The Affordability Passport and Babies are Powerful Disrupters

Life will never be the same after a baby. I knew that. I expected that. And when Brodie arrived on the scene 10 weeks ago, I was prepared for things not being the same. Read more

CaaS Tool is Developed for Asset Managers

By Ross Laurie, Advisor to Castlight Financial.

For the last couple of years, we’ve talked about how our CaaS (Categorisation as a Service) engine is revolutionising the way lending institutions are helping their customers take control of their finances and demonstrate their affordability credentials for a loan. Read more

Student Budgeting Apps Are Good But Don’t Come Close To The Affordability Passport

A whole new generation of students are about to leave home and embark on the adventure that is student life. For some, it will be the first time that they have had to manage their own budgets. And for many, they are watching, with a degree of alarm, the doors of the Bank of Mum and Dad (BOMAD) sliding shut.

But as BOMAD shuts up shop, the High Street banks are bombarding students with rail cards, Amazon Prime membership and restaurant vouchers.

But for this generation of students, there’s also the whole new world of challenger, digital banks, with a complex array of enticements aimed at students.

Digital Banks Are Changing The Game

Jessica Murray, writing on the Save the Student website, reviews the functionality and deals of the leading challenger banks such a Monzo, Starling and Atom as well as the range of budgeting apps and savings bots for managing and monitoring expenditure. There’s kWh for keeping the lid on energy consumption, mySupermarket and CheckoutSmart for driving food shopping costs down and Onanvo Extend for reducing data costs. There’s even the musicMagpie app for generating cash by recycling and selling on games and old CDs and DVDs.

And for any student who has a niggle that they’re spending too much on coffee, diet Coke or beer, they can scare themselves silly with Martin Lewis’s Demotivator. Punch in your non-essential item of expenditure, the unit costs and how often you buy it and Martin’s demotivator calculates how much that adds up to each year and across a working life.

If it’s a caffeine habit you have for example, then the demotivator is quick to flag up that just one medium sized Americano from Costa on the way to lectures and a couple over the weekend will cost a student £803 a year and £36,135.00 over their lifetime.

Students are smart and, with budgets under pressure, they are highly motivated to use all the resources out there to keep their finances on track. And many students will have their smartphones loaded up with a range of apps to help them manage their budget.

Its good news that students are using the array of financial management apps at their disposal and bodes well for future financial responsibility.

Are Students Missing A Trick?

But I wonder if they know, as they download scores of cool apps onto their phones, that the millennials and their parents’ generation too, may be one step ahead of them?

You could say that Castlight Financial’s Affordability Passport is, in essence, a whole lot of these cool apps all rolled into one. The Affordability Passport uses the same open banking technology as the digital banks and some of the budgeting apps, but instead of totaling up the numbers in a defined area of spending such as utilities bills, the Affordability Passport is able to categorise transactional spending across multiple personal accounts, categorising spending into 155 categories and a further 29 categories for income.

The Affordability Passport is powered by Castlight’s CaaS (Categorisation as a Service) software which is currently the most powerful categorisation engine in the UK. And now that it’s being widely used by the UK’s High Street banks, there are hundreds of thousands of UK customers who should feel pretty smug that, whatever numbers their student children may be crunching with their budgeting apps, its not nearly as cool as 155 categories of spending analysis.

Progress Through Technology – Castlight Financial and HSBC UK Join Forces

Progress through technology. Castlight Financial support HSBC UK to deliver their first open banking loan

Ask any car enthusiast why their dream car might be an Audi and they’re very likely to say the brand has a reputation for innovative design and cutting edge technology. Dig a bit deeper and they’re also likely to rate Audi’s reputation for reliability and customer service.

So, I have to admit to being pretty delighted that the very first HSBC UK customer using Castlight’s affordability technology secured a loan to buy their dream Audi.

This is clearly a customer who knows a thing or two about design, technology, reliability and customer service!

Open Banking in Action

So what has actually happened here? As you’ll know, PSD2 or open banking came into force in January this year. Many UK banks weren’t ready for the revolution that is open banking. But some were and the Castlight team have been working closely with HSBC UK to get ahead of the game. So this week we were ready – our affordability technology CaaS or “categorisation as a service” was tried, tested and ready to go. So when the HSBC UK customer took up the offer to be the first customer to apply for a loan using open banking technology, it was all systems go.

The customer securely linked their bank account to HSBC UK, who used their open banking technology to pull down all the transactional data. HSBC UK then ran the transactional data through the CaaS engine, which categorised income and expenditure into 155 categories, summarising income streams, credit commitments, essential costs and discretionary spending to reveal a monthly disposable income. The information was then merged with credit performance data and in under 10 minutes HSBC UK had all the information they needed on which to make a highly informed lending decision. The process also eliminated the need for the customer to produce bank statements and payslips to comply with money laundering regulations as all the information was there in the CaaS report.

CaaS was able to provide their underwriters with enhanced data direct from the customer’s bank account, whilst giving that customer a better, faster service. And its good news for Castlight, as more and more lenders both in the UK and globally start to recognise the importance of enhanced affordability technology like CaaS, and use it to ensure that loans are safe and affordable for both lenders and borrowers.

Progress through technology. It’s an approach that works for Audi and it’s certainly working too for Castlight.

Embracing the Spirit of the Law

Martin Hagerty, Castlight Financial’s Chairman, once defined company culture to me as “the things people do when they know they’re not being watched”.

I like that definition. Because it doesn’t just apply to companies. It applies to whole industries too. Read more

First Open Banking pilot goes live for Castlight Financial’s Affordability Passport

Castlight Financial, the Glasgow-based financial capability company, is partnering with Paradigm Mortgage Services and Foundation Home Loans to launch a major pilot of its Affordability Passport, an affordability tool powered by open banking technology, which allows brokers to process mortgages in under 10 minutes. Read more

10 Minute Turnaround For Tuna… And Mortgages

Jamie Oliver’s bestselling 30 Minute Meals book was published in 2010. Two years later his 15 Minute Meals book knocked JK Rowling’s new novel off the bestseller top spot. And last year his 5 Ingredients, quick and easy food was a favourite stocking filler. This latest speeded-up offering reduced the number of items to shop for to 5 and gave us the recipe for delivering Seared Sesame Tuna to the plate in just 10 minutes. Read more

KYC – As Easy As ABC

A number 3 as usual, sir? Your usual table Mrs Jones? Whether its a quick trip to the barber or a regular visit to the local Indian restaurant, we appreciate it when people who are providing us with a service know us and what we like. We feel we are in the hands of professionals and that they care. Read more

Traditional Banks Have a Head Start in the Open Banking Space

The banks are in the media spotlight just now as open banking starts to roll out and the debate gathers steam. Are the banks ready? How are they faring in the brand new open banking space where everyone is jostling for room? Read more

Are Tech Giants like Amazon a Real Threat to Traditional Banking?

At a Future of Fintech conference in New York this summer, Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB Insights said that the idea of a “Bank of Amazon” was top of the list of 10 trends to watch in financial services over the next year. Read more