The consumer debt crisis affects millions of Americans, and the evidence is everywhere. CNBC reports that, five years after the housing recovery began, 5.9 million borrowers, or 12% of homeowners, still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. U.S. credit card debt is on track to hit $1 trillion this year, approaching the all-time peak of $1.02 trillion set in July 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, most consumers do not have a plan to overcome this crisis, and MarketWatch reports that more than two-thirds of Americans don’t have a budget.

Matthew Cooper, the Co-Founder of EarnUp, has seen the consumer debt crisis first hand, as he explains in an interview with Simple.Innovative.Change (S.I.C): “Struggles with debt and debt companies affect almost everyone. My parents have suffered. I have suffered. I watched my parents go through decades of this struggle and my cofounder Nadim had a similar experience. My parents got their first home loan in the mid-80’s and after a standard 30 year loan they should be debt free now. However, as is so often the case, they are still heavily indebted heading toward retirement. This is a precarious and difficult situation, and it affect tens of millions of people. It’s just not right.”

As Matthew learned more, he identified some critical problems, such as bad advice from financial professionals and confusing information from lenders. “The abysmal customer service and payment experience of most lenders in the US makes it exceptionally hard to understand your loans and get ahead. EarnUp was born with a vision to change this.”

A solution for consumers

Along with his business partner, Nadim Homsany, Matthew created EarnUp as a solution to the consumer debt problem, which affects the 200 million Americans that have loans outstanding. “EarnUp is a consumer-first platform that intelligently automates consumers’ loan payments. Think of it as a personal CFO for managing all your loans. We help put money aside as it comes in, giving people peace of mind in knowing the money they need will be there when loan payments need to be made. Then we make the loan payments for you in the way that gets you out of debt fastest. We have hundreds of millions in consumer loans managed on the platform today and our customers tell us they love the product. It’s very exciting to be part of.”

Why this solution is so important now

Automating the budget process helps consumers pay down debt in a systematic way, and the need for a solution like EarnUp has never been greater. In addition to home mortgage loans and credit card debt, student loan debt is also a huge burden for many consumers. According to MarketWatch, total student loan debt stands at over $1.2 trillion, and total consumer loans owned by the federal government have increased sharply in recent years.

As the average consumer takes on more debt, the need for planning becomes more critical. EarnUp was created to meet that need.

Improving consumer health

EarnUp works with several advocacy groups to improve consumer health, including the Financial Solutions Lab (Finlab) partnership with JP Morgan. As Matthew explains: “Firstly, the FinLab is awesome. We are honored to be one of the 2016 winners. It provides us access to an impressive set of partners at leading consumer advocacy groups like CFSI as well as some of the largest financial institutions in the world including JP Morgan. We are actively working with these organizations on product ideas and research to improve consumer financial health.”

Matthew explains how partners collaborate with EarnUp: “Through the Lab, we are also working with a number of their industry partners including Promontory, Ideo.org, CMO.la, and Ideas42. It is humbling to have ongoing engagement with resources of this caliber. They are helping to focus us on how to improve the EarnUp platform and make it accessible to a broader range of users who are not well served by their current financial products.”

The market for this financial solution

Matthew Cooper explains that middle-income families can benefit the most from using EarnUp. “Our product can help any American that has debt. There are over 200 million Americans with loans today and any one of these people can benefit from a simpler loan payment experience. That said, we have a specific passion for helping consumers who are actively struggling with their loans. These struggles are most common among, but certainly not isolated to, lower-income and middle-income communities.”

In order to best serve customers, EarnUp focuses on simplicity. The company also intends to add financial education resources to the site, which empowers consumers to make financial decisions. This reflects EarnUp’s focus on helping a diverse group of consumers, which includes people in all income levels and from a variety of backgrounds.

For the full Matthew Cooper interview, please visit the S.I.C website.