After becoming the country's first financial entity to launch free credit score in Hindi last year, Paisabazaar.com, India's largest digital marketplace for lending products, announced today it has introduced its credit report initiative in three regional languages.
Consumers can now read and download their free credit report from Paisabazaar in Marathi, Telugu, and Kannada, in addition to English and Hindi.
A customer survey last year conducted by Paisabazaar.com revealed that over 60 per cent of customers preferred to have the option of reading their credit reports in their regional language, along with English. Paisabazaar.com began offering free credit reports in Hindi in December 2019 to become the country's only financial entity to offer credit reports in a regional language.
"Over the years, conversations with customers and data have indicated a clear and dire need of deeper awareness around credit score. The introduction of the credit report in Hindi last year was a step in that direction and we have witnessed a tremendous response. We now want to take this initiative deeper across diverse geographies," said Naveen Kukreja, CEO & Co-founder, Paisabazaar.com.
Paisabazaar.com says the introduction of credit score in three new languages should help a large portion of 36 per cent of its credit score customers coming from the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, plus other Marathi, Telugu and Kannada speakers, residing in other states.
Over ten crore people in India reportedly access the internet in Marathi, Telugu, and Kannada.
Also, according to the RBI data, Maharashtra tops the states in terms of outstanding credit and the number of loan accounts with the scheduled commercial banks. The top ten states also include Karnataka (fourth), Telangana (sixth), and Andhra Pradesh (ninth).
However, only 42 per cent of Paisabazaar.com customers who have checked their credit report from these four states on Paisabazaar.com are credit healthy, which means more than half of them would find it challenging to be approved for any lending product, especially in the current scenario when most banks and financial institutions are conservative in issuing any new loans, due to the widespread disruptions in incomes and the economic slowdown.
Paisabazaar.com plans to closely work with all its bureau partners and innovate to advocate responsible credit behaviour, and steadily increase India's extremely low credit penetration ratio.
"At Experian, we are committed to enabling financial inclusion to not only help consumers build creditworthiness but to get better access to credit. Low awareness of credit score and factors that influence it can limit one's ability to borrow. Paisabazaar.com's initiative to leverage regional languages to deepen credit awareness puts consumers in control by staying on top of their credit report and building it over time to ensure easy access at the time of need," said Ashish Singhal, Managing Director, Experian Credit Information Company of India.
In February this year, close to nine lakh loan or credit card inquiries were made by Paisabazaar.com customers from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana alone, bureau data shows. Paisabazaar.com says its data indicates 32 per cent of the pre-COVID volumes of inquiries for loans and credit cards are now back in these four states. However, a poor credit score can be a major roadblock for consumers today looking for a loan.
"Over the short to medium term, lending will be restricted to customers with a steady income and strong credit profiles due to the pandemic. In this situation, tracking and maintaining a strong credit score becomes critical. Our aim is to raise awareness and inculcate good credit behaviour that should go a long way in meeting immediate credit needs and fulfilling important life goals," said Radhika Binani, Chief Product Officer, Paisabazaar.com.
Paisabazaar.com has been offering free credit score to customers on its platform since 2017 and over the years, it said, there has been a sharp rise in customers from outside the top metros visiting their platform to access credit products. Today, customers from over 1200 cities and towns enquire about a lending product every month on Paisabazaar.com.
With India's Internet penetration reaching approximately 650 million, Paisabazaar.com says it wants to take its consumer education initiative on credit score into Tier II & III cities, across India. Over the next 12-18 months, it plans to introduce its free credit score initiative in every major regional language.
"Equifax is at the forefront of delivering credit literacy to all with our purpose statement being 'Helping people live their financial best'. By building the credit score product in regional languages, Paisabazaar.com is not only promoting credit awareness and financial literacy but also offering a wider choice and enhanced experience to the consumers India," said Nanaiah Kalengada, Managing Director & Country Head - India & ME, Equifax.
According to Paisabazaar.com, by offering access to relevant information in preferred languages would not just build familiarity with formal financial products but also, help increase the purchase of financial products through the more convenient and transparent digital medium.
Paisabazaar.com under its credit awareness initiative has been strongly focussing on voice, vernacular and videos to provide an enhanced customer experience on its platform.
The fin-tech's free credit score product is available on voice-based platforms like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, along with WhatsApp, enabling seamless tracking of credit score.
It also runs a credit advisory service which helps customers build a high credit score through customized advice and recommendations from its team of credit experts.
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