NatWest launches Open Banking app for house sharers

NatWest is trialling an Open Banking app to help to help renters living in a house share split bills and build their credit files.

The Housemate app, which is currently in a pilot phase, is set to be rolled out more widely in 2021.

The banking group is the first incumbent to release an API-enabled app to facilitate bill sharing for those living in shared accommodation.

Research from PwC suggests that 20 per cent of UK households are currently renting from a private landlord, and this figure is projected to overtake the number of households that are mortgaged by 2025.

The move into digital services for this group comes as NatWest expands ways of supporting the growing number of people who will be renting for longer.

The app will offer features including bill tracking, enabling housemates who owe each other money to instantly pay one another using Open Banking. The technology lets each housemate securely link their current account to the app and make payments to those they owe money to.

The app will also help with building credit files: private renters do not ordinarily have their rent payments communicated to credit bureaus.

This means renters miss out on the opportunity to build their credit files, which can reduce access to financial products and the best rates for loans and mortgages.

By using Housemate, the bank can verify transactions for rent payments then send that information to Experian who add it to an individual’s credit file.

Wendy Redshaw, chief digital information officer, at retail banking DigiTech at NatWest said: “From our own research we found that 84 per cent of renters find organising shared flat finances frustrating. With Housemate, we have created a ‘one stop shop’ for renters to simplify this experience, enabling those in shared accommodation manage their joint finances smoothly and at any time.”

She added: “At NatWest, our purpose is to champion the potential of customers and our wider society, part of which is to help develop good money management skills so that people are empowered to make better financial decisions. Building a credit score is an important part of that, whether it’s for renting their next home or applying for a mortgage - Housemate helps brilliantly with this.”

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