In October 2007 – I was just through the door of my apartment, having a letter in my hand. From an insurances company I had just signed a contract for a private liability insurance. I signed it online being sure I will not have any issue getting the contract signed from them as well. Costs were about 50 € per year. Even for me as a student: no biggy to pay. But I was living in Berlin Neukölln (before it got super hipster-ish) and was a student with low income. I never had any debt in my life. I always paid my rent and bills with German punctuality. But it happened – I didn’t get the insurance I signed up for. I received a big fat NOOOO! No explanation. It must have been the scoring agency telling them this girl is not living in the right corner of Berlin.
Living on the wrong side was my only explanation for what has happened. I know these agencies are never tired explaining it doesn’t matter where someone lives. But at the same time they don’t open up their book and just tell what the criteria is. Zero transparency. The irony: This insurance company even offered me a job, years later. I didn’t take it.
This is my personal story why I find other approaches on scoring of individuals interesting. And surely there are more, e.g. rating for the unbanked and unscored of the world. And it is logical to use BIG DATA – use data we all leave while surfing and using the internet. Like Google, Apple and all the others do as well. Social media scoring sounds like something fitting in our time. That’s why I have made this interview with Maciej Dolinski from FriendlyScore. Thank you for the interview, Maciej! Here it goes…
1. Who are you and when did you found friendly score?
We launched FriendlyScore in January 2014 in Poland. We re-headquartered to London later that year in August.
FriendlyScore’s CEO, Gideon Valkin, was educated at Harvard University. Thereafter he worked in global financial markets at both Credit Suisse and Citigroup before earning his MBA at INSEAD. He subsequently joined Startupbootcamp as an entrepreneur-in-residence where he met the FriendlyScore team; Emilian Siemsia and Maciej Dolinksi.
Emilian is CTO at FriendlyScore leading all development. He has specialities in PHP, Python, and JAVA with particular interest in artificial intelligence and semantic analysis. He ran a development house in Poland before co-founding FriendlyScore.
Maciej Dolinski is COO at FriendlyScore. He is a serial fintech entrepreneur. Prior to co-founding FriendlyScore, he launched Kasomat.pl, an online payday loan company in Poland which he grew and sold some years later.
2. In which countries are you selling your services and who are your competitors?
FriendlyScore has clients in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Romania, South Africa, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria. Our main competitors are Lenddo, Aire, HelloSoda and Big Data Scoring.
3. You named your company FriendlyScore. How did you come up with that name and why did you decide for it?
FriendlyScore defines our intention in disrupting consumer credit review. It underpins our energy and spirit. Scores are forever free for consumers. They are non-discriminatory and act in accordance with the rules of fair credit scoring. We also only look for positives, meaning that our scorecard does not highlight flaws and fails of consumer profiles. It made sense, then, for us to think of ourselves as friendly.
4. What do you say to people being concerned about giving you their personal browser and social media data?
It makes sense for consumers to be hesitant. We would be too. That said, the reality is that all information is kept private and sharing your score with any lender or institution is completely voluntary. That means consumers get to review their scores before sharing it publicly. Further, consumer data is stored in Europe (London) and not data is repurposed without clear user consent.
5. What is your USP compared to traditional scoring companies?
FriendlyScore’s are alive. They are dynamic and evolve over the course of a consumer’s online lifetime. The user doesn’t have to ‘build’ a credit score to get a FriendlyScore. Our technology is designed to make credit review reasonable, accessible, and friendly for all 21st century consumers.
6. Who are your customers and have they already started using your algorithm within their services?
Most of our customers are alternative and p2p lending agencies. They have already incorporated the FriendlyScore algorithm into their respective underwriting processes.
7. What do you think about the FinTech scene?
It’s blooming. The three global FinTech hubs – London, New York, Singapore – are responsible for driving a lot of growth. Still, the reality is that FinTech is the future so smaller hubs of innovation are sprouting all over – even in places like Kenya and Thailand. We believe that traditional institutions (banks and the sort) have to open to collaboration.