Netherlands | Financial self-reliance

Faster debt assistance with digital platform MijnIntake

1 March 2022 14:45

Administrative hurdles: many people who need debt assistance are all too familiar with them. Social fintech Budlr. aims to eliminate those hurdles for debt assistance clients and their aid workers. Their online platform MijnIntake offers quick insight into the person’s financial situation, and helps municipalities smooth the path to debt assistance.

Man updates financial administration on laptop

“The sooner you find people with debt problems, the faster you can solve or even prevent them”

So people with debt problems can get more efficient assistance, and once again become full participants in society.
Municipalities and front-line debt assistance workers strive to find and help people with debt problems at the first signs that the problems might get out of hand. Because the sooner you find people with debt problems, the faster you can solve them, or even prevent them. That’s the idea, at least. But in practice, those in need too often get bogged down in administrative paperwork. They might show up on aid workers’ radars, but then they disappear again when the help doesn’t appear in time.

Collecting all the data

MijnIntake makes it easier for both financial aid providers and those in need. How? Budlr. owner Christiaan van der Ven explains: ‘A person in need collects all of the information needed for debt assistance together with the aid worker. In a secure digital environment, they can use their DigiD to quickly collect data through links to MijnOverheid and Mijn Belastingdienst. They can also collect bank records. MijnIntake then generates a complete overview of income and expenses, property and the individual’s own personal situation. If the aid worker needs documents, the person in need can simply scan and upload them to quickly give the aid worker insight into how the person’s doing.’

Quick start of the aid process

‘Just the speed with which the information is collected is a huge benefit’, explains Peter de Winter from Stichting Kredietbank Nederland, an organization that provides debt assistance. ‘Our debt aid workers often have to wait a long time for the information they need. And then it can still be incomplete or outdated. With MijnIntake, it sometimes takes only 15 minutes to collect information that used to take up to 8 weeks. So we can start providing assistance much quicker.’

Quality and convenience

‘MijnIntake also makes the aid process less of a burden for our clients. Their financial worries often keep them from collecting everything we need, but now we can do it in no time’, says Peter. ‘The platform also helps our members’, says Arie Verkerk from Horus, the branch association for legal representatives. ‘This innovation allows them to guide the intake process in a structured, step-by-step manner. That improves both the quality and the credibility of their work. And with a smart link to other software, the information from MijnIntake can be transferred quickly. That saves us a lot of time.’

Smooth transition from first- to second-line support

The time savings are especially useful when a resident has problematic debts. Because extra hurdles increase the risk of the person giving up. The City of Leeuwarden therefore uses MijnIntake for the smooth transition of residents from first- to second-line support. Peter de Winter: ‘The neighborhood social worker teams at Amaryllis use MijnIntake for the initial analysis of the person’s situation. If it’s not problematic, then they draw up their own advisory report. But if it is, then with the client’s permission they can transfer the case to Kredietbank Nederland, so the resident doesn’t have to start the process all over again.’

Helping many more people

‘What’s happening in Leeuwarden is unique in the Netherlands’, explains Christiaan from Budlr. ‘It saves aid workers a lot of time, that they can then invest in providing personal support. Utrecht and Rotterdam also use MijnIntake, and we’ve started negotiations with several other municipalities. We hope to reach even more municipalities over the next five years, because they all face the same challenge of growing numbers of people in need.’

Over the next five years, Budlr. aims to modernize the initial processes of debt assistance and to strengthen the partnership between the debt assistance parties. Christiaan: ‘And we’ll keep developing MijnIntake with the input of aid workers and people in need. Financial support from parties like Rabo Foundation has helped us do that faster and better over the past several months. And with their help, we’ll have an even greater impact, because many more people can get the assistance they need faster, without scaling up the debt assistance organizations.’

How does a social fintech develop a solution that adds real value?

We asked Christiaan van der Ven about his experiences and lessons learned from the growth of Budlr. These were his main recommendations:

  1. Make sure you have a clearly defined mission and know which social problem you want to address. That gives you the energy and focus to work on a product for years to improve it, even without an immediate result.
  2. Keep your mission, challenge and solution concrete and take a critical look at what makes you stand out. Always keep this question in the back of your mind: What problem do I want to solve, and what makes my solution unique?
  3. From the very first moment and throughout the product development process, try to think about the (social) earning model. Social impact is important, but so is a sustainable earning model. Impact doesn’t automatically translate into concrete customers and revenue. Who will be using your product? What value does it add? And what do you want your target group to pay for your product?

Why does Rabo Foundation collaborate with Budlr.?

One out of five Dutch households suffers from problematic debts, and that number is expected to grow over the next few years due to the pandemic. The new municipal debt assistance law requires municipalities to follow up on information they receive about people with problematic debt. That places more pressure on aid workers. We believe that innovative digital solutions will enable aid workers to provide better assistance faster and more conveniently. And that’s something that benefits all aid workers. That’s why we finance MijnIntake by Budlr., and why we work to raise awareness about the platform.