Experian will be offering its Affordability Passport to organisations, including debt charities and lenders, for free as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Open Banking tool allows people to share their credit report and transaction data via a secure platform, providing a clear picture of an individual’s financial circumstances and commitments in rapid time. It is hoped that organisations will be able to use the tool to identify any customers who could be left vulnerable due to changes in their circumstances and offer them the support they need, such as payment breaks.
The service will be available for free for three months. Organisations already using the Affordability Passport include Money Advice Scotland, with clients now able to quickly share their transaction data with the charity, so they can offer them the most appropriate advice.
The outbreak of Covid-19 means business are likely to be concerned that many of their more vulnerable customers may be at risk. This is also a time when many businesses may also face a struggle to cope with the volume of customers contacting them as their own staffing levels are reduced.
People who are just managing to make ends meet may fall into debt if they are forced to take time off work due to self-isolation, lack of childcare or loss of employment.
Lisa Fretwell from Experian said: “We are experiencing an extraordinary time and millions of households will be worried about their financial circumstances and how it may change in the months ahead.
“The passport provides a comprehensive picture of someone’s income and expenditure including their credit commitments, giving deeper and richer insight into their situation. By making it widely available, we hope it will help organisations in supporting those who could become financially vulnerable because of the current outbreak.”
Even before the coronavirus emerged, dealing with problem debt is increasingly complex as advisers confront the repercussions of a decade of welfare reform, stagnating incomes, and rising personal debt levels among households on the lowest incomes.
The introduction of Open Banking means it’s now possible to help those with debt problems get access to a complete picture of their financial circumstances in a matter of minutes, so they are prepared for their first appointment and can start getting help straight away. This frees up valuable time for agencies to focus on specialist advice.