Experian is a leading global information services company, employing approximately 17,000 people and providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 80 countries. It is the largest of the major credit bureaus in the U.S., managing the data of 890 million people and 103 million businesses worldwide. From its early focus on financial services and retailing, Experian now supports clients in almost every major industry, from telecommunications and healthcare to government and automotive.
Alex Lintner is the president of Experian’s Consumer Information Services. He is responsible for overseeing Experian’s U.S. consumer credit bureau and the company’s National Consumer Assistance Center. His leadership will advance the company’s efforts to build a stronger connection to consumer data and direct-to-consumer initiatives, focusing on empowering the consumer through credit and financial education and financial education. We met for a talk about consumer financing:
Omri Barzilay: What is Experian's focus right now? Where do you see its future growth?.
Alex Lintner: Experian is focused on leveraging its data to allow consumers to get a loan quicker and with less tedious paperwork involved. When you think of the important financial decisions in a person’s life—getting a student loan, getting married and paying for the wedding, buying a car or first home, or sending your child to college—we are helping consumers prepare and be fairly positioned for these critical financial decisions.
Our future growth will come from harnessing technology and innovation to create end-to-end digital processes that allow consumers to direct much of their loan application from their laptop or mobile devices. We are committed to using technology to make the credit application experience more friction-less for consumers and less resource intensive for lenders.
Barzilay:Startups like Upstart and others are using a lot of alternative big data and ML to improve the underwriting process, are you already in this market?
Lintner: Experian is a big advocate for full-file reporting, which means that we support the widespread reporting of alternative data—including, rental payments, utility payments and cellular telephone payments to name a few. We believe consumer behavior has evolved and technology has advanced in a way that will soon enable Experian to facilitate lending to this population that we still call credit invisible.
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Barzilay:Experian used to be a classic B2B company, however, in recent years you are doing a large shift toward consumers. How are you doing that? What products are you working on right now?
Lintner:We see ourselves as a B2B2C company. We provide products that enable lenders to extend easy, friction-less lending experiences to consumers. There are three key areas that I believe are contributing there :
- Data accuracy and data integrity – We already have 99 percent accuracy in our credit reports, but believe every consumer who finds an error in their credit report is one too many. Our goal is to get to 100 percent accuracy by 2020.
- Credit Education - Experian was the first in its industry to establish a dedicated consumer education program 20 years ago. We believe that knowledgeable consumers make better decisions throughout their lives, leading to reduced debt and greater overall financial well-being.
- Innovative new products – We are always looking for providing better ways to enable secure and fair lending through easy and intuitive processes. Our plans are to invest in proven technology that will help further digitize the lending process.
Barzilay:Does the shift towards consumers mean that you will compete with some of your clients?
Lintner: Ultimately, we share the same goal as our clients in that we want to make lending easier for consumers. When we work together with our clients to make the process as frictionless as possible for consumers, everyone benefits.
Barzilay:How do you partner with startups today?
Lintner: We work closely with many early stage companies, and have learned to “move at the speed of a startup.” For example, we know that startups want business partners who are responsive and easy to do business with. We’re creating APIs to make it easier for developers to code to our databases, and we’re speeding the time it takes for new companies to onboard with Experian.
Barzilay:What are the interesting trends that you see in the industry right now?
We see three main trends: First, the trend of the “unbundling of the bank” continues. Banks have traditionally offered products from checking accounts to personal loans to mortgages and student loans. Fintechs are leveraging modern technology to create focused products start with just one great, focused offering (for example student loans) and building out their businesses from there. A good example is safe, who got started in student lending and then expanded to personal loans, mortgage, wealth management, insurance and more. Second, As the online lending ecosystem continues to mature, it’s been interesting to see the larger banks react. Fintech startups have gotten a lot “right” about how the consumer experience of lending should be, and we expect more incumbents to learn and respond, whether it be by partnership or by building their own offerings. Finally, online lending is just the starting point. We’re seeing a lot of Fintech innovation spreading to other areas including insurance, bitcoin/blockchain, real estate, personal financial management.
Barzilay:What startups are working on innovative products in the space?
Lintner: One great example is Finicity. We recently led their Series B financing round. Finicity enables account aggregation, which lets consumers opt in to sharing data from their financial services accounts. There are lots of possibilities for this technology, but one good example is the verification of assets and income. Anytime you can take what was a slow, manual and paper-driven process and automate it, you can provide massive consumer value. This concept is just a start and we’re very excited about all of the possibilities to make our consumers’ financial lives even easier.
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