SME

Blog | Lessons from the field: How we created new group psychometrics to increase financial inclusion in Mexico

While Jonathan takes notes, Gerardo helps an applicant navigate our psychometric assessment on a mobile device. An essential component of our field work was to get direct usability feedback from applicants as they completed new psychometric content.

While Jonathan takes notes, Gerardo helps an applicant navigate our psychometric assessment on a mobile device. An essential component of our field work was to get direct usability feedback from applicants as they completed new psychometric content.

By Jonathan Winkle, Behavioral Sciences R&D Manager, LenddoEFL

An experimental psychologist by training, I am relatively new to the world of financial technology. Since joining LenddoEFL, I have embraced terms like information asymmetry, alternative data credit scoring, and financial inclusion. Yet it was only during a recent trip to the field that I was able to meet the people behind the FinTech jargon we use in our day-to-day, the small business owners whose lives we help improve in our mission to #include1billion.

In April of this year, I traveled with colleagues to Veracruz, Mexico to test new psychometric content for one of the top 3 microfinance institutions (MFI) in the country. Their group loan product extends a line of credit to a collection of business owners, but liability for payments is joint: if one person misses a payment, the group must still make that payment in full. Since many of those applying for these loans lack traditional credit histories, this MFI asked LenddoEFL to develop psychometric exercises that could quickly and reliably assess group traits that predict creditworthiness.  

There are traits that define a strong social group which are nonexistent for individual borrowers. A successful group has strong internal relationships that ensure they will help each other in times of need. A tenacious group can generate creative ideas to solve problems that arise when life presents hardships, as it is wont to do. And a cohesive group exhibits decision making abilities that allow it to act deliberately and with confidence. We designed new psychometric exercises to measure these core traits, and tested them in the field with groups of small business owners applying for loans.

Hiding from the Veracruz heat underneath a family’s palapa, Gerardo leads a collection of applicants through our group psychometric exercises while Jonathan makes observations about their behavior.

Hiding from the Veracruz heat underneath a family’s palapa, Gerardo leads a collection of applicants through our group psychometric exercises while Jonathan makes observations about their behavior.

Measuring interpersonal relationships through social pressure
To measure the strength of a group’s interpersonal relationships, we examined the social pressure that exists among group members. Do individuals feel that they can answer sensitive questions honestly? Or do they feel pressure to conform to the opinions of the group majority? While the group was sitting together in one room, we asked them to raise their hands if they agreed with statements about the trustworthiness, fairness, and helpfulness of their local communities. We then asked individuals to answer these questions privately. The discrepancy between how the questions were answered in each setting could reveal how much social pressure exists, and thus how comfortable group members are being honest with each other. We expect that less social conformity means the group’s interpersonal relationships are stronger, an important factor for predicting whether the group will cover individuals who may miss payments throughout the loan cycle.

Measuring creativity through brainstorming
To measure a group’s creativity, we created a set of generative exercises. For both an easy and a hard problem, we had groups brainstorm as many solutions as they could in 60 seconds. The number of solutions generated was recorded as a creativity metric, and, as predicted, groups generated many fewer ideas for the harder exercise. We were also interested in the group’s dynamic as they performed these tasks. Were they apathetic or engaged? Was there a dominant member of the group? Ultimately, when a loan payment is due and some individuals are short on money, can the group come up with ideas for how to get the extra money? We hope that these generative exercises will shed light on this critical group trait.

Gerardo snags a picture with one of the applicants we met and her business, a stand selling eggs, candy, and other sundries. The small scale of some businesses we encountered, such as the one pictured above, reinforces their need for access to financial products. This woman’s entrepreneurial endeavors are only limited by the capital she can acquire.

Gerardo snags a picture with one of the applicants we met and her business, a stand selling eggs, candy, and other sundries. The small scale of some businesses we encountered, such as the one pictured above, reinforces their need for access to financial products. This woman’s entrepreneurial endeavors are only limited by the capital she can acquire.

Measuring decision making abilities through consensus
To measure a group’s decision making abilities, we created a time-to-consensus task. This exercise asks the group to solve a problem where all members must agree on the answer they provide. While we asked the groups to estimate the population of the state they live in, we actually don’t care how accurate their answer is! What’s more important in this exercise is how the group reaches consensus. Are they indifferent and accept the first estimate suggested? Or do they take their time and argue intensely while deliberating over possible solutions? What kind of strategies did they use to reach their estimate? Importantly, this task provides loan officers with a window into the group dynamic that might not otherwise be seen if the assessment merely collected static information such as sociodemographics and business revenues.

Financial inclusion is the mission of LenddoEFL, but working directly with the people we want to include allowed me to better understand how our assessments must be tailored to their cultures and experiences. The better we can measure group dynamics that predict creditworthiness, the more successfully we can extend financial services to those in need. As we continue to expand our credit scoring offerings across the world, looking past the business jargon we use and maintaining empathy for the humans we touch is essential on our path to #include1billion.

 

World Bank | Using a PhD in development economics outside of academia: interviews with Alan de Brauw and Bailey Klinger

Today's interviews are with Alan de Brauw, a Senior Research Fellow in the Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute; and Bailey Klinger, the founder and (until recently) CEO of the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab

Read full interview with Bailey Klinger.

SME Finance Forum | 10+ Innovative Fintechs to Demo the Africa SME Finance Forum 2018

The Africa SME Finance Forum 2018 will examine the key challenges faced by MSMEs in Africa, and explore innovative local and global best practice solutions to promote youth entrepreneurship and enhance access to financing for MSMEs.

The TechPitch will be held in the afternoon of May 15, and will provide an opportunity for innovative fintechs to demo their product to global and emerging market investment firms, financial institutions and other Forum participants. This exclusive opportunity is one of the key features of the conference and is open to a limited number of financial technology innovators working in the SME space.  Approximately 12 fintech companies are selected to demo their products to Forum participants during this 90-minute session.

We are pleased to already have a number of fintech innovators such as LendableTALASME Credit ProMobbisuranceN-Frnds,LendEnableAlternative CircleLenddoQ-LanaTopicusUber and many others joining us during the TechPitch. Read full article.

Reaction from Mynt: "this merger will set new standards in the industry"

Thanks to our partners at Mynt for sharing their feedback on the merger.

"In a country where native bureaus only have data on less than 5% of the population, the alternative credit scoring methods and technologies Lenddo and EFL have designed and created have enabled us to work towards financial inclusion in the Philippines, from consumers to MSMEs. With the work we've done with Lenddo for our consumers products and with EFL to assess businesses, we can testify that these two companies have many synergies and complementary competencies. With the combination of their knowledge and models, and the combination of social, telco, and psychometric data, we have no doubt that the company resulting from this merger will set new standards in the industry."
-- Anthony Thomas, CEO, Mynt (Globe Fintech Innovations)
 

"With 70% of Filipinos remaining unbanked and with less than 5% in credit card penetration, credit data about the majority is virtually non-existent. This creates a cycle where most Filipinos remain financially underserved. However, with the emergence of technology for alternative credit scoring methods, we are enabled to work towards financial inclusion in the Philippines. With the work we've done with Lenddo to credit score consumers and with EFL to evaluate businesses, it comes as no surprise that a merger between these two innovators is happening. With the experiences and learnings both have acquired separately, we are excited to see the birth of even better and richer data with the marriage of these companies."
-- Jean-Francois Darré, Chief Analytics and Risk Officer, Mynt (Globe Fintech Innovations)