Alibaba's Ant Financial takes credit scoring to a new level

Alibaba's Ant Financial takes credit scoring to a new level

Ant Financial, the financial services arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is leveraging Big Data technology and all of its considerable customer assets to launch a powerful new credit scoring agency.

Sesame Credit will use a scoring system based on online and offline data to generate individual credit scores for millions of small business owners and consumers across China. Alongside the usual credit history and trust scores, data collated will include analytics around consumer online behaviour, including shopping habits and interpersonal relationships.

“Sesame Credit is focused on those who may have little credit history at traditional credit agencies,” says Yu Wujie, chief data scientist of Sesame Credit. “They may have never obtained bank loans or applied for credit cards. However, they might be active Internet users who shop online a lot, e-pay their utility bills on time, have a stable residential status and have been using their mobile phone numbers for a long time. We will take these and other factors into consideration when assessing consumers’ creditworthiness.”

Ant Financial was created in October, when Alibaba folded six different businesses into a single business unit as part of a concerted push into the financial services industry. The division is reportedly contemplating an IPO next year that would value it at $50 billion according to Bloomberg.

Currently operating in beta, Sesame Credit is able to collect data from more than 300 million real-name registered users and 37 million small businesses that buy and sell on Alibaba Group marketplaces including Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com. Payment histories are also available from Alipay, a subsidiary of Ant Financial that is China’s largest online payment provider.

The company says it is also working actively with public agencies, financial institutions, and various types of merchants to obtain more data that can effectively reflect consumers’ creditworthiness.

Users will be able to check their Sesame Scores both in the Alipay Wallet mobile app and through merchant websites that accept Sesame Credit services.

Eric Jing, Ant Financial COO, says: “By leveraging the big data we have and the state-of-art technology we deploy, we believe the debut of Sesame Credit will not only enable credit providers to make holistic and accurate decisions, but will also empower merchants to provide more credit-related services.”

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