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Alibaba Rival Launches Credit Service With ZestFinance

JD.com has soundly secured the second place spot in China’s eCommerce market behind Alibaba, but now it wants to take on the eCommerce giant in another industry: credit scoring.

JD.com has plans to launch a consumer credit data system with ZestFinance, the U.S. financial technology company, to form a service called JD-ZestFinance Gaia to help spur more services for consumer credit access in China. The credit service will take the data of JD.com’s shoppers to determine that consumer’s credit risk, along with providing credit risk evaluation services to Chinese companies by using ZestFinance’s machine learning-based credit-decisioning technology.

Also, according to JD.com, the eCommerce company has made an investment in ZestFinance to “help fund further development of credit risk evaluation services for China and extend consumer access to credit.”

“Chinese shoppers are hungry for convenient, reliable and fair credit channels,” said JD Finance CEO Shengqiang Chen. “This requires both a systematic method for making decisions and a robust infrastructure that enables lenders to share data – neither of which is sufficiently developed yet in China. Today’s announcement with ZestFinance, a leader in consumer credit evaluation, is a foundational step toward building a reliable system for assessing credit risk that will help meet the huge market need. We aim to be the single-stop solution for Chinese consumers to make all of their daily purchases, and this new JV with ZestFinance is another big step in our development.”

JD.com’s new credit check service will be competing with Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group, Sesame Credit, which launched in January. That service leverages big data technology and customer behavior analytics to help make credit more available to millions of consumers across China. Sesame Credit is the first credit agency in China to use a scoring system based on online and offline data to generate individual credit scores for consumers and small business owners. These ratings provide lenders, merchants and other companies with a reliable tool for assessing their customers’ creditworthiness, hence giving more consumers access to a host of borrowing services such as home loans, mobile-phone service contracts, car loans and other types of installment credit.

The trend of using data to establish creditworthiness is a common trend in the Chinese lending market, largely because Chinese consumers have weak credit histories — if any at all. The gap in credit scores can make it difficult for lenders to determine which borrowers are worthy of loans, making it more challenging for consumers to acquire credit. But according to ZestFinance, it eliminates that issue by analyzing tens of thousands of data points to determine creditworthiness.

“At ZestFinance, our mission is to provide fair and transparent credit to everyone everywhere in the world,” said Douglas Merrill, Founder and CEO of ZestFinance. “We’re excited to work with JD.com to create powerful consumer credit evaluation in China. As China uses advanced data science to make credit decisions, its underwriting will likely leapfrog approaches used by most lenders in established markets, which are based on technology created decades ago.”

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