20 staff, largely from its call centres.

Paying for a premium

With the launch of ClearScore Protect, also came the opportunity to move towards offering more paid subscriptions.

ClearScore Protect is currently free but a £2.99/month version, called ClearScore Protect Realtime, offers a more comprehensive dive into the dark web to search for passwords and other information.

"I've always wanted to do subscriptions, but I didn't want to do it too early," Basini told AltFi.

"The core of ClearScore is built on making credit score reports free when historically credit bureaus used to charge people a lot of money to see their own data."

Basini also added that the company has long had interest from its users to roll out more paid services but that historically it hasn't been able to afford to.

Keyworker credit

As well as the launch of ClearScore Protect, Basini also plans on bringing out a product aimed specifically at essential workers.

"We have prioritised some of the longer-term bets we were making, but we've changed our product roadmap to accelerate some of the things that we think are going to be adopted faster," Basini told AltFi.

The team at ClearScore are hoping to roll out a 'credit for key workers' function as early as this week to "continue to supply credit options to the part of the UK employment base that is not at risk of losing their jobs anytime soon."

As well as the products mentioned, Basini also confirmed ClearScore is putting more effort into open banking.

Open banking 

In the interview last week, Basini told AltFi that he had seen an increase in demand for open banking services, particularly since the outbreak of Covid-19. 

Basini told AltFi: "Lenders need faster, real-time data on consumers because credit reports and scores are often aged by about two months, sometimes three months, and in the current environment that’s too slow." 

“We're putting a lot more effort into open banking and our lenders for the first time and our lenders are starting to really be interested in taking that data," he added. 

So there you have it, ClearScore like, any other business, is feeling the financial pinch of coronavirus but still have a lot more to offer including a platform specifically for essential workers and paid subscriptions. 

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