Case Study: Verifier

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Verifier is a consent-driven data sharing platform that helps everyday Australians access their own data to simplify time-consuming activities – such as verifying income when applying for a loan.  

Ready to extend their platform to solve new consumer challenges, Verifier decided to apply for Consumer Data Right (CDR) accreditation for Open Banking with support from RSM.

Streamlining loan applications with digital verification

Launched in 2015, Verifier set out on a mission to solve an ongoing challenge for consumers and lenders: verifying their financial position when applying for a loan.ai_arificial_intelligence_machine_technology_innovation_simple_blue-15.png

As a privacy-by-design business, Verifier acts simply as a data sharing intermediary – helping customers access and move their data to where the customer wants it to go. Verifier does not store or aggregate any consumer data.  

After launching several products and services, the company identified other key challenges impacting lenders and their customers:

  1. The process to verify a consumer’s expenses when they apply for a loan is often intrusive and time-consuming.
  2. Lenders have limited feedback from customers after a loan is finalised. Yet under credit law, they must show their products are being marketed to appropriate target audiences.
  3. Financial stress leads to difficulty repaying a loan. However there is very little evidence on what actually leads to financial stress.

 

Debra Kruse, Head of Legal and Commercial at Verifier, says the company set out on a journey to understand these challenges so they could design solutions to benefit lenders and consumers.  

“We started doing a lot of work around policy, particularly around verifying expenditure. This is traditionally done by trawling through bank statements, which can seem very intrusive.”

“Lenders should be able to make sound risk assessments when deciding whether to grant a loan, and consumers should have confidence that their privacy is protected.”

After extensive consultation, including partnering with the Melbourne Institute to examine new ways to assess a person’s financial wellbeing after taking out a loan, the company had all the workings for a new product: MoneyPulse.

“The full scope of MoneyPulse would require access to a consenting customer’s bank data, so we knew we would need CDR accreditation for Open Banking data. Our CEO and Founder, Lisa Schutz, was already involved in the Data Standards Working Committee which helped shape CDR from the start. So we decided to join the CDR pilot program to develop the product.

“We knew going into it that we would need all the support we could get. We were referred to RSM for the information security assurance report, and as soon as I met with Darren I had huge confidence. The process was new to everyone, but he was across all of it. When they came back with very sharp pricing, we were even more impressed.”

Verifier becomes one of the first RegTech companies to achieve CDR accreditation as a data recipient, and the first company to use de-identification in their use case

The accreditation process took just over 12 months to complete, in addition to product development.grey_illustration_asset_34x.png

“The process was very tedious, with highly specific requirements that took a lot of time and resources to organise,” recounts Debra. “The largest part was designing a product that would fit within the CDR environment.”

“We would have taken so much more time to get it right if we didn’t have Darren helping to explain what was needed to comply with the Rules. Even though we had a lot of working knowledge going into the program, we still found it difficult.”

By the end of the process, Verifier achieved CDR accreditation as a data recipient, including the first use case that the ACCC accredited using de-identification of CDR data.

“MoneyPulse currently acts as a post-loan survey which lenders can provide to their customers. It serves as an important feedback loop and helps leaders meet their design and distribution requirements under the corporations law.”

“At the same time, it gives customers access to a free financial health check where they can say whether they believe the loan product is meeting their needs, and enables the customer to check their perceived vs actual financial wellness.”

Advice to others thinking of applying for CDR accreditation

Debra says working with RSM was incredibly valuable, and a great culture fit with their small but quickly growing team. She recommends anyone thinking of applying for CDR accreditation surrounds themselves with all the support they can get.

“Applying for CDR accreditation certainly isn’t ‘plug and play’. You need to have a lot of conversations and a community of helpers; it’s not something you should try to complete alone. Even a large enterprise wouldn’t have the breadth of experience that’s needed.

“Darren was always the first person we called whenever we had a concern or question. He acted as a resource and a sounding board. Without him, I have no doubt we’d still be going backwards and forwards with the ACCC.”

Of working with Verifier, Darren Booth – National Head of Cyber Security and Privacy Risk Services from RSM – says, “Becoming an accredited data recipient will open up many opportunities for Verifier to lead the way in consent-driven access to data.”

“They’re a highly innovative company, and their persistence in the pilot program and through the challenges of the first accredited de-identification use case has led the way for other organisations to get accredited. The time and effort they put in will ultimately make it easier for everyone else – it’s a selfless act, and one we were very proud to help with.”

Authors

Darren Booth
National Head of Cyber Security and Privacy Risk Services