This month we interviewed Yatir Zaluski, CEO of ConfirmU. ConfirmU is a data analytics start-up specializing in providing alternative credit scoring services for lenders who wish to score people with no credit history. Its solution is based on psycho-linguistic profiling in more than 20 languages, enabled through a chat bot or voice conversation using speech-to-text and machine-learning technologies. ConfirmU recently announced their latest funding round, having raised $650,000 to date!
Tell us about ConfirmU There are 3 billion consumers worldwide that cannot access the financial services they need because credit risk assessment depends on historic payment information. This means that a consumer cannot access credit unless they have had credit before. We believe that everyone should be able to access the products and services they need regardless of age, location or past performance. After conducting extensive primary research into theories of psychology, ConfirmU has created a hybrid model bringing together traits that are most likely to predict financial conscientiousness. Through focus groups and external testing, high performing variables were selected to form the basis of an expert credit risk model. This model is currently deployed and being used for consumer and SME risk assessment. The data has and will continue to be validated against extensive payment performance data. What is ConfirmU working on now and what's on the horizon? ConfirmU is currently working on our first pilot, deploying a first generation alternative credit model for micro-finance lending in India. The pilot has 30,000 users and has provided 8,000 loans to women and entrepreneurs who were previously unable to receive credit. This pilot was made possible through our working partnerships with Experian, the Global Credit Foundation, and the Grameen Foundation. Some of our future projects include a new pilot with a private tier 1 bank in India, a project with two partners in Vietnam, a program in Kenya to provide smallholder farmers with finance, and we are in the midst of building a partnership in Mexico. What are some of the challenges you've faced bringing ConfirmU to low and middle-income countries and what have you learned from the experience? Working on product-market fit is always a challenge. We have spent a lot of time and resources to localize our product to new cultures and languages. Another step we knew we had to take to work in low-middle income countries was adapting the game so that it could be played on non-smart phones and working to find locations with strong enough bandwidth and connectivity. COVID-19 also puts a strain on the ability of our agents to be able to go out and collect data. What was your personal motivation to engage in this field? It became evident to me earlier in my career that financial inclusion has the potential to bring justice and equal opportunities to people. After spending years as a financial consultant, I wanted to play a role in breaking the global financial paradigm and bring about greater opportunities to the 3 billion people in the world who have never had access to credit. What is your advice for Israeli entrepreneurs that want to build companies that address development challenges? I’d recommend that anyone with an interest in developing solutions for the base of the pyramid market spends considerable time with the people that their solution is aiming to benefit. It is impossible to do impactful work without learning firsthand about the daily challenges that people in developing countries face.