We’re taught that bad behavior has negative consequences from a young age. But, on the flip side, good behavior is rarely rewarded unless it’s exceptional. It’s the same when it comes to financial discipline and credit culture; we make timely payments to avoid repercussions. This is what Shayanathan Kanaganayagham, CEO of Moneta, is trying to change. Sharing his vision, Shayanthan said, “We at Moneta want to build a positive credit discipline by recognizing and encouraging good behavior and attitudes.”
Moneta is a lifestyle-based financial service enabler founded on solving Sri Lankans’ everyday challenges. The company seeks to empower its users by assisting them financially to help them to experience life beyond their limits. As part of its mission, the company is working towards building a positive credit discipline in Sri Lanka. Already, it’s launched a rewards program for its users, but this is only the first step of a grander vision.
How Moneta recognizes and supports its users
Upon setting up the mobile app, users are offered a virtual credit limit, based on their initial attributes that users can use immediately by providing their identity details. Entering your address and employment details enables access to more considerable virtual credit sums and benefits. These are determined by Moneta’s data-centric machine learning models, which assign users a dynamic credit score according to their ‘social trustworthiness’. This score is determined by analyzing the user’s lifestyle, credit payments, network, usage, mobile metadata, and other factors to increase accuracy.
Being a helpful friend during hard times
Their system harnesses data to understand the credit behavior of their customers. Based on how timely users pay back their credit, the system recognizes them with the rewards benefits. “In the traditional systems, the more you spend, the more you get rewarded. So, the richest consumers are the ones who always enjoy the rewards and benefits while the middle-class and working-class Sri Lankans who spend less, never enjoy the benefits of being good. So Moneta brings benefits to consumers by encouraging credit discipline in Sri Lanka, by making rewards for good behaviors. The more you pay your credits on time, the more disciplined the user is in Moneta’s eyes, the more benefits the user enjoys. Moneta eliminates the fundamental financial inequities, by treating everyone equally for rewarding credit discipline. Users are evaluated based on their behaviors and attitudes rather than their basic income or status” says Shayanthan. Consumers can utilize the rewards with any merchant network in Moneta. At the same time, like other financial institutes, Moneta also has a late fee and will take action against those who avoid paying back credit. But for Moneta, this is the last resort as its first choice is to work with consumers.
Being a helpful friend during hard times
“First and foremost, Moneta aims to be the best partner in need to our users,” says Shayanthan. Hence, Moneta offers a three-day grace period for payments. During that time, the app sends a few reminders. It’s not uncommon during our busy lives to forget things, even bills. Therefore, most of Moneta’s users can often settle their dues in that time frame after a reminder.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, there are instances where users cannot pay due to a sudden financial crisis. Such instances can take the form of a sudden medical emergency or losing their job. During the pandemic, many faced similar circumstances. Moneta’s approach to these cases, Shayanthan explained, was, “After our users who faced these hard times reached out to us, we sat down with them. Together, we restructured their payment plan (disregarding any late fees) to best fit their situation. Informing their inability to pay on time by themself is considered as a good behavior rather than hiding away.”
Encouraging users’ positive credit behavior
Credit behavior is the way each individual handles credit. Someone with good credit behavior can be identified as someone who pays their due amount for credit on or before the due date. Simply making a few late payments doesn’t make your credit behavior terrible. It’s the repeated pattern of missed and late fees that cause credit behavior to be labeled as ‘bad.’
Encouragement through rewards
Being rewarded for a behavior encourages the continuation of it. Being awarded also gives us satisfaction and affirms that we have done something good and valuable. Moneta’s rewards system utilizes a rewarding culture to encourage users’ disciplined credit behavior.
“Instead of punishing people for not paying their credit, we are trying to bring them into a pool of reward culture,” Shayanathan explains. “If they pay their dues in time, we monitor and then we give them rewards to subsidize the price when users buy anything from our merchant’s network. If they continue the good credit behaviors, the consumers can enjoy a credit facility that actually needs to pay zero or even negative transaction fees through rewards and benefits.”
Creating a disciplined credit culture
Moneta is also providing users to learn and understand financial educational resources. Moneta will be creating courses about good credit discipline. They hope to change the existing behaviors and increase understanding and awareness of credit through this.
Moving forward, Moneta aims to create a good credit culture and a good credit infrastructure that customers can seamlessly consume or access for their lifestyle needs. Elaborating on this, Shayanthan said, “You use credit to get some money and spend it on something. Instead of just that, the infrastructure will help you improve your credit discipline, identify your needs and enable you to receive benefits and get more out of it. That’s what we mean by good credit infrastructure.”
Culture can be defined simply as how things are done in a particular field or area. And credit culture can be explained as the system of behavior, beliefs, philosophy, thought, style, and expression relating to the management of the credit function. All those who interact with credit must have the strict discipline necessary to create a strong credit culture.
As Moneta continues growing its user base, they plan on creating more partnerships, bringing more exclusive benefits to their users with good credit behavior. They hope to steer Sri Lankan credit culture towards positivity and rewards by adding value to users’ lives through financial benefits.