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Use of Alternative Data for Financial Inclusion Spreading Globally: Mobile Phone and Social Network Data Show Promise

PERC lauds the initiative taken by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) of the World Bank Group to drive financial inclusion using mobile phone call log data or the call detail record (CDR) as part of a person’s digital footprint.

PERC approached CGAP and other organizations on this concept nearly five years ago, proposing research and seeking a mobile telephony partner.

“We were always excited about this, continue to believe in the transformative capacity of this data, and are delighted that CGAP has picked up this torch,” said PERC President and CEO Dr. Michael Turner.  PERC’s Alternative Data Initiative (ADI) will continue its push to utilize available data to increase financial inclusion.

The underlying logic for using mobile phone call log data is a follows:  a person with a larger social network (more calls to more people regularly and over time) has greater recourse to funds in the event of a cash flow disruption. Such a person, according to this logic, is a lower credit risk.

“Call log data, possibly in combination with some other bill payment data, could greatly increase access to credit and potentially entirely disintermediate banks from lending in some areas,” commented PERC Senior Vice President of International Dr. Robin Varghese.

For more about CGAP’s work on use of the digital footprint see: http://www.cgap.org/gm/document-1.9.58461/Brief_DigitalFootprints.pdf

For more about PERC’s work on alternative data see: http://perc.net/content/alternative-data-initiative-adi

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