Three in four lenders said it is increasingly difficult to find and acquire new customers and that they’re challenged by a low interest rate environment that’s spurring competition for a pool of consumers who receive multiple credit offers, according to a TransUnion survey.


The survey results are in line with TransUnion data that show there were more than 26 million additional auto, credit card and personal loan accounts in 2015 compared to 2014.  Yet, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, at least 45 million U.S. consumers are still not able to access credit because they either have no credit report or have insufficient credit histories. 

"Competition for new borrowers has not been this fierce in the lending space since prior to the recession," said Steve Chaouki, executive vice president and head of TransUnion’s financial services business unit. "Our survey results and core performance data point to a new lending environment.  Millions of previously unsociable consumers - now scorable by way of alternative data, which is not traditionally found on a credit file - could have access to new loans. Importantly, many of these borrowers are expected to be good risks and welcome additions into lender portfolios." 

The survey of 317 lenders, conducted by third-party research firm Versta Research, shows how alternative data may be leveraged to better assess risk and price offerings appropriate both for unbanked, unscored consumers and for traditionally prime borrowers.  

According to the survey, 87% of lenders said they decline some credit applicants because they cannot be scored. Yet 83% of those using alternative data to score credit applicants report seeing tangible benefits. Nearly two in three lenders (64%) said they’ve seen tangible benefits within the first year of using alternative data. 

Three in four survey respondents expect alternative data will bring about positive economic changes. Other key benefits derived from alternative data, according to survey respondents, include: 

-  66% of lenders using alternative data say it is helping them reach more creditworthy consumers in their current markets.   

-  56% of lenders using alternative data say the data has opened up new markets. 

-  87% of lenders using alternative data do so to evaluate thin-file or no-file consumers. 

-  67% use alternative data to evaluate non-prime borrowers. 

A traditional credit report offers a glimpse of a consumer at a point in time, whereas trended data assets leverage an expanded view of credit data with up to 30 months of historical information. This includes information on each loan account, including payment history, such as dollars paid, amount paid vs. minimum due and the total amount borrowed over time.  

TransUnion last fall released CreditVision Link, which it calls the first credit score to combine trended credit bureau data and alternative data sources. CreditVision Link’s alternative databases include more than 3 billion non-traditional data records collected on more than 260 million adult Americans. The score’s alternative data assets include property, tax and deed records, checking/debit account and payday lending information, among other sources.

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