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How Tech is Changing the Modern Credit Landscape

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From the beginnings of General Motors Acceptance Corporation to the introduction of the Diner’s Club charge card, the history of credit has been filled with game-changing innovations.

Today, new innovations in tech are continuing to shape the consumer credit industry – and with U.S. consumer debt sitting at $13 trillion, these changes could play a role in impacting how consumers access credit both today and in the future.

The Modern Credit Landscape

Today’s infographic comes to us from Equifax, and it gives a snapshot of modern credit as well as a perspective on how new technologies such as trended and alternative data are changing the landscape.

It’s the second part of our ongoing three-part series on credit:

Part 1: The History of Consumer CreditPart 2: Modern CreditPart 3: Future
How Tech is Changing the Modern Credit Landscape
Part 1: The History of Consumer CreditPart 2: Modern CreditPart 3: Future

Credit scores play a massive component of consumer life, and they are used to gauge creditworthiness for big purchases ranging from homes to launching a business.

Interestingly, how this scoring works is not at all static – and new technology is being applied to increase accuracy as well as open credit up to more consumers throughout society.

Traditional Credit Scoring

The modern numeric credit score emerged in 1989, and it uses logistic regression to make informed decisions on a consumer’s creditworthiness.

The scoring model is made up of five distinct categories:

CategoryPercentageDescription
Payment History35%Are scheduled payments made on time?
Debt Burden30%Includes multiple factors such as number of accounts with balances, amounts owed, and debt-to-limit ratio.
Length of Credit History15%Average age of accounts and age of oldest account.
Types of Credit Used10%What type of credit is used? (i.e. revolving, installments, etc.)
New Credit Requests10%Hard new credit inquiries can hurt scores.

But this model does have its limitations. For example, traditional credit scores give a snapshot of credit rather than showing how the “big picture” of a person’s credit is changing. Further, current scores can also can be inhibited by a lack of data, resulting in an inaccurate representation of a person’s credit.

Tech to the Rescue

On a global basis, the data universe is doubling every two years – and this abundant new resource is revolutionizing consumer credit.

Trended Data
Instead of looking at a snapshot of a credit score, it’s possible to analyze the direction, velocity, tipping points, and magnitude of changes in a consumer’s credit history to get a bigger, more accurate picture. This is called trended data, and it can offer up to 20% improvement in predictive performance.

Alternative Data
Credit history is important, but there are increasingly other sources of data that can provide a view of a consumer’s creditworthiness. Alternative data taps into information on property ownership, wealth, how customers pay everyday bills, and other data sources to provide a more well-rounded picture.

Other Tech
Technology has given consumers unprecedented access to their credit data – and in the meantime, new science behind neural networks is being implemented to give even more sophisticated scoring capabilities.

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Debt

Ranked: Government Debt by Country, in Advanced Economies

This graphic ranks government debt by country for advanced economies, using their gross debt-to-GDP ratio.

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Government Debt by Country, in Advanced Economies

The amount of debt a government holds is a crucial indicator for the sustainability of its finances.

If the debt is excessively high—especially as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP)—it may signal challenges in meeting financial obligations, potentially leading to economic instability.

This graphic ranks government debt by country for advanced economies, using their gross debt-to-GDP ratio. The ranking is based on IMF Outlook from October 2023.

Debt-to-GDP Ratio for Advanced Economies in 2023

From 20 economies analyzed, 11 have a debt-to-GDP ratio of over 100%.

At the top is Japan, whose national debt has remained above 100% of its GDP for two decades, reaching 255% in 2023.

Economy by Gross Debt% of GDP (2023)
🇯🇵 Japan255%
🇬🇷 Greece168%
🇸🇬 Singapore168%
🇮🇹 Italy144%
🇺🇸 United States*123%
🇫🇷 France110%
🇵🇹 Portugal108%
🇪🇸 Spain107%
🇨🇦 Canada*106%
🇧🇪 Belgium106%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom104%
🇨🇾 Cyprus79%
🇦🇹 Austria75%
🇫🇮 Finland74%
🇸🇮 Slovenia69%
🇩🇪 Germany66%
🇭🇷 Croatia64%
🇮🇸 Iceland61%
🇮🇱 Israel58%
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic57%
🌎 G7 Average128%

*For the U.S. and Canada, gross debt levels were adjusted to exclude unfunded pension liabilities of government employees’ defined-benefit pension plans.

Japan has indeed been borrowing heavily, though mainly in the form of intergovernmental holdings with interest rates around 0%. However, with the country experiencing a rapidly aging population, an increasing burden of social security expenses could lead to an even larger fiscal deficit in the future.

The U.S. national debt hit $32 trillion in 2023, making up 123% of the country’s GDP. To put it in perspective, two decades ago, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio was less than half of what it is today. Nonetheless, it remains below the G7 average of 128%.

Germany’s ratio of 66% is the lowest in the G7, though it climbed following the COVID-19 pandemic. All EU member states attempt to keep their ratios below 60% for stability. Otherwise, when debt grows beyond what countries can pay, emergency bailouts and defaults lead to economies crashing, as seen in the European debt crisis from 2009 to 2014.

However, a high gross debt-to-GDP ratio (over 100%) is not always a cause for concern. Net ratios that take intergovernmental holdings into account can indicate exposure to debt better in the short-term, as does comparing liabilities and assets. The question is, where are debt ratios heading in the future?

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