Challenge

Without a fixed address of their own, homeless people find themselves in a lose-lose situation where not having a home makes it virtually impossible to open a bank account. Without a bank account they can’t claim benefits or store their money. Without an address and a bank account its harder to secure a legitimate job. All of which makes it harder to find a home. It’s a vicious circle that prevents these people from re-joining society’s system.

HSBC UK’s values are OPEN, CONNECTED and DEPENDABLE, and the bank believes that as a nation, and as individuals, we thrive more when we are connected to something bigger than ourselves. Our brief was to help HSBC UK reconnect the homeless back into society.

Inspiration

Rates of homelessness in the United Kingdom have skyrocketed in the past ten years. Figures from Shelter, a local homeless charity, show that in 2019 at least 280,000 people were homeless, with almost 4,600 sleeping rough.

Since then, COVID-19 has inflicted enormous economic hardship on the world. In the UK alone an additional 70,000 households have been made homeless since the pandemic began, with tens of thousands more at risk.

Becoming homeless is hard enough, but not having a bank account can make life even tougher. Having a bank account allows people who are homeless to receive wages and claim benefits – but along with an address it keeps them connected to society’s system.

Idea

Traditionally, banks require photo identification and proof of address to open an account. But these are documents that many homeless people may no longer have. So, the way in which society’s financial system has been designed means that once you’ve fallen out of it, it’s incredibly hard to find your way back in.

At HSBC UK branches, people without a fixed address can now open a bank account using a participating charity’s address as their proof of identity (as long as they are accompanied by a charity caseworker that is). This partnership allows the homeless to reconnect with society and helps break the cycle of financial exclusion.

To raise awareness of the service we took to the streets using data to pinpoint locations with the highest levels of homelessness that were also in close proximity to an HSBC UK branch that offered the service.

Growth

What started out in 2 branches has spread to almost 100 nationwide – with HSBC now partnering with over 70 organisations who can act as an identity verifier. HSBC UK has laid the groundwork for a platform to encourage other big banks to embark on a similar mission.

During the two-week out of home campaign, uptake of HSBC UK’s No Fixed Address bank accounts grew by 52%.

Though not a primary goal, the donations generated from the QR code helped Shelter get over 100 people off the street, with 1 in 5 scanners signing up to become regular donors.

And it has impacted positively on the brand too, contributing to positive growth in brand associations:

  • ‘HSBC UK supports the UK community’ +10% Year On Year
  • ’HSBC UK is a brand I would be proud to use’ +5% Year On Year
  • ‘HSBC UK cares about customers’ +12% Year On Year

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Awards

2021 Cannes Lions

Outdoor, Market Disruption


Gold

2021 Cannes Lions

Media, Use of Print/Outdoor


Gold