First Access featured on the Grameen Foundation Insights Blog:
“When many of us think about our public and privately available consumer data, we imagine it as an unwieldy monster, one that we would certainly prefer to keep caged up. We worry that Google and Facebook, who have come to price our worth in increasingly higher valuations, are spraying our information into the Internet ether, to be poached, hacked, intruded upon or leveraged for staggering quarterly revenue. Yet data also exists as a part of our financial identity. With nearly 2.5 billion of us without access to any form of formalized financial access, more than a third of the global population has scarcely a trace of financial identity. The myriad informal mechanisms individuals utilize to save and borrow leave no verifiable payment history upon which financial institutions can rely. And if we know one thing about financial institutions, it is that they purport to understand and quantify risk based on this very financial history. So it is, in no small part, perceived individual riskiness contributing to the barren credit environment in which many people operate on a daily basis.
But innovations are underway to shift the formalized risk-modeling paradigm to include various forms of payment history, to leverage the wealth of mobile and Internet data to create new financial profiles. Companies like DemystData and Tiaxa have developed unique platforms connecting social network data and mobile phone payment history to create credit identities. Another institution, First Access, which develops financial profiles based on prepaid mobile behavior for the financially underserved, recently signed a deal with Tanzania’s largest mobile network operator to provide instant risk scores for microfinance and other personalized loans."