Financial services play a key role in our lives, but there are numerous barriers to access them. Every year in the UK, people find themselves financially excluded, meaning they can’t access anything more than basic bank accounts at best. The consequences of financial exclusion are widespread and can severely affect people’s health, housing, education, and career.
According to the report by the Financial Inclusion Commission, over 13 million people in the UK lack financial security. Around 5.8 million people in the UK are virtually invisible to the financial system and vulnerable to a spiral of dangerous debt.
As the Financial exclusion number in the UK is growing, a few startups have emerged to address this problem. London-based startup Plend is on a mission to better understand people who, up until now, have been ignored or exploited by mainstream lenders.
The UK company has secured £700K funding led by early-stage VC’s Tomahawk, and Ascension. Other investors including Haatch, and NBS Ventures, participated.
The investment will be used to cement its position as a market leader in the £24 billion consumer lending market and bring affordable loans to 13 million people in the UK who are virtually invisible to traditional financial credit scoring systems.
UK’s first social lending marketplace
Founded by Rob Pasco and Jamie Pursail in 2020, Plend is the UK’s first social lending marketplace designed to provide sustainable, affordable long-term loans rather than create a spiral of short-term debt that can occur with BNPL.
Rob Pasco, CEO, and co-founder of Plend said: “We’re on a mission to personalise credit scoring and create a fairer way to assess creditworthiness. By making smarter lending decisions based on a person’s actual behavior and current financial position, we will be giving financial independence to millions of people currently excluded from life-changing loans. I’m one of the ‘13 million’ and I have a deeply personal experience with the blunt instrument that is our current outdated and odious credit scoring system.”
The company uses Open Banking technology to securely access a person’s bank account to gain a unique understanding of their finances and make more insightful, informed, and personal lending decisions. Plend is the only platform in the UK that allows everyday investors to back people directly, making faceless portfolios a thing of the past.
James Pursaill, CTO and co-founder of Plend, added: “Financial wellbeing is crucial to living a happy and healthy life. Whether you’re young or retired, returning expat or immigrant, unbanked, or just trying to make ends meet, we’re determined to better understand your financial situation and offer a more affordable loan so you can get on and do more with your life.”
Connor Benoit Milner, Investor at Tomahawk, commented: “Plend shares our vision that financial services should be available to anyone, anywhere and at any time.”
Emma Steele, Investment Director at Ascension, said: “Plend’s business model is based on building a more humane and ethical credit environment, which aligns with Fair By Design fund’s thesis.”
Jeremy Luzinda, Investor at Haatch, added: “The team has spotted a gap in the market through its use of Open Banking to create a proprietary credit scoring mechanism to make loans more accessible to all. Plend is a social lending marketplace that brings value to both lenders and borrowers and offers far better rates than others around.”