Zilch, the UK-headquartered payments technology company, announces it has signed an industry-first partnership to work with StepChange, the UK’s leading debt advice charity, which will help Zilch’s millions of customers access help, should they need it, more quickly during the current cost of living crisis.
This support for StepChange will see Zilch become the first provider of credit via buy now pay later to fully integrate StepChange Direct into its platform. The payments technology company will also go one step further and provide innovation that will better advance the user experience.
To help customers at what is usually a vulnerable time, Zilch and StepChange have worked together to identify a number of steps that are currently required when they are in financial stress and are referred for support that can be removed. StepChange’s immensely talented team will also work with the Zilch vulnerability team on how to recognise and make referrals to debt advice more effectively.
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Zilch will be making financial contributions to StepChange through the Fair Share funding mechanism, supporting the charity in its operations and ensuring that UK consumers continue to benefit from easy access to an independent charity committed to helping people in financial difficulty become debt-free.
Working with StepChange comes off the back of Zilch more recently becoming the first provider of its kind to report customer behaviour to all major UK Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs).
To date Zilch has provided its customers with over £95 million in aggregate savings as it charges zero interest for instalment loans and offers cashback and deals of up to 10% back when paying by debit. Zilch was one of the first companies in the space to be regulated by the FCA and sets dynamic, personalised affordability limits on customers’ total borrowing to make every transaction affordable. Through this support for StepChange, Zilch customers can be immediately and seamlessly referred for free high-quality independent advice, provided through StepChange’s omni-channel debt advice service, whenever needed (at which point further Zilch credit is also temporarily suspended).
Today’s announcement is Zilch’s latest industry-leading innovation to promote financial inclusion and help protect consumers from problem debt. Last month Zilch announced that it had reached a ground-breaking deal with the most reputable UK CRAs that will see its customers’ borrowing and repayment activity using Zilch credit begin influencing their credit scores and profiles for the first time. This innovation provides millions of British consumers the opportunity to build and improve their credit scores without making use of high-cost, revolving credit products. It will also boost consumer protections and financial health throughout the wider UK consumer credit ecosystem by giving other lenders visibility of Zilch users’ current and historic borrowing activity.
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Philip Belamant, CEO and co-founder of Zilch, said: “The entire ethos of Zilch is about being customer-first and we’ve built the business around doing the right thing by our customers – even if it’s difficult – every time. It’s why we’ve invested so much time and resource into building a meaningfully proactive relationship with StepChange. To Zilch, this partnership is a natural and obvious one – why would any responsible lender of credit not want to align with an establishment such as StepChange that is doing so much to support people in these hard times?
“This partnership ensures we provide our customers with the very best support if they do fall behind on repayments – all for free.”
Phil Andrew, CEO of StepChange, said: “StepChange has been helping people for 30 years – and during that time has supported millions of people seeking help with problem debt.
“Over the last three decades a lot has changed – with new challenges like the cost-of-living crisis and new financial products.
“But one thing has not changed and that is our commitment to support people struggling with problem debt and to work with a wide network of partners and supporters to ensure that those who need help can access it.
“Zilch’s commitment to our work through the payment of Fair Share contributions, as well as finding innovative ways to minimise the barriers to people seeking help, will support us at StepChange to continue our important mission.”
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