Fintech Lending: Financial Inclusion, Risk Pricing, and Alternative Information

Julapa Jagtiani and Catharine Lemieux investigated the advantages/disadvantages of loans made by a large Fintech lender and similar loans that were originated through traditional banking channels. Banks have been concerned about the uneven playing field because Fintech lenders are not subject to the same rigorous oversight. There have also been concerns about the use of alternative data sources by Fintech lenders and the impact on financial inclusion.In this paper, the authors employed account-level data from the Lending Club and Y-14M bank stress test data to address the above question. They found that Lending Club’s consumer lending activities have penetrated areas that could benefit from additional credit supply, such as areas that lose bank branches and those in highly concentrated banking markets. Further analysis shows that a high correlation with interest rate spreads, Lending Club rating grades, and loan performance. However, the rating grades have a decreasing correlation with FICO scores and debt-to-income ratios, indicating that alternative data is being used and performing well so far. Lending Club borrowers are, on average, more risky than traditional borrowers given the same FICO scores. The use of alternative information sources has allowed some borrowers who would be classified as subprime by traditional criteria to be slotted into “better” loan grades and therefore get lower priced credit. Also, for the same risk of default, consumers pay smaller spreads on loans from the Lending Club than from traditional lending channels.

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