FinTech North News and Regional FinTech Developments

Borrowers on the Brink Webinar Write-Up

On the 24th of April, FinTech North, in partnership with lending technology specialists, Lenvi, hosted their ‘Borrowers on the Brink’ webinar. The webinar unpacked the findings of Lenvi’s tenth annual consumer borrowing report, shedding a light on recent attitudes towards borrowing and lending. The webinar saw a focussed group of around 45 attendees with an interest in the high-profile and specialist topic.

Rachel England, Events Coordinator at FinTech North welcomed virtual attendees, before handing over to Joe Roche, FinTech North’s General Manager. Joe introduced FinTech North’s story, strategy and plans for the future, as well as sharing a summary of the breadth of FinTech activity happening in the North of England.

Joe then welcomed Will Ellis, Chief Revenue Officer at Lenvi, to the virtual stage to provide some background to his organisation, the topic, and the findings of the report. With around two-thousand consumers per year contributing to the findings, the report offers rich insights into the borrowing landscape across a range of topics, enabling Lenvi to collate summaries and make valuable predictions to share in the market. Will highlighted that this consumer-centric data drives their innovation, a key component within their strategy.

Throughout his presentation, Will stressed the importance of ensuring financial literacy, and understanding that ‘vulnerability can strike at any moment,’ and can happen to anyone, especially given current life-impacting factors such as the cost of living crisis and inflation.

The findings depicted that throughout the past year, some of the main reasons for borrowing have included: to buy a car, to be able to pay bills, and to buy food, further reflecting the current economic state of the UK.

The report also found that attitudes to borrowing and opinions on what things are essential have shifted. Furthermore, it found that the two main priorities for consumers when selecting a lender were: low interest rates, followed closely by brand reputation. Will expanded on the latter, explaining that ‘brand is what makes one lender stand out from the next’; loyalty, seamless and efficient transactions, transparency and trust are highly valuable to borrowers.

Linking back to the significance of financial literacy, Will stressed the importance of understanding vulnerability and providing clarity to borrowers in creating loyalty and positive customer experiences.

He also discussed the changing role and perception of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in customer journeys, stressing the importance of striking a balance between efficient technology and having a personalised human touch.

He expanded on recent attitudes towards Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), explaining that many users favour the frictionless lending experience, but are unaware that the loan is unregulated, and that an element of friction is necessary in responsible and safe customer journeys.

Next, Joe introduced a panel of credit experts, to discuss their unique insights into the borrowing landscapes.

Sutherland Boyd, COO of Plend, underscored the pivotal role of open banking in reshaping lending dynamics, particularly in extending credit to individuals previously marginalised by traditional financial institutions. Her insights highlighted the transformative potential of leveraging open banking data to assess borrower risk and affordability, thereby fostering financial inclusion.

Sutherland emphasised the importance of transparent communication in the lending process, particularly in guiding borrowers through rejection and signposting alternative options. Her perspective shed light on the evolving attitudes towards vulnerability and the growing imperative for empathetic and inclusive lending practices.

Caroline Fowler, Director of Product and Presales at TransUnion, emphasised the significance of harnessing open banking data to create personalised consumer journeys and address the challenge of credit invisibility. Caroline’s insights underscored the importance of education in empowering consumers to navigate their financial landscape effectively. She highlighted initiatives aimed at enhancing financial literacy and promoting financial resilience, underscoring the need for continuous efforts to expand access to credit information and support services. Caroline’s perspective resonated with the broader theme of leveraging data-driven insights to promote financial inclusion and empower consumers.

Simon Padbury, CRO of Canefin, provided a unique perspective as a startup and a green lender. Simon outlined the potential of innovative lending models to not only address environmental concerns but also promote financial inclusion. His discussion on leveraging AI to assess borrower risk highlighted the importance of striking a balance between technological advancement and personalised customer engagement, linking back to Will’s presentation and the findings of the report.

Simon’s insights underscored the growing recognition of the role of FinTech in driving sustainable and inclusive financial solutions, positioning green lending as a catalyst for positive social and environmental impact.

Sam Goodacre, Director of Product at Lenvi, emphasised the importance of clear communication, consumer education, and responsible lending practices. Sam’s insights highlighted the need for ongoing financial education throughout the loan lifecycle, particularly in emerging areas such as Buy Now Pay Later services.

Sam emphasised the role of appropriate friction in enhancing customer experience and mitigating risks, echoing the broader discussion on the importance of consumer-centric approaches in FinTech innovation. Sam’s perspective underscored the imperative of balancing technological advancements with consumer protection and ethical considerations, with aims to provide sustainable and inclusive financial solutions for all.

The depth of insight shared by the panelists underscored the complexity of the borrowing landscape and the multifaceted challenges and opportunities it presents. It is evident that there is still much to be explored in the lending space amidst rapidly evolving political, economic and regulatory developments, and the enthusiasm and engagement of the audience reaffirmed the importance of continued thought and innovation.

To read Lenvi’s Consumer Borrowing Report in full, click the link here.

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