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Funding secured to build ‘affordable credit’ app

Marlene Shiels

Marlene Shiels: ‘game changer’ (pic: Terry Murden)

A fintech company, credit union and software developer are working on a digital lending initiative to help the financially disadvantaged after securing £200,000 from the UK Government.

Glasgow tech firm Soar together with East of Scotland based Capital Credit Union and Nivo – a Barclays spin-out software company – received the funds through the Affordable Credit Challenge.

The scheme, run by Nesta Challenges in partnership with the Treasury, is designed to support the development of innovative solutions to make credit more accessible and affordable in the UK, particularly for those who are financially vulnerable.

Soar was one of three recipients of the funding and will use it to develop a mobile app as part of Capital Credit Union’s digital transformation strategy.

Soar’s founder and CEO, Andrew Duncan, said: “Our aim is also to ensure the technology developed for Capital can be rolled out across the UK to positively affect the lives of millions of people.”

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The UK’s world-leading fintech sector has a huge role to play in helping the most vulnerable access alternatives to high cost credit.

“That’s why we set up the Affordable Credit Challenge, bringing together fintechs and community lenders to develop new, pioneering solutions to this challenge.”

Capital’s chief executive Marlene Shiels, said: “This is a game changer for us. Our partnership with Soar and Nivo has enabled our vision to become a reality.

“Very importantly it also gives us the opportunity to educate members and potential members on how to build financial resilience through savings and access to affordable credit.”

Our partnership with Soar and Nivo has enabled our vision to become a reality

– Marlene Shiels, Capital Credit Union

Research conducted to mark the launch of the Challenge revealed 82% people think more needs to be done to ensure there are alternatives to high-cost lenders and 75% believe not-for-profit, community lenders need more support to succeed.

Joanna Elson, CEO of Money Advice Trust and chairman of the Affordable Credit Challenge judging panel, said: “There is a huge need for affordable credit, and we know that technology can help credit unions and others to both reach people who need it and provide the kind of service that mainstream financial institutions offer.”

Work on developing new digital platforms for Capital is well under way and the mobile app should be available for its members by May.

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