The Credit Thing: reimagining credit payments with VRPs

The Credit Thing helps people that are new to the UK or to borrowing get access to credit.

It works like a credit card on your mobile. Customers apply through the app and are given a virtual card they can use to buy things online, either with approved credit or by using their own funds. The app also helps people track and manage their spending.

The Credit Thing started working with TrueLayer in 2020 to make it easier for customers to make one-off repayments straight from their bank account.

In 2022, they became the first fintech in the world to enable variable recurring payments (VRPs) for customers, powered by open banking.

VRP authorisation rates are great and the list of participating banks is growing all the time. As a business you control so much of the process, so you’re able to deliver a great customer experience.

Colin Hollingsbee

Colin Hollingsbee

Chief Information Officer

The challenge

Traditional payment methods were creating issues for The Credit Thing and its customers, explains Colin Hollingsbee, Chief Information Officer at The Credit Thing.

“Debit card payments typically involve lots of parties – the issuer, the acquirer, 3DS processes and so on. The process is more complex and that increases the likelihood that a transaction can fail.”

The team considered enabling direct debits as an option for regular repayments, but decided against it. “Direct debits are a bit outdated and neither the customer nor us have much control,” explains Colin. “For example, if a customer makes an interim payment five days before their bill is due, the direct debit payment still takes place. Some banks also charge for failed direct debits, which is obviously a poor experience for customers.”

The solution

The Credit Thing integrated TrueLayer Payments in 2020 so customers could make one-off bill payments securely in their app, straight from their bank account and without needing a debit card.

In May 2022, the team switched on variable recurring payments through TrueLayer, enabling customers to make regular payments too – and becoming the first fintech in the world to make live open banking VRP transactions.

“We had a great experience integrating standalone payments with TrueLayer so the relationship was already there,” says Colin. “It was a natural step for us to expand the partnership to solve our customers’ pains around regular payments.”

Working together, it feels like we’re one company – which has always been my nirvana view of supplier partnerships.

Colin Hollingsbee

Colin Hollingsbee

Chief Information Officer

The Credit Thing and TrueLayer technical teams worked together to integrate variable recurring payments in the app in two weeks. 

“VRP is new to the industry and to TrueLayer, so we expected there to be issues – things not being documented for example. But we got none of that,” recalls Colin.

“TrueLayer’s integration guides are well documented, and there was no waiting for emails – instead we set up shared comms channels where technical teams could interact with each other without the need for middlemen like me.”

The results

TrueLayer provides The Credit Thing customers with an easy repayment option.

"It gives our customers complete control of their regular payments,” says Colin. “And it’s easier for us to manage too – if a customer makes an interim payment for example, we can change the amount they pay right up to the point when the VRP is taken.”

TrueLayer Payments also fail less often than debit card payments, reports Colin. “Because the complexity of the processing is less, authorisation rates are higher and customers don’t get fees from issuing banks if a payment does fail. All of that means a better experience for our customers.”

In August 2022, the Credit Thing celebrated its first 100 customers using variable recurring payments with TrueLayer. 

“It’s still early days for VRPs and we’re waiting for more banks to come online, but we’re pleased to see higher than expected authorisation rates and customer adoption increasing every month.” 

Colin and team are already thinking about how else they could use the solution. “We’ve learned a lot and that has allowed us to start thinking about how we could use TrueLayer and variable recurring payments elsewhere in the customer lifecycle, to create even better experiences for our customers.”