UK-based payments technology company Zilch has partnered with debt advice charity StepChange to help its customers access financial help and debt support more quickly, should they need it.
Zilch called the partnership an “industry first”, given it is the first provider of credit via buy now, pay later to fully integrate StepChange Direct into its platform.
By working together, Zilch and StepChange have identified the numerous steps that are currently required when a customer is in financial stress and needs to be referred for support, and removed them.
This means that Zilch customers can be “immediately and seamlessly” referred for free independent advice, which is provided through StepChange’s omni-channel debt advice service.
When this happens, access to further Zilch credit is also temporarily suspended.
In addition, as part of the partnership, the team at StepChange will work with Zilch’s vulnerability team on how to recognise and make referrals to debt advice more effectively.
Zilch recently became the first provider to report customers’ borrowing and repayment activity, using Zilch credit, to all major UK Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) to help build their credit scores and profiles.
The deal means that other lenders will have visibility of Zilch users’ current and historic borrowing activity.
Philip Belamant, chief executive officer 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.”
He questioned, “why would any responsible lender of credit not want to align with an establishment such as StepChange” amid the cost-of-living crisis.
“This partnership ensures we provide our customers with the very best support if they do fall behind on repayments – all for free,” Belamant added.
Zilch has committed to making financial contributions to StepChange through the Fair Share funding mechanism.
“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,” said Phil Andrew, StepChange’s chief executive officer.
Zilch’s chief marketing officer Kirsty Spickett will be speaking at Open Banking Expo’s Women in Open Banking meet-up on 1 March – click here for further details and to register for the event.