Banks in Asia use customer smartphone data points, such as how often they discharge their battery, to determine whether or not they are eligible for a loan.
While this may seem like an unusual qualifying criterion, Singapore-based startup Lenddo believes it can help people without a traditional credit history borrow money.
Lenddo chairman and founder Jeff Stewart said the company is already helping dozens of banks analyze data from millions of smartphones around the world. He declined to name them, citing the terms of their trade agreements.
The 5-year company The software platform analyzes thousands of data points, from a smartphone user’s messaging and browsing activity to the apps and Wi-Fi network they use. Factors like cell towers on a telephone pings are also examined.
But what does all of this have to do with credit scores?
“Social online and [mobile] behavior are predictive, ”Stewart told CNNMoney.
Take messaging, for example. Items such as the foreign language used and the length of the text reveals patterns of behavior, he added.
While battery level doesn’t matter too much in real time, the company is looking at how that changes over a specific amount of time – it can indicate how consistent a person is and how much they are planning ahead.
Lenddo places the data points in a complex proprietary algorithm, which calculates the probability that a person will default on a loan. Lenders then decide on the default rate they want to accept.
Banks either buy a license to use Lenddo’s software, which is integrated with an existing banking application, or Lenndo can create a separate application for the bank. It takes less than three minutes to calculate a rate through Lenddo, according to Stewart.
While some mobile behaviors could impact the outcome of a credit score (as always run out of battery), Stewart said extremely well-maintained smartphones also raise a red flag in the system.
“Our algorithm looks badly at someone who is too robotic,” said Stewart. “There is a mess in being human.”
Lenddo’s technology has helped banks make millions of dollars in loans since its global launch in January 2015, he said. But its program is mainly used by lenders in emerging markets, such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. Most people in these areas do not have traditional bank accounts or credit cards, but access to a smartphone is growing.
The average loan size is around a month’s salary – in the Philippines, it’s around $ 400, says Stewart – with an average repayment period of nine months. While the number of loans Lenddo has helped distribute so far is not public, the volume has grown more in the past month than in the entire fourth quarter of last year, he added. .
Lenddo’s goal is to help 1 billion people access financial services by 2020.
Even if Lenddo is not used in the United States, insurance companies like Liberty Mutual and State Farm have started adopting a similar methodology to help determine auto insurance discounts.
For example, companies have asked customers to submit information collected from their smartphones’ GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope to find out how people drive, brake and turn.
The trend of using smartphone data to make financial decisions is spreading into other categories as well. Lenddo is already helping companies like Globe and Indosat, two telecommunications networks in the Philippines and Indonesia, become lenders.
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 24, 2016: 4:00 p.m. ET