Experian recently acquired a minority stake in Finicity, a leading financial data aggregator enabling innovation in the FinTech industry through its modern RESTful API and Finicity Aggregation Platform. Steve Smith—chairman, CEO and co-founder of Finicity—has a passion and experience in developing innovative and disruptive technology, products and services that leads to efficiency for markets and, ultimately, improvements for consumers. Here he shares his thoughts about disruptive technology in the lending space and its benefits to lenders and consumers.
Q: Finicity has said its objective is to take a loan application approval from weeks to minutes using its technology. That sounds pretty great, but how is that possible? How does this play out behind the scenes?
A: Well, we’re living in a world where we, as consumers, expect very user-friendly experiences and we expect things to happen at digital speeds. The loan process is no exception. To deliver the experience consumers are expecting requires us to leverage the technology trends of digitization, mobility and big data. Finicity plays a foundational role by leveraging thousands of digital connections across financial institutions to aggregate consumer-permissioned account data. Once we have this data, we’re able to deliver real-time insights into an individual’s financial health. This financial health assessment includes income and assets, two critical components to the loan approval process. All that’s required is the borrower to permission use of the data. Once that’s done, we’re able to gather all appropriate data across multiple accounts, rapidly analyze it and send a verification report to the lender. No papers. No multiple requests. No questions on the validity of the data. All done in minutes, not weeks.
Q: This is very disruptive technology. What are the benefits for lenders? Consumers?
A: Well, as we discussed, one of the major benefits is the speed to a loan. Furthermore, this reduces cost for the lender by maximizing loan officer’s time, while also freeing up loan capital as they can move through loans more quickly with a higher quality assessment. Another benefit for lenders is reduced fraud. Our information on income and assets is coming from real-time bank validated information. This eliminates the possibility of altered data. For consumers, it’s a dramatically simplified process. No need to chase down multiple documents. There are virtually no second requests for information, which we often see in the process. And they’re always in control of their information. All in all, it’s a dramatically better experience for both the lender and the borrower.
Q: What sets this solution apart from others in the market?
A: A few things set Finicity apart in delivering the quality of insights required. First, we are an industry leader in the number of financial institutions we connect with, ensuring broader access for more customers. Second, 95 percent of our integrations provide access to formatted data, something that’s critical to credit decisioning solutions. In these cases, we’re not screen scraping. This enhances our ability to collect bank validated transactions; we provide the financial institution transaction ID. This provides assurance of data quality. Finally, is our ability to categorize and analyze the transactions. This allows us to identify income streams and assets. Through this process, we’re also able to flag unusual transactions, like large deposits, that may skew actual assets.
Q: The future of financial technology is still evolving. What lies ahead?
A: We’re very excited about the future of financial technology and the impact that aggregation will have. Whether it’s financial management, digital payments or credit decisioning, real-time data will improve the experiences and the outcomes. As we’re talking about lending, this is one of the spaces that could see significant disruption. Our ability to generate a richer view of an individual’s or organization’s financial health will more accurately determine their ability to repay a loan. This will be a great benefit for those that have thin file or no credit history. We see a world where suitability for a loan will be driven by their actual financial life independent of their use of credit. One of the largest markets in the US is millennials. However, for consumers under 30, two-thirds have subprime or non-prime credit scores and one-third of millennials don’t have any credit history. This is just one group underserved because legacy models don’t leverage the full extent of data available.
Q: Is there anything else you can tell us about Finicity and its role changing customer experiences across financial service?
A: For us, it all comes down to one thing: enabling individuals and organizations to have the information and insights they need to make smarter financial decisions. The data is there. We’re helping to unlock the potential of that data by working with innovative partners like Experian.
To learn more about Experian and Finicity’s account aggregation solutions, visit www.experian.com/finicity