Fresh from his business being victorious in the ‘Life’s a Pitch’ competition at the 2020 Open Banking Expo Digifest, Freeze Debt Founder and CEO Harjit Moore has good cause for celebration.
Speaking from Freeze Debt’s Leeds HQ, Moore said: “It feels amazing, to be honest. We were up against some really strong competition for the award, against business’ that are doing some really great things in the fintech sector. So for Freeze Debt to triumph and be crowned winners felt like much-appreciated recognition for a lot of hard work we have put in since the beginning.”
‘Life’s a Pitch,’ the competition in which Freeze Debt were victorious, helps budding businesses connect with industry buyers and investors, which opens doors for start-ups and providers of new technology. The competition is produced by Open Banking Expo, a community of +10,000 global Open Finance executives.
Who are Freeze Debt?
“The simplest way of describing it is that we’re the ‘Uber; of the debt industry,” Moore explains. “We’re the first-ever debt advice mobile app.”
The app-based model enables debt sufferers to seek and receive help and debt-solution options from expert advisors – without the anxiety of having to pick up the phone and confess to a stranger that you are in financial trouble.
Consumers simply download the app, navigate their way through the visually pleasing and easy-to-use interface, filling in relevant financial information and answering questions as they go. The app technology then collates the data submitted and uses AI to calculate and suggest the best debt solution for every individual user. All debt solutions are based on what the user can afford, so any repayment plan suggested is completely manageable. Despite being a tech-first business, Freeze Debt doesn’t rely on robo-advice. If the user requires assistance or wishes to discuss a solution in person with someone, they can enter a text-based chat with one Freeze Debts’ dedicated debt advice experts.
Moore has a background working in a call centre environment, and his lightbulb moment came – in a time when the preferred method of communication for many is through WhatsApp, text or any form of instant messaging (and with ‘phone anxiety’) fast becoming a common phrase – that the industry wasn’t evolving to cater to the communication preferences of the consumers.
Freeze Debt launched in May 2019, and to date has helped their users pay off over 27 million pounds worth of debt. Moore explains: “Talking about money and talking about debt is hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do. The last thing anyone wants to do is pick up the phone to another person and tell them that they are bad with money. The easiest and most comfortable way to do it is from behind your screen.”
He added: “There is always a real-life agent there. All it is is instead of picking up the phone, it’s over chat. The in-app chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Chat – any platform that you want we are connected to.”
Freeze Debt has 20 staff, both in UK and in India. The firm is expecting rapid growth in the near future.
“Within the next three months in the Leeds office there will probably be 30 to 40 staff, and a year from now we should probably be close to around 100,” says Mr Moore.
You could say the timing to launch a debt solution app could not be better, as we all navigate a precarious economic situation due to the result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Moore said: “Covid-19 has driven our business forward by 18 months to two years. There is going to be a massive demand for this product. People are struggling. People are going to struggle even more. We want to help as much as we possibly can.
“I’ve been bankrupt myself. I’ve been through that. That’s one of the factors for building the app. Sometimes you just want to hide your head under the covers and speak to someone via a messaging platform. That’s where it came from. I’ve experienced – the stress and anxiety that it causes.
“We plan to be the biggest debt and advice solutions provider in the UK, using technology to understand what society wants, and providing people going through financial difficulty with the debt advice and help they need.”