Service built in weekend to support 5m self-employed over COVID-19 income loss
This weekend a team of self-isolating entrepreneurs from London’s burgeoning fintech sector – built a proof of concept which aims to support the UK’s 5m self-employed in the COVID-19 economic crisis.
The idea allows a self-employed person to self-certify and evidence their loss of income due to coronavirus through a web site. The service then uses open banking to collect historic banking data, proving previous income and predicting future loss of income.
The group believes this could ease the significant administrative burden on the civil service and the already stretched banking sector in the United Kingdom, and ensure Britain’s vital small business sector makes it through this crisis. With this tool banks could release loans faster to businesses meaning entrepreneurs could bounce back faster from disruption.
The self-employed are required to self-certify at https://covidcredit.uk/ using a simple web form. With consent, Covid Credit will then securely access twelve months of data from the individual’s bank account, using open banking, demonstrating historic incomes and potential loss of earnings. The result is a minted declaration document that serves as self-certification by the sole trader.
The group recognises that the UK government has taken significant steps to ensure the long term viability of the economy through the coronavirus crisis, but the 4.9 million self-employed and small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy which generates £275bn to the UK economy. Ensuring these businesses, not only survive, but thrive, is critical to the ongoing economic success of Great Britain. As such, the group is hoping to share the work with the widest possible audience and to trial with a small group of self-employed in the coming days.
Freddy Kelly, founder and CEO of Credit Kudos comments:
“The Covid Credit team came together as a group to design a concept that verifies the income trend of self-employed workers. The process features self-certification combined with impartially retrieved banking data to deliver a comprehensive view of someone’s income. In this way, we hope, the government may be able to assess the self-employed in the same way that they can the full-time employed. Additionally, the project has been created in open source so that it is simple to use and can be rapidly adopted by HM government.”
Jamie Campbell from Fronted comments: “During unprecedented times such as these, we all need to pull together to solve major challenges. We have demonstrated the power of the UK’s fintech community in developing an innovative and secure platform in rapid timeframes which has the potential to meet the needs of millions across our nation. We are hopeful that the government will share our optimism in using Covid Credit to design a solution for the self-employed.”
From a technical perspective, the teams have developed a standalone Python web application which is running on Google Cloud. This application interacts directly with the Credit Kudos API which, in turn, is aggregating data from individuals’ bank accounts and applying a number of pattern recognition algorithms in order to deduce the key income figures for the statement. In this proof of concept only sole traders are supported but the Covid Credit team believe that this group can be extended once government support is offered.
Simon Taylor, co-founder of 11:FS comments: “The government is working incredibly hard to support UK business at such an unprecedented time. We believe Covid Credit can provide a crucial piece of this complex puzzle, in identifying and validating the needs of self-employed people and businesses affected by COVID-19.
“The opportunity to assist our government in supporting 5m businesses is enormous, and we believe by sharing our leading-edge collective expertise and knowledge in developing products and services underpinned by open banking, we can play a part in delivering a life-changing service for these businesses banks and the civil service.”
The team are currently engaging with a number of key stakeholders across HMT, HMRC and the FCA in a bid to move into a beta testing phase then to a wider roll-out. The fintech consortium, which includes Credit Kudos, Fronted, 11:FS, Coconut, Capital on Tap, Mazuma, SeedLegals and TrueLayer have pledged to ensure that Covid Credit transitions as smoothly and as rapidly as needed from beta to roll-out.
To date, all team members contributing to the development of Covid Credit have been self-isolated.