Using open banking to provide a timely boost for the nation’s credit scores

by James Lynn, CEO and Co-Founder of BuildMyCreditScore and Currensea

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Having a good credit score is life changing. For many, it can open the door to opportunities they would never have been able to access otherwise, whether it’s getting a mortgage or buying a new car. And access to credit has become more important than ever amidst the current cost of living crisis.


But millions of people across the UK have a low score and thin credit file, and this is leaving them with fewer fair and affordable options when it comes to securing that much-needed loan. Recent research by the Money and Pensions Service reveals that more than nine million adults across the UK were declined for credit in just 12 months, with one in 20 declined three times or more.


Disrupting the market


This isn’t good enough.


That is why we’re now disrupting the market by launching BuildMyCreditScore, a new solution designed to empower users to build their credit scores simply by spending directly from their bank account on small everyday items, using the BuildMyCreditScore debit card.


Developed using the same infrastructure as Currensea (and with the same sharp focus on good customer outcomes), BuildMyCreditScore is a debit card that works with your bank to build your credit score through everyday spending.


Linking securely to a user’s existing current account via open banking technology, the debit card is designed to be used in place of someone’s usual card for small, regular purchases. Whilst these transactions go through immediately, and instant notifications are received showing remaining balance in real time, the money is actually collected via Direct Debit by BuildMyCreditScore around two working days later. Crucially, this allows it to be reported to credit reference agencies, and people can therefore build their credit score by demonstrating their ability to manage rolling outgoings.


We’re shifting the dial. Traditional credit builder products tend to rely on someone making prompt repayments on credit that they have taken out. If they fail to do so for any reason – and they may well be more likely to in today’s volatile economy – they risk falling into debt and further harming their credit score. It’s a vicious cycle.


BuildMyCreditScore shakes up this model by integrating seamlessly with a person’s usual spending habits, enabling them to build their credit score in a safe, risk-free manner through their everyday spending. It’s compatible with all major high street bank accounts and works with Experian, Transunion, and Equifax to report key credit data. The accompanying app has educational, personalised tips and tools to help users better manage their spending, regular payments, and upcoming commitments.


A proven proposition


BuildMyCreditScore has been created on the back of learnings from Currensea – which has already saved people millions of pounds on their travel spending – and we‘re confident it will improve outcomes for the millions of individuals held back by thin files and low credit scores.


It will help them to realise their financial goals, and sits well with the spirit of the Consumer Duty rules which were implemented on 31 July 2023 to drive better outcomes for consumers. Whether it’s someone who has recently moved to the UK, conscientious individuals who have never had a credit card and rely solely on debit cards, or someone who has previously been declined for a credit card, BuildMyCreditScore will offer them a timely lifeline.


In its pilot phase, BuildMyCreditScore helped hundreds of people to quickly boost their credit score. It was tested out by 632 customers between December 2022 and June 2023. From that number, the vast majority (80%) reported an increase in their credit score of between 11 and 55 points within the first three months of trialling the product.


For the past few years, the industry has been discussing how open banking can be better harnessed to support the financially excluded, rather than early adopters. This is just one example.

Article by BuildMyCreditScore

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