Taking on Unfair Lending with Good Shepherd Microfinance and NAB

  • 2018

  • Social Impact

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Good Shepherd Microfinance and NAB invited Today to help develop a first-of-its-kind: an ethical short term loan for those experiencing financial stress that looks to improve their financial wellbeing, rather than preying on their disadvantage.

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  • Every year, millions of Australians turn to short term loans to help make ends meet. Unfortunately, when they most need a helping hand, they end up getting gouged with unreasonable interest rates and hidden fees. This leads to spiraling financial instability, leaving people stuck in a cycle of worsening debt. We spent time with a diverse range of people in their homes and workplaces as they experienced the daily circumstances that lead to short term loans. We learned people often don’t self-identify as being “financially excluded”. This stigma can push them to secretive behaviour that makes financial matters worse.

  • We used design artefacts to empathise with the problems vulnerable people face. Product recommendations were developed to help progress at pace, and a service blueprint was developed to guide delivery of a world-class experience. From here, we envisioned the new product: Speckle, a small loan with nothing to hide. Speckle needed to be just as quick and easy as its competitors, but leave people feeling comfortable with the choice they’d made. Prioritising human outcomes over loan conversion mean Speckle isn’t just transparent and accessible, but offers support that better suits people’s needs, and initiates a conversation about healthier financial behaviour.

  • Speckle launched publicly in February 2018, and has already redirected a significant number of Australians away from predatory loans. In the long term, success is providing a fair short term loan, but also helping people become financially stable, so they can avoid these loans altogether.

  • There were a number of other features developed to help ensure Speckle helps get customers to better financial outcomes, including: - Fairer (which means lower) interest rates and fees - Complete transparency of fees and costs - An easy to use repayment calculator which shows the real cost of any loan - Highly accessible design and language to ensure no one gets lost in the fine print - Easy to find guidance for seeking financial counselling and warnings about borrowing These are just some of the features in the digital experience of the brand that set it apart from other short term lending products, making it unique in this market.