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ai credit scoring

How AI is Changing the Credit Scoring Game

Gergo Varga

Jan 19, 2024

For a long time, figuring out who should get a loan and who shouldn’t was a simple process. Banks and lenders would look at a few key numbers, like your income or your credit history, and make a decision. It was a one-size-fits-all approach, and because of its simplicity, it often missed the mark. 

Now, with AI for credit scoring, we're not just looking at a few numbers, we're analyzing what is essentially an ocean of data to make smarter decisions. And what’s more? It’s doing it in real time, instantly, and more fairly than ever before.

For those running fintech companies, this is incredible news. AI lets you understand your customers like never before, giving you the power to make better decisions faster. It's not just about saying yes or no to a loan; it's about understanding the unique story behind each number. 

The Oscilar team has decades of experience in the fraud space behind it, and we know the impact this can have on the industry. The Oscilar platform embraces the power of AI to provide you with a unique, no-code AI platform that can help you make decisions instantly, and much more safely. 

In this article, we're taking that experience to break down how AI is changing the face of credit scoring, from making it more inclusive to speeding up the decision-making process. 

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • Traditional credit scoring methods and the need for evolution

  • The paradigm shift of AI for credit scoring

  • Beyond credit history: AI models and algorithms in credit scoring

  • How Oscilar’s AI risk decisioning platform works

  • What is an AI credit score?

Traditional credit scoring methods and the need for evolution

Credit scoring began in the 1950s, a time that witnessed the birth of the first systematic scoring system. Before this, creditworthiness was a subjective matter, often based on personal relationships and subjective judgment calls by bank managers or loan officers. The system was fraught with biases and inconsistencies. 

Enter the FICO score in 1956, developed by Fair, Isaac and Company. This was a groundbreaking moment, as it introduced a standardized, mathematical approach to assessing an individual's credit risk based on their financial history.

The FICO score revolutionized lending, primarily focusing on a few key data points: credit history, current indebtedness, types of credit used, length of credit history, and new credit accounts. 

For decades, this model reigned supreme in the world of credit assessment, embraced by banks, mortgage lenders, and other financial institutions.

The limits of traditional credit scoring 

However, traditional credit scoring models have their limitations. They often overlook those with little to no credit history (the “credit invisibles”), making it challenging for a significant portion of the population to access financial services. 

These models also lean heavily on payment history, which may not always be a reliable indicator of current or future financial stability or risk. In essence, traditional scoring methods can inadvertently exclude reliable borrowers simply because they don't fit into the conventional credit framework.

Fast forward to our digital era, and the demand for a more nuanced and dynamic approach to credit scoring is evident. 

The explosion of digital data and the advancement of technology have opened new vistas. Factors like utility payments, rent, mobile phone bills, and even social media activity can provide a more comprehensive picture of a person's financial behavior.

Credit risk assessment in the digital age relies on alternative data sources to make accurate predictions about a borrower’s creditworthiness. For fintech companies, credit scoring moves beyond the simple scorecard approach and becomes a problem of technological optimization. 

Moreover, the rise of machine learning and AI based credit scoring applications enabled the analysis of these vast, complex datasets in real-time, offering a far more dynamic and inclusive approach to credit risk management.

This evolution is not just a technological leap; it's a necessary shift towards greater financial inclusion. By embracing these modern methodologies, financial institutions can cater to a broader demographic, providing opportunities for those who have been traditionally underserved by the financial system. 

Moving towards a more holistic, data-rich, and flexible model is essential in our increasingly digital world, where traditional methods may no longer suffice to accurately gauge an individual's creditworthiness.

The paradigm shift of AI for credit scoring

ai credit scoring

The integration of Artificial Intelligence in lending marks a paradigm shift from the traditional credit scoring methods, introducing a more dynamic, inclusive, and predictive approach to reliable credit scores. AI, with its capability to process and analyze large datasets, has revolutionized how financial institutions evaluate creditworthiness, especially in a competitive landscape.

Harnessing Big Data

The power of credit scoring using machine learning primarily lies in its ability to harness and interpret big data. Unlike traditional models that focus on a narrow set of financial indicators, AI can analyze a vast array of data points, including not just financial transactions but non-traditional data like utility payments, rent history, online shopping habits, and even social media behavior. 

By tapping into these alternative credit data sources, AI provides a more holistic view of an individual's financial habits and responsibilities.

Predictive analytics and machine learning:

At the heart of AI's effectiveness in credit scoring are predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms. These technologies can identify complex patterns and correlations within the data that would be impossible for humans to discern. 

Over time, these algorithms learn and adapt, continually refining their predictions and assessments. This means that AI based scoring models can become more accurate and reliable with each transaction they analyze, offering a level of foresight and adaptability that traditional models lack.

Addressing financial inclusion

One of the most significant advantages of artificial intelligence credit scoring is its potential to enhance financial inclusion. Traditional credit systems often sideline individuals with limited or no credit history. AI models, with their broader data approach, can open doors for these “credit invisibles,” providing credit access to loan products based on a more comprehensive assessment of their financial behavior.

Speed and efficiency

In today's fast-paced financial environment, speed and efficiency are key. AI credit underwriting systems can process applications in a fraction of the time it takes traditional models. A rapid assessment doesn’t just benefit the customers, who receive quicker responses, but also lenders, who can operate more efficiently and manage higher volumes of applications.

The speed and efficiency of AI in credit scoring are game changers, particularly in an industry where time is often equated with money.

In fact, while traditional loan decisions could take days or weeks, a modern credit scoring solution can help companies make instant credit decisions by having a 360 view of their customers, incorporating financial information as well as KYC data in one place.

Customization and Flexibility

AI models offer a degree of customization and flexibility that traditional models cannot match. Financial institutions can tailor AI algorithms to fit specific products, risk appetites, or customer segments. This flexibility ensures that credit scoring models align closely with the evolving market demands and individual lender’s strategies.

Take for example a fintech company that serves a non-traditional demographic, like small business owners or freelancers, and uses AI to customize their scoring methods to best fit their customer needs.

Since small business owners and freelancers often struggle to obtain credit due to non-traditional income streams, they could leverage AI to take into account factors like recurring payments, client contracts, and cash flow patterns that are specific to these groups. 

By doing so, one is not only able to more accurately assess the creditworthiness of this unique segment but also expand their market reach. 

The Ethical Dimension

While AI offers numerous benefits, it also brings forth ethical considerations, particularly regarding data privacy and potential biases in AI algorithms. Ensuring that these systems are transparent, fair, and compliant with regulatory standards is paramount.

Beyond credit history: AI models and algorithms in credit scoring

AI models excel in identifying patterns and correlations within the data that may be indicative of future credit risk. Techniques such as logistic regression, decision trees, random forests, and neural networks are commonly employed. 

These models are trained on historical data, learning from past loan outcomes to identify key factors that predict creditworthiness. Over time, with more data, these models become increasingly refined and accurate in their predictions.

Financial services can harness generative AI to innovate in a variety of fields from risk management, fraud detection, customer services, and loan applications.

One of the major strengths of machine learning in credit scoring is its adaptability. As consumer behavior and economic conditions change, the models can adjust to new patterns, ensuring that lenders are using the most current and relevant information when making credit decisions. The dynamic nature of machine learning models makes them an invaluable tool in the ever-evolving domain of credit scoring.

How Oscilar’s AI risk decisioning platform works

Oscilar's AI risk decisioning engine is designed to empower companies, particularly those in the financial sector, to leverage AI based credit scoring in an effective and compliant manner. Here’s how Oscilar’s engine can make a significant impact:

1. Advanced Machine Learning Capabilities:

Oscilar’s AI credit scoring software is built on sophisticated machine learning algorithms that can process vast amounts of data, both traditional and non-traditional, to assess creditworthiness. This capability allows for a more comprehensive and nuanced evaluation of an individual's financial behavior than traditional scoring methods.

2. Integration of diverse data sources:

The engine can incorporate a variety of data types including bank records, payment histories, and even alternative data like utility payments or social media patterns. This helps in creating a more complete and accurate picture of a borrower’s financial stability.

Our list of supported vendors and integration partners is ever-expanding, allowing companies access to the right kind of data as needed.

3. Real-time processing and decision making:

Oscilar’s credit decisioning software works in real-time and lets you deploy workflows that operate with both heuristic and machine learning-based rules to boost loan approval rates while keeping fraud out and credit risk low.

The AI credit score can be used to enhance the data beyond what’s provided by the credit bureaus. By analyzing historical data, such as cash flow data or real time indicators such as those gleamed from digital footprints, the system can make informed decisions about a particular borrower and accurately asses the risk of default.

4. Customization and flexibility:

Oscilar’s engine offers customization to fit different credit products and risk appetites. Companies can tailor the AI models to align with their specific lending criteria, regulatory environment, and market segment.

Furthermore, our no-code UI allows risk teams to operate autonomously, without the need for expensive engineering resources. In fact, one of our clients estimated that they saved over $200k just in engineering costs by choosing Oscilar.

5. Compliance and ethical AI:

Recognizing the importance of regulatory compliance, Oscilar’s engine is designed to adhere to credit reporting and anti-discrimination laws. The engine includes features to ensure transparency and explainability in AI and credit decisions, crucial for meeting GDPR and other data protection standards.

6. Bias detection and fair lending:

The engine is equipped with tools to detect and mitigate biases in credit scoring models, which ensures fair lending practices and helps in maintaining compliance with anti-discrimination regulations.

7. Enhanced risk assessment

By leveraging AI, Oscilar’s credit scoring algorithms provide a more dynamic risk assessment, considering factors and patterns that might be overlooked in traditional scoring systems, and allows for more informed lending decisions, which reduces the rate of defaults.

Our AI based risk decisioning system is the first of its kind in terms of deploying generative AI to aid risk analysts and loan officers with their day-to-day work. Our risk co-pilots and natural language interface will allow risk teams to perform better with less manual drudgery.

8. Continuous learning and improvement:

Oscilar’s credit scoring platform continuously learns from new data, improving its predictive capabilities over time, ensuring that the credit scoring model evolves with changing market dynamics and consumer behaviors.

In essence, Oscilar's AI risk decisioning engine provides a comprehensive, efficient, and compliant solution for companies looking to adopt AI in credit scoring. It represents a blend of technological sophistication and practical, regulatory-aware application, catering to the modern needs of the credit industry.

Beyond credit risk: the regulatory landscape

The use of AI in credit scoring, while innovative and powerful, brings its own set of challenges in terms of regulatory compliance. Navigating this landscape is crucial for financial institutions to ensure that their AI-driven credit scoring models align with legal and ethical standards.

  • Compliance with credit reporting laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in the U.S., requires fairness, non-discrimination, and transparency in credit scoring.

  • Adherence to anti-discrimination laws such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), mandating the avoidance of biases against protected classes.

  • Conformity with GDPR and Data Privacy Regulations for handling personal data, particularly for institutions dealing with clients from the European Union.

  • Requirement for Model Transparency and Explainability, especially in complex AI models like deep learning.

  • Conducting Regular Audits and Compliance Reviews to ensure models remain compliant and unbiased.

The regulatory environment for credit scoring and AI is continually evolving. Financial institutions must stay abreast of changes in laws and regulations and be prepared to adapt their AI models and processes accordingly.

While AI can significantly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of credit scoring, it is imperative that these systems are developed and implemented with a strong focus on compliance. Balancing innovation with regulatory adherence ensures not only the legality of AI-driven credit scoring models but also bolsters consumer trust and maintains the integrity of the financial system.

What is an AI credit score?

As we can see, the integration of AI in credit scoring is not just a technological advancement; it's a paradigm shift in the financial industry. This shift heralds a new era of data-driven, inclusive, and efficient credit assessment, breaking away from the limitations of traditional models. With AI, financial institutions can tap into a broader spectrum of data, gaining deeper insights into consumer behavior and enhancing their ability to predict creditworthiness. 

This evolution is crucial in an increasingly digital world, where traditional credit assessment methods fall short in addressing the diverse financial profiles of modern consumers. 

The adaptability, precision, and inclusivity of AI-driven credit scoring models represent a significant leap forward, promising greater financial access and more personalized lending experiences.

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