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Startup vows to 'humanise' credit market via social media data

21 July 2015  |  7015 views  |  4 Numbers

A fintech startup is attempting to humanise the credit market by using unstructured data such as social media signals.

The new company, Hello Soda, has developed a platform that assesses customers' creditworthiness based on what its founders believe is more relevant data than the traditional credit rating model which are based on historical financial performance.

For example, unstructured data through social media may give more of an idea of applicants' true circumstances, such as a recent promotion, say the company's founders, three former employees with credit reference agency Callcredit.

Hello Soda also believes that its approach will not only reduce fraud but lead to more responsible lending through a greater reliance on human behaviour in the credit decision making process.

"That human element, especially in lending, disappeared before the financial crash in 2008 when the world changed, leaving many people unable to access credit," says co-founder and chief executive James Blake. "With the exponential growth in online data, it makes sense to take a ‘snapshot’ of a person’s real life and cross reference that with traditional metrics to further verify an individual’s application in a way that benefits the customer and lending provider."

Hello Soda's launch comes on the back of a report released today by the Consumer Finance Association (CFA), Credit 2.0 - a commentary on spending and borrowing in the 21st century, which criticises lenders for failing to keep up with current consumer habits. In particular, it says that traditional financial services providers have been left standing by a number of short-term lenders using pioneering technology.

"Technology is changing the way we live and our 'instant society' demands quick decisions, simple products and convenient ways to borrow small sums for short periods of time," said CFA boss Russell Hamblin Boone, addressing UK members of parliament upon the launch of the report. "Critics of innovation that refuse to accept the change by holding back the tide could find themselves swept away by modern life."

Comments: (4)

Clive Munn
Clive Munn - MFTSE Affairs S.A. - Luxembourg | 22 July, 2015, 05:01

I think this is the future and that it will help people get back on the credit / economic ladder. However this is not the first time I have seen and heard this model.

May I ask where is the regulation which we now know is paramount to success in the financial world? CRA's are regulated so to me it follows that there should be third party scrutiny and transparency on this development. You mention the CFA but what exacly is their role in all this?

I look forward to hearing your comments / response.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 22 July, 2015, 15:57

Yeah right. 83% of Lending Club borrowers use the funds to pay off loans and credit card debt from traditional FSPs (http://t.co/SL7oYPazC1). So, the traditional FSPs have got their money back already. Now, they can go ahead and lend to anyone and everyone, confident that they will get their money back via LendingClub and the scores of other nonbank lenders. If at all anybody will be "left standing by a number of short-term lenders", it will more likely be the VCs who have invested in them at skyhigh valuations.

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Tejasvi Addagada
Tejasvi Addagada - Fortune 500 financial service provider - Bangalore | 22 July, 2015, 19:38

Data is an enterprise asset as its relevance in decision making and Business Value articulation is increasingly discovered.

There are around 10,000 to 15,000 variables that can be used by scoring models that weigh differently.

There is a study which states that financial institutions reduce risk of default by 10%-20%. While some traditional banks are disrupting their business models in using these advanced services, some banks are planning to catch up. This shows the paradigm shift leading to economic dependence on the data analysis.

While we do understand that these advanced scoring capabilities assist lenders who do not have access to Credit Bureaus, I would like to see the capabilities assisting financial institutions lend to customers in the sphere beyond Payday and student loans.
Further reading : http://www.finextra.com/blogs/fullblog.aspx?blogid=10002 

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Clive Munn
Clive Munn - MFTSE Affairs S.A. - Luxembourg | 23 July, 2015, 05:25

I agree with Ketharaman and Tejasvi but my point is that the regulatory authorities need to be there behind any new initiatives helping them move forward and ensuring that nobody is squeezed i.e. ethical and social justice must be paramount.

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