How a fintech is helping people to receive affordable loans
The University of Edinburgh and Scottish fintech Inbest are collaborating on a research project that aims to address the challenge of accessing income benefits and affordable finance swiftly for those individuals who have suddenly been made financially vulnerable as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The project has been awarded a Data-Driven Innovation Grant Innovation and also has the support of Scotcash and Advice Direct Scotland.
The project will propose a new credit assessment method that takes into account the amount of benefits that the applicant is entitled to receive and will suggest a repayment schedule based on the applicant’s timeframe of receiving the benefits and their expense behaviour. This method will help affordable lenders to make better short-term lending decisions for individuals who otherwise may fail to meet the standard credit risk models. The project will leverage on Inbest Benefits calculator and its banking analytics platform to calculate individuals’ benefits entitlement and financial situation.
The project came to light as a response to the priorities underlined by the Scottish Fintech Consumer Panel - an industry group set up by Fintech Scotland that aims to support inclusive fintech business development by connecting citizen advocate groups into the fintech ecosystem. The consumer panel played a fundamental part in the project proposal by defining the project scope and connecting the participants.
Raffaella Calabrese, Associate Professor at University of Edinburgh Business School, said:
“We are delighted to work on such a pressing issue for Scottish citizens as, in the last month, Scotland has seen 130,000 new applications for Universal Credit, compared with 20,000 the same time last year. Our objective is helping financially vulnerable customers to access cheaper sources of financing and improve their resilience to financial shocks. Customers’ credit capacity will be further enhanced as the lending assessment will also include the potential impact of financial recommendations such as their benefits entitlement”.
Manu Peleteiro, CEO of Inbest, said:
“This project is another great example of how Scottish institutions and companies are collaborating to develop data-driven solutions to improve financial inclusion. We are looking forward to sharing the lessons learned from this project on the Fintech Consumer Panel, raise awareness of financial vulnerability and drive new initiatives to improve design access and management of benefits and affordable loans”.
Nicola Anderson, Strategic Development Director at FinTech Scotland welcomed the initiative.
“This initiative demonstrates the real value of bringing citizen and consumer needs to the forefront of FinTech development. Using focused research and data analytics, the collaboration between Inbest, the consumer groups and the University of Edinburgh’s has helped develop an enterprise that can help people at a time of crisis and real need. It's another great example of how inclusive innovation in financial services can deliver good outcomes for people and society”.