Pledjar is an online platform and mobile app that transforms charitable giving in an increasingly cashless world. With a mission to digitalise the charity space, Pledjar provides solutions to remove the barriers between charities and donors by connecting them through open banking technology. Pledjar brings donors to the charities in many ways, one example is giving people the option to round up their daily transactions to the nearest pound and donate the surplus to a charity of their choice. The Pledjar model also allows charities to receive small but regular donations as well as one off gifts, with little outreach or promotion on their part.
A 2020 fintech start up, Pledjar are the first UK open banking technology platform in the charity space directly authorised by the FCA. They work closely with the Charities Aid foundation giving them access to thousands of charities. Especially significant for the smaller grass roots charities, none of them will have to make a direct investment to reap the benefits of online contactless methods of receiving donations, thus bringing a modern equilibrium to the charity space.
We met CEO, Mujtaba Jaffer who co-founded Pledjar just last year and is serious about disrupting the charity space. We talked to him about his motivation for launching the tool and his reasons for certifying Pledjar to the Counter Fraud Fundamental scheme (CFF).
What inspired you to create Pledjar?
My grandparents are from the middle east, and they migrated to Africa which is where I was born. I was privileged to come to the UK in 2009 and study law, after which I worked in a financial institution. The thing about growing up in Africa, is poverty is first hand. Giving has never been about how much or how little, it has always been about the fact that you actually give, and that is enough, and that’s how it is in Africa. I embarked on Pledjar as part of my journey to give back and make it easy for others to do the same.
How has the pandemic effected charities?
Did you know that in the UK, the charity collection tins used to raise over £320 million in spare change? During the pandemic, not only were people staying at home and not walking around, people also stopped using cash. What happened to that £320 million? Pledjar wanted to innovate by trying to digitalize the collection tins and that spare change using open banking technology. A dominantly contactless society is not too far away, and charities are feeling the pinch. Street donations given in cash have fallen by a massive 73 per cent and it is likely that a lack of cash in the pocket is contributing to this. It is estimated that over three quarters of young working professionals that are likely to have disposal income use contactless to shop at supermarkets and are naturally likely to follow suit in the way they donate. There is a whole demographic out there that can donate but are not being catered for in terms of their preferred method of donating.
Charities normally raise £20 billion a year but in 2020 they only raised 15 billion. If the charity sector wants to thrive in the future, it will need to adapt. The core function of Pledjar has been to provide digitalisation in the charity space in all fronts, from spare change, to donations, to campaigns, to POS machines, and taking international payments. We are excited to have been ranked in 14th place in the 2020 Business Cloud’s 100 FinTech Disrupters, and voted the highest round up disrupter. Pledjar was also a finalist in open banking expo 2021 (open banking for good) and mentioned as a “top 10 charity fundraising app for 2021” by Charity Digital.
How did you hear about the Counter Fraud Fundamentals scheme?
We were in discussions with Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) and asking for some guidance about conducting an independent security validation of our infrastructure. They suggested that we reach out to the guys at IASME who introduced us to the Counter Fraud Fundamentals Scheme.
I really liked the idea of getting a copy of the set of questions so that we can be prepped in advance. We sat down with our compliance and risk department and our tech team and we looked over the assessment and considered the requirements. We set to addressing everything on there, one point at a time. Head of the scheme, Craig Wooldridge also sent us some leads as to where we could get certain information to help us with drafting all the documentation and putting it all together. When we applied to the FCA, they had a similar risk assessment, so it was not too difficult for us. I think we managed to do it in three or four days, which was brilliant.
What do you see as the worth of the CFF certification?
Open banking is still in it’s early years, I think the adoption is around 3 million users. The biggest worry of course has always been around security. We’ve done very thorough market research and spoken to many people, many of whom still need reassurance that their personal information and accounts are secure. I don’t blame them, because fraud is on the rise in the UK and cyber crime is a big problem for everyone.
The fact that there are certifications like the Counter Fraud Fundamentals really gives people the extra assurance that there have been measures put in place and best practice guidelines followed. It’s extremely important for trust and credibility and helps with peace of mind as customers adopt tools and services that use the open banking technology. I hope that more financial organisations take up the scheme to help the sector gain that credibility in combatting fraud.
For more information about Pledjar, visit their website.
Find out more about the Counter Fraud Fundamentals Scheme here.