Experian’s Affordability Passport helping vulnerable people through Covid-19 pandemic

Experian’s Affordability Passport is helping a host of organisations better understand vulnerable people’s financial situations, so they can best support them through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Local authorities and charities including Mental Health & Money Advice and Citizens Advice are using the Open Banking powered digital tool from Experian, which allows people to share their account and transaction data, providing a clear and detailed picture of an individual’s financial circumstances and commitments in rapid time.

This includes the option for a consumer to share their credit report – with their consent – to provide a complete picture of their financial health.

Experian has made the tool available free of charge for three months as part of its response to the pandemic. In total, 21 organisations are using the service to help identify clients who may have experienced a change in their financial circumstances and offer them the support they need.

Lisa Fretwell, Managing Director of Data Services, at Experian, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has put added strain on households across the country, with many concerned about their financial circumstances and how they could change in the months ahead.

“Experian is playing its part by using its data insights to support consumers and help the economy recover. By using consumer contributed data we are able to provide a rich and deep level of insight into someone’s situation, in turn enabling organisations to provide better and more informed advice.

“The option to include credit information provides additional insight on an individual’s credit commitments at a time when a lot of people’s finances are stretched. We’re pleased that organisations have been able to use the tool to help them understand clients who are most in need of help.”

Citizens Advice Liverpool has been supporting people through the Covid-19 pandemic, offering advice and guidance to those who have been furloughed and those who have begun claiming benefits.

It will be using the Affordability Passport to accurately assess the financial circumstances of those who are seeking money and debt advice due to the impact of the pandemic, helping them offer specific and tailored advice.

Jill Appleton, Project Lead at Citizens Advice Liverpool, said: “Households across Liverpool and the country are worried about their livelihoods and the economic impact of the pandemic.

“The passport will help us quickly understand and evaluate a person’s incomings and outgoings so we can help them manage their money and support them through their change in circumstances and this unprecedented time.”

The Mental Health & Money Advice service provides support for those who have found their mental wellbeing impacted by money concerns. When supporting a client, it carries out extensive checks to accurately assess their financial circumstance and help offer the most appropriate support. The organisation is now using the Affordability Passport as part of its response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Sarah-Jayne Dunn, Service Manager at Mental Health & Money Advice, said: “We have wanted to continue to assist our clients to the highest possible standards through this crisis. By doing this digitally and in real-time we can carry out crucial financial checks and highlight possible solutions. Without this, delays would be inevitable, as we would be relying on the postal network.

“As demand for our services has inevitably increased in light of the pandemic, we are extremely grateful to have access to this Experian technology to support our clients during these difficult times.

“It means we are freeing up valuable time to focus on delivering the right kind of support to the people who need our help, providing them with the service and advice they need to get them through the challenges they now face.”

Experian has been at the forefront and a leading innovator in the development of Open Banking technology. Its Open Data platform underpins more than 52 million API requests a month.

The platform is being used, for example, by a major high street bank to power its app and allow customers to see all their accounts in one place. The technology has allowed credit card and auto finance providers, rental property agencies, mortgage lenders and gaming companies to better assess whether services are affordable for their customers.

By being able to gather account information in minutes, charities can accurately assess a client’s situation quickly and significantly speed up the initial stages of debt advice.