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New FICO model could boost credit scores for millions

New model taps into consumer banking data

Experian, FICO and Finicity announced a new credit scoring model that could expand credit access for millions of Americans.

The new model, UltraFICO, would look at more than just information reported to the three credit-reporting firms, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. It would go deeper still and look at the consumer’s banking data, including their checking and savings accounts, in order to see how the applicant manages their money.

FICO explained that its new model will help expand access to credit.

The consumer will grant permission to contribute information from their bank statements, including the length of time accounts have been open, frequency of activity and evidence of saving. The information will be electronically read by Finicity and combined with consumer credit information from Experian.

“This approach allows Americans to benefit from positive financial behaviors,” Finicity CEO Steve Smith said. “We are proud to have created a new way for consumers to share financial information, safely and securely so that a new UltraFICO Score can be created.”

The three companies estimate the new model will provide the most benefit to consumers with credit scores in the upper 500s and lower 600s. It will also support those with limited credit history or those with previous financial distress.

“This changes the whole dynamic of the lender and customer relationship,” said Jim Wehmann, FICO Scores executive vice president. “It empowers consumers to have greater control over the information that is being used in making credit risk decisions.”

“It also enables a deeper dialogue between the consumer and lenders to help both parties make better financial decisions,” Wehmann said. “It’s a game changer.”

FICO said it will launch UltraFICO’s pilot program in early 2019. The pilot will assess the consumer’s willingness to share their financial information. Pilot participants were sourced across various lines of business.

“As the consumer’s bureau, our goal is to help empower consumers and to give better access to credit for more consumers, all while promoting fair lending,” said Alex Lintner, Experian president of consumer information services. “Through this project, we’ve found a new way to use consumer-permissioned data that allows lenders to make better decisions and helps consumers gain access to credit.”

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