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Experian Ups financial wellness with free app

The credit education web-based app delivers financial education and budgeting in a simple and fun way.

Experian, one of the largest credit bureaus in South Africa, has launched Up, a free credit, budgeting and learning experience web-based app, that aims to help South Africans take control of their financial health.

The Experian Consumer Default Index (CDI), which tracks the rate of increase in consumer first payment default, has steadily increased over the past five quarters across all consumer segments.

“It is clear that the strain of the current economic climate continues to weigh heavily on consumers, with many turning to credit to make up for the shortfalls in their cost-of-living expenditures,” says Jaco van Jaarsveldt, head of commercial strategy and innovation at Experian South Africa. “Helping consumers to manage their budgets and create strong financial practices has become more important than ever.”

Financial wellness is vital to an individual’s overall well-being. Studies have shown that financial stress can have adverse effects on people, leading to mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Just as physical fitness is achieved through knowing what objectives to meet, financial wellness can be achieved by understanding one’s financial objectives and how to achieve them.

Helping consumers and SMEs achieve financial fitness.

“There are two critical aspects that credit providers consider when assessing an application for credit, namely your credit score and your affordability,” says Van Jaarsveldt. “An applicant’s credit score is an indication of their current credit standing and is based on the payment performance of existing credit facilities a consumer has. Affordability on the other hand assesses the applicant’s ability to make payments on a new credit facility by determining how much funds a consumer has available after covering all existing expenses.”

By accessing their Experian credit report and credit score free of charge via the web app, consumers can ensure that all their information is accurate and up-to-date enabling them to stay on top of their credit profile on a regular basis. Similarly, by regularly updating their budget via the web app, consumers will have a detailed view of their finances providing a consolidated, one-stop view of their ability to afford additional credit facilities.

Up by Experian empowers consumers with the financial knowledge necessary to engage with financial institutions, knowing the likely answer to the credit application question before formally asking the question.

Driving financial inclusion

Financial inclusion is an essential component for overall economic growth for both consumers and small businesses. Up facilitates access to banking services and financial products to underserved populations by enabling consumers and SMEs to manage their financial wellness through gamified credit and financial education, budgeting, and the ability to track and manage their credit scores on a regular basis.

Van Jaarsveldt says: “There is, however, a large percentage of consumers who still face barriers to accessing credit or pay more for credit for several reasons. Some have trouble documenting their income. Others have either no credit history or a credit history that is too scarce, or “thin” to generate a credit score. This issue more often affects low-income consumers, and this is where alternative credit data can play a positive role.

“We believe that introducing new and more appropriate data sources is required to make the financial services market more inclusive. There are many forms of alternative data that could help build a financial footprint and positively impact the lives of many currently excluded from the market.”

With the required permission, consumers using the Up app, will be able to build an alternative credit score using hundreds of alternative data points which could be used to determine creditworthiness in a new and innovative way. 

“Only data that an individual has consented to share will be used to assess an individual’s stability and alternative credit score.”

Most importantly this new alternative data will ultimately drive greater access to credit for consumers who were previously overlooked as well as provide profitable growth for lenders who will begin to see these individuals in a new way through more time relevant data points that could provide early indicators of changes in a consumer’s financial status.

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