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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Banks Using Mobile Phone Usage To Gauge Credit Risk 196

Hugh Pickens writes "A new startup is revolutionizing the way financial service companies meet the needs of an estimated 2.7 billion people worldwide with a mobile phone but no access to formal financial services by developing sophisticated modeling software that can look at usage data from consumers' mobile phones and make predictions about credit risk. 'There's a vast market of consumers in countries like Brazil, China, India, and the Philippines who want access to financial services like credit cards, loans, or insurance,' says Jonathan Hakim, chief executive of Cignifi. 'But while they may have jobs, and some have bank accounts, there really is no credit history for them.' The way you use your phone is a proxy for your lifestyle say the developers. 'We're looking at things like the length of calls, the time of day, and the location you make them from. Also things like whether you top up [a pre-paid SIM card] regularly. We want to see how stable the patterns are. When you look at that, you can create these behavioral clusters that give you information about users' appetite for new [financial] products, and their ability to repay a debt.' Currently operating in Brazil, Cignifi doesn't plan to deploy the technology in the US. in the near-term. 'The business opportunity is so much bigger in Brazil, India, China, and Mexico, where you have around half a billion people in those four markets alone who have a mobile phone but no banking relationship.'"
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Banks Using Mobile Phone Usage To Gauge Credit Risk

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  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @04:09PM (#38783853)

    I disagree. I live off of credit for day-to-day things for a very simple reason: my income is very consistent and infrequent (payday).

    I know how much money I'll have at the end of the month down to the penny. I also know that my credit card is due 1 month after the statement. So if I want to make a big purchase that I can't afford for instance I can buy it now and pay it off in up to 2 months interest free. My bank account usually has enough cash on hand to cover my monthly expenses but when it doesn't I use it to smooth out the discrepancies between my wants and my pay-dates. Why wait a week for pay-day when the credit card bill won't be due until the end of the month? It makes my income and my expenses both equally predictable instead of the haphazard day-to-day uncertainty of spending.

    As a result I've never paid a penny in interest, I've flown around the world on my miles and my bill paying is far more predictable and automated.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2012 @04:31PM (#38784073)

    In civilised countries you only need steady income and a valid payment plan.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @05:05PM (#38784389) Homepage Journal

    Maybe you should consider moving somewhere that doesn't massively gouge you on housing prices. The average new home costs about three years' salary in the U.S. unless you are in a major city. Even in smaller cities (in most states), you can get a fairly nice home for maybe 200 grand, which is only about 4 years at U.S. median income.

    Now I realize that you can't put 100% of your salary into a house, but assuming both of you work, it's hard to imagine not being able to save more than 10% of your combined total income every year.... That's how little you'd have to save for it to take 20 years (on average).

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @05:51PM (#38784865) Journal
    I'm not sure how you get from the first three to the fourth one. For example, I took out a mortgage a little under two years ago to buy a house. As a result, I am now paying in mortgage interest less than a third of what I was paying in rent. Because the house I bought has better insulation than the place I was renting, my gas bill has gone down. Because I bought new appliances when I moved, rather than using the old ones that came with my rented flat, my electricity bill is also down. And yet, I am quite clearly not avoiding all debt - I have more debt now than I have ever had, yet my monthly cost of living is much lower and, as a result, I am paying back the mortgage quite quickly. In a few years, it should be fully paid off. At that point, my cost of living will be even lower. In contrast, if I'd avoided all debt, I'd still be slowly saving up to buy a house, while paying someone else for the privilege of living in a property that they owned.
  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @06:33PM (#38785271)

    That may work for you, but most of us don't have >100.000 euro in our bank accounts when we want/need a house.

    Which isn't a problem, because houses would be cheaper. Loans make things more expensive by creating artificial demand.

    You'd think that after the recent housing debacle people would understand that.

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