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article imageQ&A: The future of credit and the role of AI in its evolution Special

By Tim Sandle     Nov 17, 2019 in Business
The future of credit is instant and done via virtual and augmented reality, voice and text to give consumers better shopping experiences and more access to credit, according to Eric Haller of Experian in an interview with Digital Journal.
Long gone are the days of going to retailers or car dealerships and needing to fill out forms and wait in lines to apply for credit. With the technology advancements coming out of organizations such as Experian’s DataLabs, the future of credit centers on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which are paramount in the transformation of credit, according to Haller.
Digital Journal spoke with Eric Haller, EVP & Global Head of Experian DataLabs to learn more.
Digital Journal: How much easier is it to get credit these days?
Eric Haller: Overall I’d say it’s definitely easier to get credit today because people have the option to be more transparent about their “real selves” with lenders. If someone is new to the country, young or just hasn’t had the opportunity to establish credit for themselves – in the past it was very challenging to start getting in the credit market. But now with technology advancements like Experian Boost, consumers can choose to share more about themselves with lenders like how good they are at just paying their everyday life bills. Now individuals can benefit from making their rent and utility payments on time and that positive behavior can help consumers to receive credit when perhaps in the past they were almost invisible to lenders.
DJ: How has technology helped with this process?
Haller: Other advancements in technology are allowing people to also get past the hurdles of time and effort to obtain credit as well. For example, rather than being asked at the register if someone would like retail credit in their favorite store, consumers can have the control and opportunity to obtain credit while in the store but on their iPhone or Android device. Eventually they may be able to simply just talk to their television, their Amazon Echo or Google smart speaker. But in the end, technology will help for the process to require less from a consumer and for decisions to be made much faster.
DJ: What will text for credit involve?
Haller:Text for Credit is a product created in our DataLabs and is now being marketed by Experian’s credit bureau business to financial services companies and retailers. It gets past the “chicken and egg” challenge of requiring consumers to download a mobile app or tap in a lot of information into their mobile device to obtain credit. The product only requires a consumer to text a trigger word like “credit” to a short code provided by the retailer. In the text response they receive back, they are given their disclosure and option to participate further in the credit evaluation process.
They click on a hyperlink to continue and they are instantly ported to a mobile web browser where they are greeted by name and asked to answer some simple questions. Once authenticated, they are pre-approved for instant credit right on their device. Assuming the credit line meets their needs, they are asked to complete their credit application – with most of the data already filled out on their behalf by Experian. Once submitted, lenders can provision to them instant credit in the store. The scenarios may change – such as obtaining an auto loan to a buy a new car, receiving credit to install a new furnace in your home or being pre-approved for a mortgage while touring a home with a real estate agent. But the experience is always fast, convenient and as private as one would prefer.
DJ: How about voice for credit?
Haller:The “guts” of both voice for credit and text for credit are identical. All the decision systems, machine learning and data in place for authentication, credit decisioning and responses with consumers and lenders are mostly identical. The difference is in how consumers engage in the credit buying experience. With Text for Credit, it’s some typing and likely to take place on your mobile device. With Voice for Credit, the keyboard goes away. Everything is driven by your voice and Experian takes advantage of fantastic voice recognition technologies already in place complements of Apple, Amazon and Google. We have a core belief that this market will really accelerate as voice and display become more integrated. As the world does more of their shopping and credit purchasing while talking with these various devices, Experian has ensured that the skills required to support Voice for Credit are already in place.
DJ: How will artificial intelligence further change the credit application process?
Haller:There are confluence of technologies that are coming together that are reshaping the way we think about credit. 5G means more ambient or passive data can be picked up that may help both expedite and increase the validity of id authentication. Conversational technology, or natural language processing, may make for less ambiguity in conversation and allow for a better matching process between a credit product and the needs of an individual.
Computer vision may also help to synch a buyers interest in a car they are proximal to and proactively engage the buyer with credit that may be available to them in that moment for that vehicle. And of course, the advancements in predictive modeling created by approaches such as gradient boosted trees allow for the optimal decision based on all data available. All these opportunities are driven by artificial intelligence. So in a nutshell – artificial intelligence will make credit even easier to access in the moment we believe we need it.
DJ: What will virtual or augmented reality deliver to the credit process?
Haller:Experian DataLabs are engaged in developing credit applications with both augmented (or mixed) reality and virtual reality. We are actively experimenting with Magic Leap’s One Lightware, Microsoft’s HoloLens and Facebook’s Occulus. Our take on both channels are that there is still the hurdle of investment required for consumers to have the right equipment to leverage the benefits of these technologies. Until there is a major push in the market like we’ve experienced with Amazon, Google and Apple and their smart speaker technologies, it’s likely virtual and mixed reality will remain a novelty or associated with gaming.
But, to make sure Experian is leaning on their front foot, we are experimenting with several experiences where consumers can interact in mixed reality with large ticket items they may require credit to purchase. In these situations, we are developing instant credit applications that can leverage the infrastructure we’ve already developed for mobile and voice.
DJ: How is Experian DataLabs assisting with the credit process?
Haller:Experian DataLabs is a safe and secure environment to engage in breakthrough experimentation so we can continue to bring new exciting, innovative products to our customers. We are obviously working on all the items we’ve discussed in the interview but with respect to credit – we really do address it from a number of different dimensions. We’re also actively engaged in developing products focused on artificial intelligence and transparency, fairness and privacy. In the end, consumers are demanding to be more in control of their credit process.
They want to have more of a say in how their data is used, who is exposed to it and ensured that every best effort has been made to give them the credit they merit. Experian DataLabs is actively engaged in all of this.
More about experian, Credit, Data, Artificial intelligence
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