- Open banking innovator Plaid announced a new initiative to enable lenders to leverage consumer-permissioned cash flow data on prospective borrowers.
- The new entity will serve as a consumer reporting agency that will build solutions that deliver ready-made credit risk insights using this information.
- Founded in 2013, Plaid made its Finovate debut at our developers conference, FinDEVr, in 2014.
Is cash flow data the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to completing the picture of a person’s creditworthiness? A new initiative from open banking innovator Plaid suggests that the answer is “yes.”
“Lenders and consumers alike know that traditional credit scores don’t tell the full story of someone’s financial life,” Plaid Head of Credit Mike Saunders noted at the Plaid blog on Monday. “Information on savings, income, or on-time rent payments is often left out of the picture, even though this data is critical to understanding someone’s ability to pay back a loan.”
The new entity, announced by Plaid today, will create solutions for customers who want to leverage consumer-permissioned cash flow data to access ready-made credit risk insights. It will serve as a consumer reporting agency, according to Saunders, that will help Plaid’s customers make smarter decisions on risk throughout the lending process.
Plaid is joining a growing cohort of fintechs that have determined that while there remains a place for traditional credit scores, there is much that these scores leave out. This undermines the ability of lenders to serve otherwise qualified borrowers. It also creates hurdles for potential customers – from the “thin-file” recently-arrived immigrant professional to the young adult struggling to rebuild their credit. “Putting cash flow insights to work unlocks opportunities for lenders to grow their business while managing risk,” Saunders wrote. “This fosters inclusion, expands credit access, and serves a broader set of consumer needs.”
The new initiative is still being fleshed out. But Plaid is confident that it can make a significant difference with cash flow data in two specific ways: availability and usability. With regard to making consumer-permissioned cash flow data available, Saunders pointed to Plaid’s existing relationships with lenders and property management companies like Mission Lane and Funnel, respectively. These firms have leveraged Plaid’s technology to source clean income and assets data on prospective borrowers.
Usability, the ability of businesses to integrate data into their decision models, is the second component. And this is where the new entity in particular comes in, building solutions that enable lenders to leverage cash flow data for credit risk insights. “Many lenders simply don’t have the time, money, or technical resources to develop insights on top of this detailed, transaction-level data by themselves,” Saunders wrote.
The company admits that it is still “in the early innings” of what Saunders called “the future of cash flow underwriting.” To this end, Plaid presently is offering its new cash flow insights as part of a limited release via the consumer reporting company.
News of Plaid’s new entity comes just days after the company reported that it was working with European payments company Adyen. The partnership will enable Adyen to introduce its pay-by-bank offering in North America by early next year. Last month, Plaid announced partnerships with cryptocurrency infrastructure platform Zero Hash and fraud and risk intelligence specialist Riskified. Plaid also introduced its first Chief Financial Officer last month: former Expedia CFO and Chief Strategy Officer Eric Hart.
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