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US: Startup unveils credit card for international students

selfscore credit card international students
Selfscore was launched to help international students gain better access to financial assistance in the US. Pic: @selfscore

SelfScore’s machine learning system has the ability to assess a foreign student’s creditworthiness before offering them a credit card they can afford, an innovative solution to problems faced by many pursuing their studies abroad in the US.

SelfScore, which launched last week, uses a “proprietary technology” it developed to measure a person’s “credit potential versus their credit history”, instead of traditional tests used by other lenders. Foreign students usually fail these basic, conventional tests and never qualify for credit card ownership, despite being able to afford the exorbitant fees at their universities.

“Our Analytics-Based Credit Decisioning (ABCD) system takes into account Eligibility, Identity, Stability of Identity and Ability to Pay for approval,” SelfScore founder and CEO Kalpesh Kapadia told The Next Web.

The ABCD will first verify the applicant’s status as an international student, followed by their identity and stability. Once the student satisfies these requirements, SelfScore will look at the affordability metric to see whether the student qualifies for credit and at which limit.

“In absence of traditional metrics such as SSN and Credit Scores, we verify self-reported information in applications through various backend APIs and score it on a same scale as FICO. Over time, we have found 92 percent correlation to FICO,” Kalpesh said.

FICO is a type of credit score based on consumer credit files of three national credit bureaus. It is used by most American banks and credit grantors.

If successful, the applicant will get a Mastercard with a reasonable yearly interest rate (APR) of 19.49 percent and perks, such as travel assistance, zero-percent introductory APR and no fees for foreign transactions. While the APR is steeper than others, it is expected given the applicant’s characteristics.

Kalpesh said the data collected from the relationship between the student and SelfScore could potentially allow them access to credit from a traditional lender, which might be under slightly better terms.

“By providing international students access to credit, which they otherwise wouldn’t qualify for, we are helping them build their FICO score.We report each user’s payment history to the bureaus, even before they get a social security number.”

“When they get a social security number, this history is appended to their personal credit file and they receive their first FICO score.”

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