- A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research centered on our technology choices as related to our financial responsibility.
- The study reported many conclusions, one of which is that Android users are more likely to default on loans than iOS users.
- While the study is interesting, it is unlikely banks will abandon FICO scores any time soon.
A new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research centers on using website data to determine the creditworthiness of any given person. In other words, the study asks the question of whether simple web traffic data is a better indicator of someone’s financial responsibility than the traditional credit reports from organizations like FICO.
The report, via Wired, details some fascinating findings. However, if you’re an Android user you are in for a bit of bad news: according to the report, Android users are more likely to default on loans than iOS users. If banks were to adopt a web traffic method to determine whether or not someone gets a loan, your Android phone could be what gets you denied.
The study’s results come from the examination of web traffic data on a German e-commerce website from October 2015 to December 2016. This German retailer sells products on credit; i.e., you get the product now and pay for it later. In the period that researchers examined, there were more than 270,000 purchases from this retailer.
Using basic web traffic information lined up with the eventual payment or default of the credit line given to a particular customer, the NBER was able to draw several conclusions about how our technology habits correlate with our financial responsibility.
As an example, users who purchased items from the German retailer using an iOS device were far more likely to pay off the loan in full than those that used Android devices. This isn’t too unexpected, as iPhones and iPads are incredibly expensive compared to the bulk of Android devices. One would guess that a person who can afford an iPhone is more likely to be financially sound than one who can’t.
However, the study also found that people who used any type of mobile device were more likely to default than people who used a desktop computer to make their purchase. It also found that people who use outdated email services like Hotmail and Yahoo were probably not going to pay back the loan.
If this all sounds worrisome, don’t fret: it is unlikely that the financial industry will adopt digital footprint info in place of a credit report any time soon. The lending industry is a slow-moving beast that doesn’t readily embrace change, so your FICO credit score is likely to be what determines your loan worthiness for the time being.
But that doesn’t mean that other industries – like retail, education, and job placement businesses – wouldn’t choose to use this kind of data over FICO scores. Be wary!