The COVID-19 crisis is creating financial hardships for many people who have been laid off, furloughed, or taken pay cuts, which could lead to some people taking out bank or payday loans or piling up debt on a credit card.
Through its app-based lending, the company wants to help financially distressed people stay afloat without turning to high-interest alternatives—some of which may charge interest as high as 400 percent.
“What we’re trying to do is make it easy for those people to get access to the capital that they need,” Zirtue co-founder and CEO Dennis Cail told Dallas Innovates.
The Zirtue peer-to-peer lending platform lets friends and family lend and borrow funds from one another in a more official setting.
Dallas-based Zirtue also wants to help businesses collect more and write off less. Zirtue’s relationship-based app allows friends and family to pay an account holder’s bill with terms they work out between themselves, the company says.
Zirtue is already working with companies like AT&T and UT Southwestern Medical, and is seeking additional partners.
“We’ve seen extended growth in our corporate partners, and an [increase in] interest so we’re onboarding more corporate partners at a faster rate now than we were prior to this outbreak happening. So, clearly the market, and the situation and environment is saying, ‘you know, there is a need for this,'” Cail said.
How Zirtue’s relationship-based lending works
Via an app, the borrower can set a loan amount, while a friend’s and family lender establishes the repayment terms. Once terms are agreed to by both parties, the loan request is then serviced by Zirtue.
The peer-to-peer loans are legally binding, the company says.
For a corporate partner, wants to help collect accounts receivable. Zirtue allows friends and family to pay an account holder’s bill. The partner company can refer a bill by askings account holders, “Need some help paying? Try Zirtue.”
Upon approval of a loan transaction, Zirtue sends the funds directly to the business partner to credit an account.
While the COVID-19 crisis continues, Zirtue plans to offer one month free for all new borrowers starting on April 1, and they will be able to defer monthly loan payments for three-plus months, forgive a loan made to a friend or family member, and send and receive referrals and receive $5 from Zirtue.
Zirtue is still processing loans during crisis
Cail said that loans are still being approved during the crisis.
“This may go on for six months may go on for a year,” Cail told Dallas Innovates. “But the point is it gives them the flexibility to really get the financial support or the financial lifeline that they need and gives them breathing room to get back to a place of normalcy.”
Cail said the response so far has been good.
“The response has been very positive. We’ve seen a spike in registered users,” Cail said.
Fintech platforms see accelerated adoption
He said the crisis is showing the importance of digital fintech platforms in serving the public.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Cail said. “I think moments like this help to accelerate user adoption. If you look at it, fintech companies like Zirtue, for example, we’re really just making a better offer here.”
He said that Zirtue also becomes a good alternative payment method for customers to pay their bills with Zirtue’s corporate partners.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report.
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