Bank of America Doubles Down on Credit Scores

  • JJ Hornblass
  • July 28, 2016
  • 1

canstockphoto35454846Bank of America last Tuesday introduced version 7.0.0 of its iPhone mobile app, and it was noteworthy largely because of one new feature: it gives consumers access to their credit scores.

Bank of America is believed to be one of the few financial institutions to offer consumers unfettered access to their credit scores via mobile banking app today.

The FICO scores are being provided by Bank of America through a partnership with TransUnion, and accessing them does not constitute a formal credit inquiry for consumers, so there is no credit-score knock when consumers use the feature. The scores are undated monthly, and the feature includes a 12-month rolling score history, a spokeswoman said. It is also free for all consumers — which most likely means Bank of America is paying TransUnion for the service. No comment from the Bank of America spokeswoman.

Bank of America already offered its consumers access to their credit scores on bankofamerica.com. The feature was apparently popular enough for BofA to extend it to its mobile platform. (I asked the bank’s spokeswoman just how popular, but I got stonewalled.)

To be fair, early reviews on iTunes of the new iOS version, while positive, do not make much of the credit score feature. “The newest version is nicely redesigned and is working great so far,” wrote one reviewer yesterday.

But enabling credit score review in mobile banking amounts to a significant step forward, as innocuous as it might sound. That’s because the credit score feature presumably will allow Bank of America to add credit products in the future, or at least market credit products. It seems reasonable to expect that BofA will cross-sell credit products against the FICO score.

If there is one gaping hole in mobile banking today, it is credit products. The vast majority of mobile apps — and this includes apps from major FIs — lack meaningful credit sales. Heck, there is even little credit data on existing products offered to consumers.

There are, of course, many reasons for this, some legitimate, some roll-your-eyes worthy. But it is hard to argue that credit products do not belong on the mobile platform. Credit is just too significant to bank balance sheets to exclude from the mobile revolution.

Which brings us back to Bank of America, and why it seems as though credit scores is a gateway feature to full-on mobile lending. Give the bank an 850.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at hornblass@gmail.com or 212-564-8972.

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