A little more than a year removed from the beginning of the pandemic, and we’re still seeing many of the most vulnerable and underserved communities struggling to find a stable financial foothold. These are consumers with little to no credit history and are often underrepresented in the network of bank branches and sometimes less familiar with what’s available to them in the consumer credit system.
The pandemic has taken a toll on the fabric of our financial ecosystem, and we need to help these consumers get back on their feet.
That’s one of the reasons we’ve partnered with the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C. Together, we’re launching a broad financial health initiative to assist multiple African American communities suffering COVID-19-related hardship.
But the partnership is just one of the ways Experian is assisting marginalized and underserved communities.
Addressing Financial Inclusion
Experian is deeply committed to helping marginalized and low-income communities access the financial resources they need to live. That’s why we’re working to ensure we find ways to help underserved consumers gain access to fair and affordable credit by assisting them in building their credit profiles.
We view ourselves as “The Consumers’ Bureau,” and it’s our commensurate responsibility to do everything we can to drive financial inclusion. We are working side-by-side with lenders, credit scoring companies and consumers to eliminate credit invisibility and improve financial equity. Our teams at Experian, diverse as they are, feel passionate about this very important mission.
We understand that a big part of the solution relies on bringing new sources of data into our credit files, so that credit scores reflect all of a consumers’ relevant financial behavior. We strongly believe that these new sources of data will augment and thereby enhance our current credit data as an effective means for lenders’ assessment of a consumer’s financial situation. There’s a percentage of the population—on average, it’s 17% of Americans, measured by FICO—who are excluded from the credit economy because they simply lack a credit history. To that end, we’ve been a pioneer in using rental, utilities and telecom payment data to help broaden credit access for consumers.
Boosting 6 Million
In fact, more than two years ago, we created Experian Boost, which was a first-of-its-kind service designed to help consumers instantly improve their FICO® Score by giving them credit for on-time utility, telecom and streaming service payments. All of those elements are conceived to be part of people’s credit scores, however utility and cell phone providers have not collaborated to report their data to all credit bureaus. With Experian Boost, we empower consumers to report the data themselves, and more importantly, 70% of consumers benefit from doing so, seeing an uplift in their credit score.
And to date, more than 6 million consumers have used Experian Boost with over 50 million cumulative points added to FICO Scores across the US.
Our Commitment to Financial Health
But our commitment doesn’t end there. Consumer credit education and best practices are key to setting marginalized consumers up for financial success. Through Experian’s United for Financial Health initiative—we’re empowering vulnerable people and communities to improve their financial wellbeing through that very belief. In addition to our partnership with the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C., we’re working closely with Operation HOPE, Black Girl Ventures, and NAACP Empowerment Programs, to help disenfranchised groups improve their credit standing, provide entrepreneurial education for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs, and offer grants to help homeowners at risk of losing their homes
In addition to our consumer credit education initiatives with our partners, we continually push credit education materials and programming through our own social media channels and community outreach efforts. In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we’re hosting a #CreditChat on Wednesday, April 28 at 3 p.m. ET, entitled, Closing the Financial Literacy Gap in Underserved Communities.
We believe helping underserved communities better understand the credit ecosystem and equipping them with the tools and knowledge to improve their credit standing, are mission critical to a healthier financial life. And we’re hopeful this #CreditChat discussion is another step forward in that journey.
We won’t rest until the job’s done. We’ll continue to innovate and find new ways to use data in the credit scoring process, and work arm-in-arm with consumers and lenders to improve financial access. Through our investments in data and advanced analytics, we’ll continue to help lenders identify consumers who are excluded from the credit ecosystem, but who can fulfill their financial obligations and pay responsibly.
We want to empower consumers to take control of their financial lives, and will continue to take strides to do so.