Aire Life
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Aire Life

The next upgrade in credit insight? Leverage what consumers know.

Part one: VP Operations, Tom Oscherwitz, explores the value of some of our most easily recalled financial facts.

The world’s smartest financial institutions and fintechs spend billions of dollars each year leveraging credit reports and expensive, existing data sources.

Why?

They do it with one shared goal: to better understand the individual circumstances of their borrowers.

At Aire, we are equally focused on this. But, instead of relying on broad consumer observations or third-party reports, we start with a basic hypothesis: consumers have unique insight into certain financial facts. And the best way of uncovering these is to go directly to the source, to ask consumers directly about their financial lives.

Let’s unpack this a little further…

Tell us about you

The knowledge we hold around the numbers in our lives is not monolithic, it varies with the questions asked. Consider your own situation; what piece of financial information (personal to you) could you tell me, straightaway, with certainty?

  • Checking account number? Not without a tedious look up…
  • Credit card balance? Maybe, but it varies month by month (often day by day — depending on usage)
  • How about current salary? Bingo.

The hidden value for lenders

This differentiation may seem obvious, but from a lender’s perspective, the thinking is new. Lenders forget that consumers have an awareness of certain aspects of their financial information at their fingertips — taking them just a moment to recall it — and, if collected correctly, just seconds for lenders to benefit from.

So why is it that so many of us know our salary?

I’ll posit a couple reasons:

  • We pay more attention to numbers that are important to us

In America, salary confers status. People care how their salary tracks with their neighbor, their co-workers, peers, and relatives. They track whether their salary increases year to year. They get annoyed when they know the slacker five cubicles down gets the same paycheck...

  • We are better at keeping track of consistent, slowly evolving figures

Salaries tend to be relatively consistent, only changing annually as our cost of living increases, due to annual bonuses or when we change jobs.

  • Simple and easy to remember

Usually a single number, salaries don’t require complex transformations or calculations.

How does income compare?

Let’s consider it briefly against another piece of financial information.

Unlike the stable progression of our salaries, credit card balances vary significantly, depending on factors such as holiday spending or big ticket purchase items. Remember, unlike our salaries, not every consumer has instant access to his or her credit card bill: payments may be automatic, they could be managed by a partner or spouse or just regularly used to pay only the minimum amount off. Depending on our broader situation, our credit balance may be more important in certain times of our lives — only then, does something like this piece of financial information become more acute to us.

First-party data

So what does this tell us?

Insights from first-party data can vary and take some expertise to uncover: for some financial information, we may have varying recollections. But for others, like income, our knowledge is razor sharp.

Importantly for lenders, consumers also have ‘razor sharp’ insight on additional data points that, like income, are crucial in assessing credit risk. Take, for example, an upcoming promotion or pay rise. This information is known to consumers and inaccessible via other data sources.

At Aire, we’re committed to finding the kernels of insight uniquely possessed by each consumer. We’ve spent years learning the subtle nuances of first-party data. Today, our income validation work in the US leverages a consumer’s stated truth around their income, validating that assertion and returning it to lenders in real-time.

Consumers know their income. The hard work comes in separating consumers who reliably share this knowledge from those who may exaggerate or misrepresent it.

At Aire, we know our mission — and we’re in the US to get the job done.

Curious to find out how Tom’s predictions stacked up? Discover Part Two of the story here.

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Aire

Aire

We do hard things so people don’t have hard times. And we’re starting by fixing the income ecosystem — for everyone.