Hangzhou-based Ant Financial Services Group is rolling-out its credit-scoring service Sesame Credit for China. The service will leverage “big data” technology and customer behavior analytics to make credit more accessible across the country.
Sesame Credit is the first credit agency in China to use a scoring system based on online and offline data to generate individual credit scores for consumers and small business owners. These ratings provide lenders, merchants and other companies with a reliable tool for assessing their customers’ creditworthiness, hence giving more consumers access to a host of borrowing services such as home loans, mobile-phone service contracts, car loans and other types of installment credit.
Powering Sesame Credit’s scoring system, which is currently in the beta-testing phase, is Ant Financial’s connection to e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. By tapping into Alibaba’s vast online ecosystem, Sesame Credit is able to collect data from more than 300 million real-name registered users and 37 million small businesses that buy and sell on Alibaba Group marketplaces including Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com. Payment histories are also available from Alipay, a subsidiary of Ant Financial that is China’s largest online payment provider. Sesame Credit is also working actively with public agencies, financial institutions, and various types of merchants to obtain more data that can effectively reflect consumers’ creditworthiness.
Sesame Credit officials stressed that protecting user privacy and personal data is of utmost concern. Data is collected only with the knowledge and consent of the individual subjects of the information. All data is encrypted and segregated. Access to a specific subject’s credit scores can occur only with the authorization of the subject.
Sesame Credit’s services are expected to be applied in a slew of daily life scenarios. For example, landlords will be able to check potential tenants’ credit scores; employers will be able to make better hiring decisions by checking the credit histories of job applicants; users with good creditworthiness can rent a car without paying a deposit. Sesame Credit is testing the service with some of China’s hotels, which are allowing travelers with superior sesame credit ratings to book and stay without paying in advance. In addition, Sesame Credit is also conducting a test program with a Chinese online dating site that allows suitors to check their potential dates’ credit ratings to make sure they are not meeting someone who is dishonest or untrustworthy. The credit information can only be accessed with candidates’ permission.
Sesame Credit is being launched as an independent brand. The company has been registered as Sesame Credit Management Co., Ltd, operating under Ant Financial.
Sesame Scores are indications of the users’ creditworthiness, which range from 350 to 950 points. Users will be able to check their Sesame Scores both in the Alipay Wallet mobile app and through merchant websites that accept Sesame Credit services.
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