Visa U.S.A. and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. have developed two predictive modeling tools to help credit card issuers attract small-business customers.

One, used to target solicitations, is designed to predict which small businesses are most likely to pay their bills on time, and the other is used to evaluate the risk of businesses that apply.

Member banks will be invited to send names of prospective small-business customers to Visa, which would use the modeling tools to screen the lists.

The Visa business prescreen model is available now, and the Visa business underwriting scorecard is to be released early next year.

The models are additions to the Visa business response model, introduced by the two companies in 1997, to help banks identify small businesses most likely to respond to a card solicitation.

Michael Archer, senior vice president of major markets at Dun & Bradstreet, said, "These new tools will help banks identify delinquency risks before they become collection problems" and enable banks to focus "marketing resources on prospects whose credit use will grow their businesses and that of the bank."

The models were developed to help Visa member banks build their card portfolios in the small-business sector, one of the few growing markets for credit cards.

"Assisting our members to capitalize on the tremendous opportunity the small-business sector offers is our main priority," said Michael Souza, vice president of small-business products and services at Visa in San Francisco.

"The alliance between Visa and D&B in the development of these advanced modeling tools illustrates the type of solutions we're offering Visa business issuers to efficiently target the most responsive and qualified small-business prospects," he said.

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