Oportun named Finalist in WSJ Financial Inclusion Challenge
We’re here in Silicon Valley and it’s been interesting over the years to hear people really wrestle with whether or not technology is helping your average person every day. Not having a credit score can be a real challenge because that whole idea that it’s expensive to be poor definitely applies to not having a credit score. When you don’t have a credit score, you tend to be served by very expensive options and, in some cases, options that people consider to be predatory products. At Oportun, were focused on people that are shut out of the financial system. People that are living paycheck to paycheck. The people that work in hotels. The people that service our food. A lot of times, we’re so busy with our own lives that we don’t see them. Our customer can’t go to a bank because if they were to go to the bank and try to get a loan one of the first things that the bank would do would be to try to pull a credit score. What we’ve tried to do is use advanced analytics and use technology to say there’s a lot more information about consumers than there used to be. So we have statisticians, data scientists, people with PhDs that are trying to gather as much data as we could on you and then try to understand what is your willingness to pay? To give you two examples that we share, one is we’ll try to figure out how long you’ve had your cell phone and what your history is to paying your cell phone. We’ll also look at your rental history of an apartment and you pay, you know, pretty regularly, that would also be a signal of your willingness to pay. To me is important to help Oportun customers when they come in because I was in their position. I graduated high school. I started working for a pizza delivery. I didn’t have a car so I was on my bike and I applied for my first loan and the bank, they didn’t really care that I was working. I had direct deposit to my account So they saw that there was money coming in every two weeks and they still didn’t trust me. My credit wasn’t bad it was just no credit score. And then I walked by Oportun. I brought everything in and then right away they tell me, “Oh, we’re going to lend you $500.” It was very important to have financial situations that actually trust people and help you establish your credit. And that’s what they did for me.