Credit-reporting agency Equifax introduced a new product at BAI Retail Delivery this week called Insight Score for Retail Banking that leverages its data on 25 million so-called “unscoreable” customers with no traditional credit history. The product provides financial institutions with information that helps identify qualified customers.
Meanwhile, Regions Bank is using Chexar’s platform that enables banks to serve nontraditional customers with services such as prepaid cards and check cashing. Regions Bank is based in Birmingham, Ala. It operates 1,700 banking offices and has $122 billion in assets.
Chexar, a company that built its business helping customers convert checks to good funds, has enabled banks to serve nontraditional customers. Regions Bank fully implemented Chexar’s platform last February.
James Geeslin, chief sales officer for Extraco Banks in Waco, Texas, told Bank Innovation at BAI Retail Delivery, “Banks need a more diversified product base today. It’s not just about checking accounts and loans. Somewhere between banks and the pawnshops, there’s an opportunity.”
Drew Edwards of Chexar argues that there is no space between banks and pawnshops, but rather overlap. “Who are the underbanked? They’re already in your lobby,” Edwards said. Regions Bank surveyed its depositors to see if it was meeting its customers’ needs, and made a surprising find: 30% of its customers had used check cashing, walk-up bill pay, wire transfers, and prepaid cards in the past month.
Regions launched Now Banking to capture some of that market, using Chexar’s platform as well as wire transfer services from Western Union. 50% of Now Banking customers were already Regions Bank customers. These are people who may have been lost or lured away by marginal and possibly exploitative services, but instead Regions scored a big win by keeping them under its roof.
Equifax addressed another side of the puzzle of the underbanked with its Insight Score for Retail Banking (ISRB) solution. Many underbanked customers are considered “unscoreable” because they lack a conventional credit history and therefore are too risky for banks to work with. Equifax, from its connections with the telecommunications field, has a database of 25 million customers who have histories of paying cell phone and cable bills. This information as presented in the ISRB product can help FI’s decide whether or not a customer qualifies for a lending product.
The FDIC is encouraging banks to find ways to work with the underbanked. WalMart and American Express announced the Bluebird card, and the media is abuzz, calling it a threat to banks. The timing is good for Chexar and Equifax to present FI’s with new opportunities to serve the underbanked.